There are several ways to travel that go beyond visiting a new location and having a great time. While that is a part of many vacations, increasingly people have found fulfillment and fun in travel by including an intended purpose tied to their personal passions or philanthropic interests while giving back.
This kind of purpose-driven or sustainable travel has been called Eco-Tourism, Purposeful Tourism or Voluntourism
Traveling in manner that helps local communities via highlighting their cultural heritage and sustaining their unique authentic ways of life can be personally rewarding.
What Is Purposeful Tourism and Sustainable Travel?
The idea of purposeful tourism is to engage with the destinations you are visiting and giving back to the local communities when you are traveling. Eating at local restaurants, staying in accommodation run by local operators, or booking a Mérida cenotes tour with a local guide and volunteering at a community non-profit are all great examples.
For example, in the case of a Merida cenotes tour, you will be supporting local businesses by booking with a local tour company, visiting a local attraction, and hiring a local guide. This brings more money into the local economy and has a positive impact on where you are visiting.
Sustainable tourism is defined by the UN World Tourism Organization as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities”. This means taking both the positive and negative impacts of tourism into account, maximizing the positive impacts, and minimizing those that are negative.
How to Travel More Purposefully and Sustainably
When you are visiting a new destination take a moment to be mindful and personally connect with the location you are visiting. Interact with locals, shop at local stores, volunteer or give back to community efforts of interest to you and eat locally sourced and prepared food. These small measures are part of purposeful tourism and help to ensure you have a positive social impact.
It’s also crucial that you respect the local culture and traditions, adhere to any local dress codes, and always ask permission before you take photos of people and groups.
Learn About Traditional Cultures and How to Sustain Ancient Traditions
Here in the Yucatán Peninsula, there are many knowledgeable tour companies staffed with local residents, such as Mayan Heritage and other service providers that offer unique adventures. Below are just some examples of authentic local experiences that showcase local traditions and cultures which can be considered when engaging with purposeful tourism.
Sacred Cenotes Cooperative tours
Sacred Cenotes cooperative tours, for example, offers a Mérida area cenotes tour that benefit locals financially while also being kind to the environment. Working together, locals can use the natural resources around them to generate an income while also preserving the stunning natural beauty of the Yucatán peninsula.
Being conscious of purposeful tourism means choosing these cooperative efforts by locals. Being guided by locals is a great way to explore the cenotes that the area is so famous for, while also supporting the local economy and those living in these rural areas. Cenote Yokdzonot, Cenote Xooch, Cenote X’Pakay, and Cenote X’Canché can all be visited on a Merida cenotes tour and should not be missed!
Community Programs Such as the Green Maya Project
Supporting local community projects such as the Green Maya Project is another fantastic way to travel responsibly and give back to the local community. They offer a range of different tours include multi-day retreats for women, bird watching experiences, and family digital detox vacations designed to reconnect you with nature. Sustainability is at the core of everything the Green Maya Project does. They provide zero waste excursions, work with local communities, and pay their team above the livable wage. They also contribute to carbon offsets and a portion of each ticket they sell is donated to the reforestation of mangrove forests.
Cocoa Museum in Uxmal
Visitors to Uxmal should make visiting the local cocoa museum a top priority. Choco-Story Uxmal focuses on chocolate that is produced in the local area and is the first museum of its kind in Mexico. They strive to expose visitors to the role of the Mayans and the Aztecs. You can witness a Chac Chaac ceremony led by a Mayan priest where the importance of pre-Hispanic chocolate is described in detail. You can taste the local cocoa drink that is 100% natural and gain a new understanding of the traditions of the Mayan people.
Travel More Sustainably and Purposefully
On your next trip consider traveling purposeful tourism and sustainability as part of your goal. With the right approach to your next vacation, you can ensure that you have a positive impact on the destinations you choose to visit.
Take a locally operated Merida cenotes tour, eat locally produced food, stay in accommodation that makes sustainability a priority and support the local communities where you are traveling. What’s more, you will have a more enriched and enjoyable time wherever it is that you are going.
We help you plan a purposeful tourism experience.
Mérida Medical Tourism specializes in creating tailored services designed around your personal needs. We respect the environment and support purposeful tourism as part of giving back to Mérida and the Yucatán. Reach out to our knowledgeable team today to learn more about how you can combine your medical, dental, or wellness procedures with a trip to one of the most beautiful locations in all of Mexico.