Introduction

We all love to travel to exotic places to learn about new cultures, encounter the wonders of the world, to come in contact with nature or wildlife, to shop, to spend a few days relaxing by the pool in a warm country or to meet people. Whatever the reason for travel, very few people get to dive deeply into the culture and day to day life of the country they are visiting. Most tourists learn about a country through travel guides or tours. Few people venture (for various reasons) away from the main touristic sites to the truly wonderful “reality” of a country’s people as experienced in rural areas, often a world apart from what one normally sees in tourist spots.

Moreover, tourism as we know it mainly profits the travel agencies, governments, hotel chains, middle-men and a few others through commissions. Only a paltry remainder filters through to the vast majority of the host country’s population. Currently, tourism is said to contribute 10% to the world’s economy but a very small percentage is yet to reach the bottom of the wealth pyramid (as in the case of vulnerable rural communities for instance).

To address some of these issues, Etose was founded to provide ethical tourism for a cause with the aim to provide a unique travel experience while simultaneously contributing to the development of the visited rural communities. Etose provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see and experience off-the-beaten track rural cultures and heritage (which few other tour organizers offer). It provides a learning environment by educating the tourists on the local, environmental, socio-cultural and economic issues and at the same time serving as a linkage between the tourists, partnering NGOs and locals. The socially conscious tours allow the tourist to make a meaningful personal contribution to the development of the host country, and in return gain some personal satisfaction.