GATN Basic Training in Shanghai
The National Council of YMCAs of China hosted the GATN Basic Training that was held at the Shanghai YMCA from 23-27 April 2018. Thirty two (32) participants from 10 local YMCAs and YWCAs of China and one each from Singapore, Cambodia and Mongolia attended the training. The training was facilitated by Steve Chiu from Taichung YMCA and Chan Beng Seng, GATN Coordinator of APAY. Of particular significance, this was the first significant collaboration on programs between APAY and YMCA China.
The APAY has been developing this Global Alternative Tourism Network for a few years among the YMCAs in Asia Pacific region. The main purpose of GATN is change the negative impact of mass tourism and to promote a form of travel that is sustainable and responsible.
Alternative Tourism promotes fair and just forms of traveling activities between members of different communities, in order to achieve mutual understanding, solidarity and equality amongst the participants. It is a form of tourism that has minimum negative impact on the physical and sociocultural environment in destination areas and the local community is substantially benefited from the tourism programme.
Unlike mass tourism, the main characteristics of the YMCA Alternative Tourism follow the “C.H.A.N.G.E” principles that seeks to be Community centered, Holistic in approach, Advocating global citizenship and networking, Nature conserving, Gender and child sensitive, and Economically viable.
At the local YMCAs, Alternative Tourism has been an effective programme for community organizing, movement building, promoting community service and developing volunteerism. It is also an effective education tool for advocacy on important issues such as environment protection and climate change, sustainable development, global citizen and human rights. And for many YMCAs, Alternative Tourism is also an effective programme for income generation.
The following activities are part of a series of programmes planned to strengthen the alternative tourism engagement of APAY which specifically aims:
• to provide basic understanding on alternative tourism and basic skills in developing and marketing alternative sites
• to strengthen the implementation of CHANGE principles
• to discuss current issues and trends in alternative tourism,
• to provide tools and guidelines in building sustainable and responsible tourism programs
• to contribute to the income generation capacity of the local YMCAs
The training started with a simple devotion where Pastor Zhai Weizhong, a member of the Shanghai YMCA, shared on traveling responsibly in order to preserve the beauty of God’s creation. Mr. Wu Jian Rung, NGS of YMCA and YWCA in China, in his opening address encouraged the participants to be innovative and professional in their work in order to meet all the challenges and changes that confront YMCAs today.
One of the highlight of the training was the site visit to the Loushan Community Center that houses the Luoshan Home for the Elderly and the Hua Ai Children Training Center. The Community Center is one of many that are being run by the Shanghai YMCA. After a tour of the facilities in the morning, the group planned and executed an impromptu program for and with the elderly residents of the community center.
The training concluded with local YMCAs designing and presenting sample alternative tourism proposals using the tools and knowledge learned from the workshop. As an active sending YMCA, Steve Chiu provided useful suggestions and evaluations to strengthen each of the proposals.
The generous hospitality provided by the NCY China was warm and afforded the participants to participate fully in the program. As mention earlier, this GATN workshop was very special because, this was the first significant collaboration on programs between APAY and YMCA China. We look forward to NCY China’s active participation in the future programs of APAY.
- Chan Beng Seng, GATN Coordinator