Are you a Fair Trade consumer or provider?
What is Fair trade ?
Today, as well informed human being, we are increasingly becoming aware of the effects of our actions on the society, the environment and the economy. For e.g. someone conscious about health is more likely to shop for a product with an 'organic' tag and someone who cares more for the environment would seek out the 'recycle' tag. It is now an increasing trend that people are becoming conscious of the impact of their consumption, which is not just limited to the environment or health concerns, but also extends to social concerns - like where is the product sourced from and how does the compensation for the product benefit the original producers. The concept of fair- trade ensures that preference is given to locally sourced products and that the producers of the product get a fair compensation for their contribution in production. This is also important in the tourism scenario, where destination being the key element of tourism, the practice of fair trade is important to ensure that the benefits of revenue from tourism are rightly distributed to the stakeholders and producers in the destination. This will help the destination achieve better economic and social status.
Fair Trade practices in tourism
Conventional tourism that us based on meeting demands of tourists and shaping the destinations and communities to cater to these demands often leads to promoting disparity in distribution of income. The benefits arising from such a model usually go to the larger travel operators and sometimes very little or no income is available for the locally struggling communities. As a solution to reduce this disparity, alternative forms of tourism practices have emerged that focus on benefits to host communities, good governance and participation of many stakeholders. Practicing a policy of Fair Trade in tourism can addresses the achievement of social and environmental standards through fair pricing, local purchasing and payment of fair compensation for products and labour. Fair trade provides improved market access, strengthens the producer organisation, paying a better price, and forming long-lasting trade relationships. This improves the livelihood opportunities and well-being of producers and labours involved in supplying to the tourism trade. We can encourage the participation of and promote livelihood opportunities to all the segments of the society such as women, indigenous communities, marginalised producers, etc. We also need to make consumers aware of the concept and its positive impacts on each producer and labour involved making that product available for them.
Travel and tourism organisations practicing Fair trade focus on encouraging the skills and output of the producers and suppliers who could be farmers, artisans, local transport providers, local guides, and many others involved in providing goods and services to the sector. These suppliers can be given opportunities to participate along with in trade events and exhibitions. Active participation of producers in such activities helps to develop ownership towards the business and create a sense of pride. It helps in communicating to the consumer on the authenticity of the destination services and the need to support such practices. Another example of implementation is a women led tourism initiative to empower them and involve them in decision making as seen in the Kudumbashree movement in Kerala. This is achieved by training them in different skills and crafts and ensuring they get paid as per fair standards. Routine meetings with local service providers /producers /labours and being transparent with them in sharing profits and compensation for their products can motivate them. Not just with the producers but it is important to share the information with buyers to show them how their tourism purchases trickle down to the various direct and indirect suppliers and benefit them. By choosing to follow fair trade practices in tourism and communicating the same, tourists are assured that the destination and its local communities are getting justified income, respect and the business is functioning in an ethical and environmentally responsible manner.
To get more information about fair trade in tourism and how to implement effectively, do write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org