New ‘Responsible Travel’ Guide Helps Tourists Act on Principles

As a book, “Responsible Travel Guide Cambodia” is a colorful, well-designed work that even people living in Cambodia may like to keep on hand.

Written in a straightforward manner, with vivid maps and just enough information for a tourist to easily consult while on a mototaxi or in a tuk-tuk, the 102-page guide produced by US volunteers was done with vital issues in mind.

As co-author Shoshana Kerewsky will explain at the book launch to­night at Monument Books, one is­sue has to do with helping tourists act on their principles while doing nothing more than having a nice trip in Cambodia.

“Most people would like to feel that when they visit a country they don’t harm people. I think that the bottom-line consideration of responsible travel is probably: Are you doing something even unintentionally that may harm people or not benefit them,” explained Ms Ke­rewsky, a psychology teacher at the University of Oregon.

“We wanted to try to bring people’s attention to the idea that, even if you are not going to Cambodia to volunteer, you’re not going to work for an NGO, you’re not making do­nations…you can still make a positive contribution with your tourist dollars.”

Guesthouses, restaurants, craft shops and arts organizations listed all have policies against child-trafficking and sex tourism; treat their staff fairly and pay them accordingly; and keep their profits in Cambodia. They also may run educational, social or environmental programs.

The book, published by Wild Iris Press, was done as a team effort by members of the US NGO Friend­ship with Cambodia. Coordinated by Pujita Nanette Mayeda, who is listed as the book’s author, facts and data were collected and checked by the NGO members during numerous trips to the country, Ms Kerew­sky said.

One other issue briefly broached in the book concerns Western volunteers and what Ms Kerewsky calls “functional colonialism.” Her advice to avoid this is simple: Listen to Cambodians rather than telling them what they need.

The book launch starts at 6 pm.

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