The global travel and tourism industry is one of largest job creators in the world. This massive industry has the potential to become an equalizer and the greatest redistribution of wealth from developed economies to developing economies as tourists from all over the world put their money directly into local hands rather into the teeming bank accounts of multinational corporations. And yet, this is largely not happening, also not in Laos.
As much as 95% of the money generated by an international trip is not serving the destination, people, or communities you pass through. Much of this comes from the effects of packaged tours and cruises, but travelers at every level often gravitate toward slick marketing and recognizable names when traveling, which are often signs of foreign influence. Different companies with the largest marketing budgets receive the bulk of international money, even though small local operators (like we) offer incredible experiences.
The alternative to this trend is deceptively simple: let’s shift the conversation to leaving more money inside Laos. It’s not a panacea, but it’s one more step in the right direction. And riding alongside this idea of grassroots level travel is the voluntourism industry, which is seeing astronomical year-on-year growth. Packaged voluntourism experiences have similar fault-lines to packaged travel—in most cases they miss the point of lasting economic impact. Our mission is to offer direct volunteering.
The United Nations Environmental Program notes that: Of each US$ 100 spent on a vacation tour by a tourist from a developed country, only around US$ 5 actually stays in a developing-country destination’s economy.
Why Fairstay Not every (not even most) vacations are a good-fit for volunteering, for that reason, the concept of our Fairstay /guesthouse as a social enterprise. Social enterprises (our Fairstay) are for-profit businesses operating to help address local social issues, in our case education. We provide everybody the opportunity to stay at our Fairstay and still visit all our projects in a day tour without that they need to volunteer. That is why we changed “Fairtrade” in “Fairstay”. As a guest, you leave your tourism dollars directly with the local communities and people; we give support and aid by exchanging your tourism dollars for our local service and experience. Our projects are generally low-cost and take out the middle-man, which means it’s ideal for more budget wise travelers willing to research their destination and travel without some of the facilitation inherent in the massive voluntourism companies.