You’re on vacation and you’re eager to see as much of the city as possible, but you also want to support the local economy in your city. How can you do both? Fortunately, there are several ways that tourists can contribute to local businesses while also getting the most out of their stay. Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, here are six ways you can support your host city while you’re there.
Spend time with locals
Do your research before you head out to visit a new place. Reach out to local bloggers, journalists and other sources of tourism-focused content; ask them what their favourite local spots are, or where they like to take visitors. This way, when you land in your destination city, you’ll already have a few places chosen out that can get you off on a good foot with local businesses right away. And after your stay, take some time to write reviews of restaurants, hotels and more so that future travellers will benefit from your experience. It’s another great way to give back while supporting local business owners!
Avoid Chain Stores
Supporting the local businesses is important to your destination’s economy, as well as to its culture. While you’re on vacation, try patronizing places that are unique to your area, rather than those cookie-cutter chain stores you find everywhere. This way, you can enjoy a genuine experience and support small business owners in your community at the same time.
If there aren’t any locally-owned restaurants or shops nearby, consider shopping at an independent retailer or boutique while visiting a neighbouring town—it will help support business owners in other communities too! By choosing to spend money at independently-owned businesses when travelling abroad, you can also help create jobs for people who live there—not just for travellers like yourself.
Utilizing Social Media while Travelling
The travelling sector is one of the largest global industries, it also has a dark side. Many hotels and restaurants rely on outsiders to come in and spend money—money that’s not being circulated back into their local GDP. That’s why travellers can make a difference by exploring all that their destination has to offer and keeping their money in town by frequenting local businesses as much as possible.
Learn About Local Customs
While foreign travellers can seem like an invulnerable economic force, it’s important to remember that their travel dollars are just as valuable to a local economy as any other tourist’s. What’s more, many countries rely heavily on tourism for survival; according to one report, in a 2013 survey by U.S. Travel Association and MasterCard, tourism accounted for nearly 11 per cent of all jobs worldwide.
If you want to support your host country during your travels, make sure you understand its customs and culture—and if you don’t know where to start? Just ask! Most locals will be happy to help tourists understand their native culture better and show them how they can support local businesses while they’re there.
Travellers love to see what they’re missing by not being there. Take photos of your favourite local businesses and share them online. Not only does it help people see your town, but it also helps spread awareness about local businesses that are doing great things for their community and the local economy. These kinds of stories can make a big difference when someone is deciding where to vacation or for whom to vote! The same goes for leaving reviews on sites like TripAdvisor.
Reviews matter more than you might think, especially in smaller towns. They can really boost in small towns by creating an air of authenticity around a business.
Tell friends where you are going
Don’t be afraid to share your itinerary with friends and family before you leave. They can help to encourage local purchases and keep an eye out for you. Plus, if something goes wrong, they can alert authorities and let others know where you were last seen. And when it comes time to check in with someone, make sure you have a reliable way of contacting them; not everyone has international data roaming enabled on their phones. If you are going off-the-beaten-path, consider buying a cheap phone locally that will allow you to text or call people back home.
You might also want to look into travel insurance just in case anything does go wrong. If there is any place that offers discounts for travellers like an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) or some other form of identification, definitely take advantage of that! In fact, many countries offer discounts to students because they tend to spend more money than most tourists.
The ending line is that we all know the Travelling sector is an incalculable driver of economic development in the modern world.
When you travel, why not do what you can to support the local economy?
Using local transport, booking with local businesses, eating at local restaurants and getting to know your hosts are simple things we can all do to support the local economy.