DEVELOPING THE GLOBAL ALTERNATIVE TOURISM NETWORK
The ethos of YMCA has focused on the holistic development of people. It has led to programmes with objectives of sustainable lifestyles, economic development of marginal communities, and preservation of environment and ecology. Sustainable tourism was seen as a means to implement such outcomes in a unique, interesting, and integrated way. To develop and ground this concept amongst YMCA leaders, APAY organised a series of workshops that have helped develop the Global Alternative Tourism Network. These events were:
- The Consultation on YMCA Global Alternative Tourism Network, Chiangmai, Thailand (27-30, June 2009).
- Workshop on Pilgrimage in Search of Truth, Kathmandu, Nepal (February 19-25, 2011).
- International Forum on Alternative Tourism, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (24-30 November 2011).
- Global Alternative Tourism Network Planning Workshop, Bangkok, Thailand (31 Aug - 2 Sept, 2012).
Beginning with the Chiang Mai gathering, and working through follow up meetings, the framework for GATN was established. This was expressed in the word C H A N G E, which was also an acronym and suggested a model. A meaningful leisure/travel experience conducted within the spirit of CHANGE provides a platform for respecting values of human dignity and global solidarity between host and the traveler. APAY also believes that such a transformed tourism can proactively pave the way for ethical human encounters and solidarity for the transformation of the visitor and the community.
The Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs
The Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs is a regional alliance of the Young Men's Christians Association in the Asia and Pacific. Following the inverted triangle approach in the holistic development of a person, the APAY seeks to develop the Mind, Body and Spirit of an individual. It aims to empower the youth and through its programs, it aspires to develop the community.
The APAY is composed of twenty-four (24) states and territories sharing the same mission as stated in the Paris Basis.
"The Young Men's Christian Associations seek to unite those young men who, regarding Jesus Christ as their God
and Saviour according to the Holy Scriptures, desire to be His disciples in their doctrine and in their life, and to
associate their efforts for the extension of His Kingdom amongst young men." formulated at the First World
Conference of YMCAs held in Paris in 1855
Affirming the Paris Basis adopted in 1855, as the ongoing foundation statement of the mission of the YMCA, at the threshold of the third millennium, we declare that the YMCA is a world-wide Christian, ecumenical, voluntary movement for women and men with special emphasis on and the genuine involvement of young people and that it seeks to share the Christian ideal of building a human community of justice with love, peace and reconciliation for the fullness of life and creation.
Each member YMCA is therefore called to focus on certain challenges, which will be prioritised according to its own context. These challenges which are an evolution of the Kampala Principles adopted in 1973, include:
- Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and striving for spiritual, intellectual and physical well being of individuals and wholeness of communities.
- Empowering all, especially young people and women to take increased responsibilities and assume leadership at all levels and working towards an equitable society.
- Advocating for and promoting the rights of women and upholding the rights of children.
- Fostering dialogue and partnership between people of different faiths and ideologies and recognising the cultural identities of people and promoting cultural renewal.
- Committing to work in solidarity with the poor, dispossessed, uprooted people and oppressed racial, religious and ethnic minorities.
- Seeking to be mediators and reconcilers in situations in situations of conflict and working for meaningful participation and advancement of people for their self-determination.
- Defending God's creation against all that would destroy it and preserving and protecting the earth's resources for coming generations.
To face these challenges, the YMCA will develop patterns of co-operation at all levels that enable self-sustenance and self-determination.
Global Alternative Tourism Network or GATN is a network of different YMCAs that promote Alternative Tourism. Initiated by the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs, the GATN is a community-based initiative anchored within the concepts of fair-trade and global citizenship. The Young Men's Christian Association, because of its unique community-based policies and extensive world network, strive for healthy and meaningful tourism experiences aim to engage local communities and promote a fair, responsible and beneficial model for tourism.
The CHANGE Principle lists the folllowing as the features of the YMCA Alternative Tourism experience:
- Reflect Community Based Tourism Values through community participation in Alternative Tourism programmes
- Understand and help address the Economic, Political, Social, Cultural needs of the community
- Empower the community towards sustainability
- Promote and consuming local products
- Ensure benefits remain in the community to ensures that the benefits remain in the community
- Protect the dignity and rights of the communities
- Pursue reasonable policies for the benefit of the communities
- Promote local networking
HOLISTIC IN APPROACH
- Challenge tourists with experiences for developing Body, Mind & Spirit
- Values based on understanding and serving others
- Appreciate local culture, values and wisdom
- Learn to care for each other whether visitors or hosts
- Create innovative & learning tour programmes
ADVOCATES GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP AND GLOBAL NETWORKING
- Multicultural coexistence, interdependence and global solidarity
- Promote values of Global Ethics such as: Human Rights, Peace Cooperation, Justice anddevelopmnent
- Concerned with challenged communities facing concerns such as HIV_AIDS, interfaith and gender issues
- Respond to the call for unity implicit in the YMCA motto:"That they all may be One"
NATURE AND HERITAGE CONSERVING
- Environmentally responsible, and ensure low environmental impact and ecologically sustainable outcomes
- Understand ecological issues of the visited community
- Build awareness among turist during the programmes such as Natural Resource conservation
GENDER AND CHILD SENSITIVE
- Build awareness among tourists for gender just and child protective
- Empower youth and women
- Provide affordable and competitive programmes to tourists
- Ensure sustainable and income generative outcomes for communities
- Develop volunteer and philantrophic resources
- Promote ethical consumption of local products and services
- Optimize utilization of YMCA resources
- Coordinate promotions and sharing of best practice within the global networks of YMCAs and ecumenical communities
YMCA and Alternative Tourism
The Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs is a membership of 24 countries in the Asia and Pacific. It has been conducting several programmes with objectives of a sustainable lifestyle, economic development of marginal communities, and preservation of environment and ecology. Sustainable tourism was seen as a means to implement such outcomes in a unique, interesting, and integrated way.
YMCA is one of the most representative civil society movements in the world. This is borne out in the various works and social policies it has carried out including enabling life and peace, reducing poverty, protecting the environment, enhancing human rights, promoting fair trade, improving public health and sanitation, eradicating illiteracy, and providing emergency relief.
With such a history, community-based Alternative Tourism becomes an obvious area for the YMCA to engage in, as one of its numerous social movement programmes promoting social change that shapes its nature and determine its existence. In fact, the YMCA has been traditionally involved with the tourism industry since its inception. YMCAs around the world have been carrying out some functions of tourism through their guesthouses and hostel programs. People from various regions have been using these facilities in the global YMCA network. Experience from this involvement, and also from other social programs, have enabled YMCA to accumulate facilities, infrastructures, management and other skills for implementing and running alternative tourism.
At the time of its founding, YMCA was active around Europe and North America, and now it has over 58 million members and regular beneficiaries from 127 countries and some regions. This provides a massive network to help promote the exchange of information and human resources needed to respond to the requirements of supply and demand of alternative tourism.