Hey friends! How are you? I have been thinking a lot about the TEDx talks that have recently been in my country and others. Some of the most stunning topics (besides technology, of course) that I continue to see include sustainability, farming our own organic food, climate change, the support of local economies, etc… so in general we are looking for ways to improve things in this world that can be full of bad news and for me that´s really inspiring to see the new generations trying to make a difference.
The ideas to support local economies really catch my attention, maybe because I love social causes and that doesn´t mean that I am pretending to be Mother Teresa or the like haha, but I just believe we need positive actions to keep this world going… okay let´s put our philosophical thoughts on a hold for a second…
Rural Tourism:the way to travel
I believe I don´t need to explain much about the meaning of this term because if you Google it you will find full pages of theories about it. So let me tell you a personal story about why I love RT. For me rural tourism means a way of tourism that I have been trying to promote here in Costa Rica since 2009 when I did my university graduate project about a local community in San Ramón, Alajuela. So that is why you will keep hearing us talk about Bajo La Paz, a mystic cloud forest in the middle of the mountains surrounded by the Costa Rican traditions.
Personal fact: Actually this was the first trip that Rodrigo and I did together when were just getting to know each other awwww 😉
It was a very fulfilling experience to see how we could take a theory from a college project to become a real business plan that creates a tourist product where local families get involved and benefit. Wow, is it still working? Well, not exactly in the way we were planning. For different reasons but mostly financial issues and some other struggles came along. But still we get the chance to follow up with tourist projects in the area with locals and foreign visitors and that makes us happy to see families growing with the rural tourism business. We still have connections with the families and love to keep tracking their progress even though we are no longer involved in the logistical side.
Our goal through the blog is to keep supporting different initiatives of Rural Tourism in our country.
So is rural tourism better than traditional tourism?
Not necessarily it is just different the way your money is going to be distributed and that is important to keep in mind when you plan your trip. I want to clarify both ways of travel are awesome and having a balance to alternate them is good. But once in awhile getting the real experience of a country’s heartbeat and not what is manufactured just to please the tourist can help to support local economies.
So let´s look at the pros and cons…
All Inclusive Vacations and Resorts
- Everything is planned for you
- Luxury accommodations
- Good food (I don´t know what self-control is at the buffet table 🙁 )
- Easier to make decisions when you are part of a big group
- Your money is going to a specific brand of hotels so not really supporting local economies
- Ginormous credit card bill when you get home (oh yeah that picture at dinner wasn´t included on the package)
- Long stays in the same place can turn in a boring vacation
- Serendipity means more fun. The flexibility to change schedules and surprises are better for some people.
Rural tourism Vacations
- Seeking out rural areas while travelling or taking a trip can be incredibly rewarding
- It can be an awesome and inspiring learning experience
- The people are friendlier and you get a more personalized experience because you are not just a number
- It could be cheaper traveling in this way and at the same time the money benefits local families and projects.
- It involves more planning
- You may not find it so easy to get to your destination
- If you are not an open minded person you will feel there is less choice
- There is less beautiful architecture… so definitely not recommended to people itching to see the modern buildings in Tokyo or medieval architecture in Rome.
Many travellers go to countries famed for their incredible natural beauty, and yet spend all their time in cities or all-inclusive resorts. People who travel this way miss out on experiencing the heartbeat of the country. It´s not necessary to based your whole vacation on rural tourism but making a little portion of it would give a better taste of the culture and lifestyle of Costa Rica or the country that you are visiting.
Further thoughts …
In my personal experience I will be honest I understand rural tourism is not for every traveller but the government promotes a lot of these types of initiatives for Costa Rican entrepreneurs and farmers like every single tourist is going to pick one of this trips…. That makes me think… Realistically entrepreneurs and farmers on the other side struggle in the lack of knowledge to do marketing especially with the constant changing social networks. A big group of them are not familiar with this technology at all and even if we pretend they are super cool bloggers or a Facebook pro, my question is how can they compete with the big companies that invest tons of money in marketing and big tourist resorts? So let be conscious and support local economies, rural travelling is definitely something you should try, at least once in your life.
“When people go on vacation they generally seek out destinations that offer them the sense of being someplace, not just anyplace.” ~ Richard Moe, President, National Historic Preservation Trust