09 December 2010 by Julienne du Toit

Tourism that Rocks!

I have a complaint.

A new, wonderful form of tourism is sweeping the world. It’s a win-win way of doing things. The host community benefits. The traveller comes away with a rich experience. It touches the environment lightly.

It’s a marvellous thing, and I couldn’t support it more. My problem, though, is with its name: Responsible tourism. Doesn’t that sound tame? Staid? Conscientious? Sensible? Altogether too mature?

And yet, what a wonderfully fun form of travel it is. Instead of staying at a manicured resort and barely meeting locals except as they pour your pinotage, you have an authentic, mindful experience where you are both enriched. You’ll remember these encounters for the rest of your life, and your visit will leave a marvelous legacy.

Surely this rich and ever growing English language possesses some term that covers tourism that’s fun on top of being ecologically and socially uplifting?

Green tourism doesn’t cover it, because what about the social upliftment part? What about the fun? The same goes for Sustainable tourism, although it’s accurate. (I don’t love the word ‘sustainable’ either, but that’s a subject for another day.)

What I’m talking about is tutti-frutti, wraparound, technicolour, full contact, total immersion tourism. Isn’t there one encapsulating word for it? What about Discovery tourism? Authentic tourism? Enriched tourism? Joyous tourism? I’d even be happier with Jolly tourism. What about Gentle tourism? Lion-hearted tourism? Unity tourism? Exuberant tourism? Uplift-tourism?

Of course, if it were up to Africans to name it, the matter would be simple. This is Ubuntu Travel. Ubuntu roughly means ‘I am, because you are.’ It speaks of interconnection and oneness. Still, it doesn’t cover the sheer enjoyment of it all.

Any suggestions?

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