Pro-poor tourism is continuously developing its forms. “Tribewanted” is a membership based organization that collaborates with villagers in very remote areas to enhance sustainable tourism and other small scale economic activities. The mission is “to build and sustain cross-cultural communities in beautiful places that benefit locals and visiting members; inspiring positive change within and far beyond the village.”
The so-called tribe members spend a minimum of 1 week at a time living alongside a local team and community immersed in the day to day running and development of the village. It is about playing a part – however small – in something positive, adventurous, and in some cases, life-changing. The organization tries to balance the inclination to do-good and the wish for pure vacationing. “It’s not a weird cult. Its cross-cultural living. In just a week or two it can change the way you think about a lot of things. And even if it doesn’t, you’ll have the time of your life.”
This is how Tribewanted explains its activities: “For our local communities Tribewanted is about kick-starting the kind of sustainable development they’re looking for but cannot achieve on their own. It’s a partnership. And in the long-term it’s their project to lead. Between our local communities, teams, partners and members we co-fund, co-create, co-build our communities.” The visitors are asked to bring items that the village needs – from solar panels to school books. The organization works to shape the needs for belonging – both with the community, and also in the network of do-good’ers. The intensive community building using blogging is part of the comprehensive tourism experience.
Arguments against this form of tourism are well-known, and Tribewanted attempts to address them up front: “We know it’s not a perfect model – flying around the world every year undermines our projects sustainability. But, if we stop flying – if we stop building better communities; if we cut off the understanding that’s generated when two cultures or more mix in safe, beautiful places – then we won’t progress. It’s a work in progress which we measure as best we can as we grow.”
Tribewanted works on two destinations: Vorovoro in Fiji is the pioneering destination, and John Obey Beach Sierra Leone in Africa is coming up.
There spin-offs from the process: books and videos generate further income. Tribewanted claims in it ethical standards and operational mode to feed as much back into the local development processes as possible working along the following lines: Where the members’ and visitors’ money goes:
- 10% web management/accounts
- 20% commissions / marketing / pr
- 70% invested locally: land leases, development materials, equipment, employment, training, transport, food, legal, insurance
The initiative has been shown on a BBC-series including the immense difficulties and the controversies.