Transitions Abroad Magazine Nov/Dec 2004, Vol. XXVIII NO. 3
Abroad at Home
Back Door Travel
Program News & Notes
From the Editor
Since founding Transitions Abroad in 1977, Dr. Clay A. Hubbs has published thousands of articles exemplifying travel at its best—people-to-people exchanges that enrich both the host and visitor alike. In his own travels Clay has strived to go the step further of leaving a place better than he found it. This seems fitting to share with you, for even when Clay is not traveling he upholds this philosophy. During a 2-year struggle with a life-threatening cancer, Clay has still managed to remain an integral part of each issue, from selecting and editing articles to ensuring that Transitions Abroad continues to encourage travel that is educational and transformative.
I am very happy to report that this summer Clay had a long-awaited and successful bone marrow transplant. While on the road to recovery, he has continued to work on this issue of Transitions Abroad. During a telephone call only two weeks after his surgery (when he probably should have been resting), Clay suggested we change the name of our lead section to “Immersion Travel” in order to better reflect the interaction with locals that is characteristic of Transitions Abroad articles. And since giving back to the people in the countries where we travel is an essential part of immersion travel, Clay also proposed a new column: “Activist Responsible Travel.”
We introduce this new column with contributing editor Rob Sangster’s inspiring piece on founding a water sanitation company after his first visit to Africa. I encourage you to read the article and consider Clay’s call for submissions on ways to give back to the people in the countries where you travel.
In this spirit of responsible travel, we interview Transitions Abroad responsible travel editor Deborah McLaren, author of Rethinking Tourism & Ecotravel. In the July/August issue, Deborah offered the best resources for responsible travel. Ron Mader, Transitions Abroad ecotravel editor and founder of Planeta.com, now follows up in this issue with an additional selection of responsible travel and ecotravel resources.
While “ecotourism” is a buzzword, it is still in its nascence. Too often ecotourism development is imposed on a community from the outside. This is changing, however, thanks to people like Deborah and Ron, and the many other Transitions Abroad editors, writers, and readers who arrange their travel with the locals of a host country. Locals have a vested interest in seeing the whole of their community flourish—not just the environment, but also their people and their lifestyle.
The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, one of the world’s top ten bio-diversity hot spots, is a prime example of what is possible when tourism policy is generated from within a community. With its conscious control of tourism and development, Bhutan has managed to protect its people’s way of life and its environment, while accommodating responsible travelers like Martin Li (see “Traveling Through the Land of the Thunder Dragon”). Although Bhutan is opening its doors, unlike so many countries that have tragically sold out to the top tourism dollar, it is doing so with caution and respect for its people’s needs, deeply held beliefs, and reverence for nature.