The International Herald Tribune has an Associated Press report on Geo-tourism, a phenomenon so new that “few tourists use it”. However, the article points out “it’s on the lips of travel professionals who describe it as a step beyond the better-known environmentally friendly ecotourism”.
As David DePetrillo, Rhode Island’s tourism director insightfully notes “People do tend to like things that they’re not going to experience somewhere else. They’re looking for things that are not homogenized, People are seeking a more experiential vacation”. That perspective is unsurprising and, arguably, was the genesis of the boutique category – a desire to steer clear of the dreary sameness of the brands who offered no surprises for any aspect, good and bad, of hospitality.
The IHT article also points out another non insignificant benefit “its benefit to the local population. When destinations highlight the things that make them special, it not only draws more tourists, it also helps the local community appreciate its own uniqueness. That, in turn, motivates them to preserve the cultural or natural resources that keep tourists coming”.
Other benefits touted by proponents of geo-tourism such as Lelei Lelaulu, president and chief executive of Counterpart International, a Washington-based non-profit international development agency Guatemala, small coffee growers include “peace building” when outsiders (farm tourists) and locals interact and get to better understand different viewpoints and savor local culture. Seems like a model that American Indians could still adopt instead of the lemming like endorsement of casinos that has, over time, decimated their culture.