Alternative tourism refers to tourism options that are considered non-standard, unconventional, or out of the mainstream tourism industry. Some key things to know about alternative tourism:
Focuses on small-scale, low-impact destinations and activities that enable meaningful connections with local people, cultures, and environments. Emphasizes sustainability.
Encompasses forms of tourism like eco-tourism, geotourism, volunteer tourism, ethical tourism, slow travel, creative tourism, and community-based tourism.
Eco-tourism aims to minimize environmental impact; geotourism sustains the character of a place; volunteer tourism lets travelers participate in projects for the greater good.
Alternative tourists seek transformation, education, and the road less traveled, not mere entertainment. They have an authentic, immersive, personal tourism experience.
Tours and activities may be structured by non-profit community organizations rather than commercial operators. Profits often go back to supporting conservation and community development efforts.
Examples include homestays with local families, wildlife conservation expeditions, culinary tours of street food vendors, indigenous culture workshops, farm work harvesting coffee beans.
In summary, alternative tourism spotlights conscious, ethical travel outside the bounds of popular packaged tourism, focusing on sustainability, deeper connections, responsibility and making a positive impact.
What Are the Different Types of Alternative Tourism?
Some of the main types of alternative tourism include:
Ecotourism – Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. Examples include jungle treks, wildlife safaris, and volcano hikes.
Voluntourism – Travel that combines vacationing with volunteering to aid communities in need. Common activities include building schools, teaching English, and working in orphanages.
Agritourism – Vacations on farms and ranches that offer a unique glimpse into rural life and agriculture. Activities may involve picking fruit, feeding animals, or learning about crops.
Geotourism – Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place. Goals include building environmental awareness, promoting cultural heritage, and benefiting residents.
Community-Based Tourism – Tourism activities, like guides, lodging and transport, that are owned and operated by local communities, helping them thrive economically and socially.
Slow Travel – Emphasizes deeper cultural engagement, quality experiences, and traveling slowly over a longer time by staying in one place instead of quick sightseeing.
Creative Tourism – Travelers develop their creative potential through active participation in experiences related to the cultural heritage of the destination.
Other niche examples include justice tourism, survival tourism, culinary tourism, and dark tourism.
The key focus across alternative tourism is travel that is sustainable, responsible, and makes a positive social, cultural, and environmental impact. The alternatives provide ethical alternatives to conventional mass tourism.