What does it mean to be a REAL Tourist?

When traveling to developing countries, we must be conscious of our impact on local residents. Mass tourism supports foreign parties, denies locals access to economic incentives, and provides the tourist with a diluted experience. REAL tourism benefits both locals and the tourist.


Travel with the goal of making the places you visit better than before you arrived. Support locals, celebrate the culture, and protect the environment


Respect the customs and culture of the place you are visiting. Remember that you traveled for a reason, so be willing to leave your expectations at the airport and embrace the adventure.


Immersing yourself with locals allows you to witness their way of life and genuinely experience the location.


Supporting locals can change their lives and communities, but having an authentic travel experience can also change the life of the traveler!

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” -Confucius

Stay Local

Stay at locally owned accommodations. This can be traditional lodging, or a more immersive option such as a bed and breakfast, guesthouse or homestay. Another option is social enterprise hotels that give back to local communities.

Play Local

Book excursions through a locally owned company that offers local tour guides and cultural activities. For a community-based experience try alternative activities such as agritourism and voluntourism.

Buy Local

Dine at locally owned restaurants, purchase goods from local markets, and support local artisans. Small eateries and street food offer traditional local cuisine for some of the most authentic experiences.

Pledge to be a REAL Tourist

Do you believe that the tourism industry can bring positive change to developing countries? Do you want to be part of the change? Pledge to be a REAL tourist on all your future adventures and join the growing number of sustainably conscious travelers.

I will travel responsibly, ethically, authentically, and I will change lives

“The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
-Anthony Bourdain

Buy Local

Play Local

Stay Local

Tourism Business Financing:

We strive to increase the number of locally owned tourism businesses by providing a low-cost financing option for entrepreneurs that would otherwise not qualify for traditional financing. We offer microloans to locals that wish to start a new tourism business or expand an existing tourism business. Applicants without prior education must complete REAL Tourism Development’s hospitality management training program or business management community courses to ensure successful management of their new or expanded business. We also reward participants whose businesses meet specific socially and environmentally sustainable criteria by offering partial loan payment forgiveness.

University Scholarships:

We can promote local management and ownership positions in the tourism industry by offering a formal education to students who would not otherwise be able to attend university. Each year we will provide one full-ride university scholarship to a local high school student pursuing a degree in Tourism or Hospitality. Preference will be given to students that participate in REAL Tourism Development’s youth outreach program, those that plan to stay in their home country to build their career in tourism, and those most in financial need, as well as to females who historically have lower rates of higher education and employment.

Hospitality Training Centers

We combat unemployment and the lack of qualified local applicants for hospitality positions in developing countries with our hospitality training centers. These centers for at-risk youth and disadvantaged community members will equip graduates for employment in high-paying luxury hotels. Training centers will be part of an operating hotel to provide both formal classroom education as well as practical training and apprenticeship on location. Students will be selected based on need, with a preference given to females due to their higher rates of unemployment. Students will select a program from the areas of housekeeping, restaurant service, culinary, or hotel management. Graduates will be provided with a paid internship at a major high-end hotel, and with assistance finding employment after the internship. And as a nonprofit teaching hotel, all profits go directly into the community to improve their quality of life.