Choose wisely, choose local!

Whenever I travel I try to look for a local service instead of an international chain. Why do I do it? Does it matter where you stay or where you dine? I want to support the local entrepreneurs because it will affect the wellbeing in that country. The locals will use the money to support the local economy.

International chains are spreading all over the world and taking customers from the local entrepreneurs in less-developed countries. International chains have taken a big share in tourism industry. It is not necessarily only a negative thing but they do make the small entrepreneurs’ life harder. The big chains can easily provide massive selection of facilities to feed the customers that are always hungry for more. A small family run businesses face hard time surviving in some areas where big chains have taken tourism over. The problem with big international chains are that the money doesn’t usually stay in that country. The profit will go to the country where the company is originally from.

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Family run hotel providing cute bungalows with little own garden in Thailand.

A good example is Dominican Republic where the hotel complexes offer everything and they have built big fences between the resort and the local community. At least in Finland the tour operators sell all-inclusive packages to Dominican Republic resorts where people don’t have to leave the resort even to go look for food. In consequence the local community stays poor and don’t get the vital tourist income to stay in business. Local entrepreneurs have to fight their way through the all-inclusive resorts which is a challenge itself.

What could you get by choosing a local owned accommodation? You will get closer to the local community and culture. You will see the local way of life which makes us richer. By choosing local service you will give the money to support that country’s own tourism industry.

It’s not only about accommodation that is facing the fact that international chains are taking over the industry. Think about Mc Donald’s. Is there any place where you haven’t seen a Mc Donald’s restaurant? If there would be a decision to make between eating local street food or Mc Donald’s burgers which one would you choose?

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Weirdest delicacy in Kuala Lumpur: ice mixed with some dressings.

We tend to go for the familiar hotel, restaurant or even a grocery store chain because it is easy. You know what you will get there and the things provided are familiar to you. The decision to choose a local option feels more unfamiliar. It’s unknown and that’s why it’s harder to choose. Eventually when we come out of our comfort zone and choose the local service it’s more rewarding. We will gain new experiences, find new flavours and get one step closer to the local culture. We will also support the local entrepreneur culture which benefits the whole economy in that area.

My point with this article is to make us consider the choices we make. I’ve seen in Thailand that people barricade themselves into Hilton hotel and they will maybe open the hotel doors to visit the beach next to the hotel. It just makes me sad because I know what they will miss. They will miss all the wonderful people, the taste of the authentic street food and they won’t see the Thai way of life.

I confess that I love to adore the sun on the pool and drink a cocktail or two but I also wish to get good experiences from the country itself. I hope we can all combine our holidays with local service match to our needs and make the tourism more sustainable income for the locals and support the economy in the country.

What will be your choice?

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