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Helping people focus on responsible travel practices and stay local on holiday is the cornerstone of community tourism. Immersing yourself in regional events, mingling with the locals and supporting the areas you visit financially means you will not only be contributing to local tourism, but you will also have a richer experience. So here are a few ways to be a responsible tourist and help small towns to continue to thrive and be a place of interest to RV travellers.
1. BUY LOCAL
Spending your hard-earned dollars in small towns is an easy way to support local businesses, participate in sustainable tourism, as well as indulge in a few feel-good moments by knowing you have contributed in some small way. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a big outlay to be significant: it can be as simple as buying a morning coffee at a local cafe instead of a chain store, grabbing some worms for a fishing adventure at the bait and tackle shop, or booking a table at a local restaurant to sample the region’s fine fare. Wine regions are obviously an ideal place to grab a bottle or two for Happy Hours around the campsite, and who can resist the temptations of local cheese or chocolate producers?
Many towns also offer tours of various kinds, whether they are walking tours, bus tours or perhaps adventures by boat, and these are usually run by local businesses. They are a great way to see more of an area and hear about its attractions and history from a local resident.
2. TO MARKET, TO MARKET
While we are on the subject of food, buying from local markets are an ideal way to restock your RV’s larder. Farmers’ markets are specifically produce-based and allow you to interact directly with the cultivators of fruit, vegetables and meat. It’s a brilliant opportunity to not only sample such delights but have a good old chat with the people who actually work the farms.
Other local markets will feature a variety of wares, from homemade jams, bread and relish to craft, artworks, hand-made soap, jewellery and children’s clothing. The diversity is amazing. Shopping here for souvenirs or gifts for family and friends allows you to also interact with locals and support cottage industries. You can find out about various markets through event websites (read on for more details) or through local tourist information offices. For our most recommended Farmers' Markets along the East Coast check out our blog post here.
3. ATTEND AN EVENT
Australia has such a huge array of events throughout the year, it’s very easy to participate and support them with your presence, as well as your wallet. Many of these are fabulous community events that are free or have a small entrance fee. You can take your pick from agricultural shows, sporting events, arts festivals and special events over holiday periods. Do some research before you travel about the areas you’ll likely be visiting and when, and check out the events that may be happening around that time. Or work it the other way and find some events you really like the idea of, and plan your trip around them.
The great news for motorhomers is that, if you were going to stop at a regional music festival such as The Woodford Folk Festival or an outback horse event such as Julia Creek Dirt n Dust Festival, for example, you can camp overnight nearby. You can find events calendars in magazines such as Caravan World, and there are state-based tourism sites that list events for all states and territories:
4. TRY A FARMSTAY
In terms of tourist accommodation, farmstays are the hottest new trend. Owners of large properties all over Australia are adopting the Airbnb approach and leasing out rooms, shed, shearing quarters or spots in paddocks to travellers who are looking for something unique. You get to know the family, stay somewhere usually off the beaten track (or somewhere that feels remote but may only be an hour from a capital city) and you have the opportunity to assist the owners and their families with daily farm tasks. You could be helping to pick fruit on a Queensland mango farm, feeding a family of pigs in South Australia or mustering cattle (or camels!) in the red centre.
Farmstays are a win-win for farmers who may be suffering as a result of the drought, and travellers looking for a more unique experience to tell the grandkids. Peruse sites such as DownUnder Farmstays and Farmstay Camping Australia to see what’s available in the areas you are planning to travel.
5. SPREAD THE WORD
Not every measure of support has to be financial. Writing reviews of shops, events, pubs or places of interest can boost a region’s presence among RV travellers. This can be done online through travel-devoted websites or via Facebook groups you may be part of. Word of mouth around the campfire at Happy Hour is also an excellent way to spread the word about somewhere you really enjoyed - and think that others would too. There’s nothing quite like the power of recommendation.
By taking a ‘responsible holiday’ you will not only be supporting local tourism, but you’ll also have an amazing trip making memories to last a lifetime.
Inspired to travel sustainably and responsible? Why not grab a maui motorhome and become a conscious traveller.