Global Alternative Tourism Network
The Global Alternative Tourism Network is an initiative of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs. It is a network of different YMCAs that conducts and promotes alternative tourism. 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.
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 GATN Mission Statement
The YMCAs of Asia and Pacific are committed to a sustainable alternative tourism that empowers youth to help restore the environment and ecology, uphold the local culture and heritage, and promote a better quality of life for the local community.
The Pillars of GATN
Learning and Sharing
Programmes in the YMCA Global Alternative Tourism will provide learning and sharing opportunities for the visitors and host community.
Care for the Present and the Future
Programmes in the GATN will care for the present and future through protection of the rights of the indigenous people, addressing the challenges of exploitation, Climate change, empowering youth and women, caring the elderly and promoting peace and harmony.
Each programs listed in the GATN are developed by the YMCAs by prioritizing different issues which are relevant in their context or which should be celebrated, considering the diversity of culture and environment. Special care has been made for the preservation of the environment, values, rights of the local people and local cultures.
Beneficial for Hosts and Travellers
Programmes in the GATN are taking place in communities, natural and cultural heritage sites and environments. YMCA recognizes Global alternative tourism as a tool to conserve and enhance local, natural and cultural heritage as well as strengthening the local economy. Emphasis are made for empowering the local communities to exercise control over the forms of tourism that they wish to see in their communities, while developing the programs for GATN.
All GATN programs provide safe, affordable, meaningful travel with community experiences for the participants and ensure quality services at reasonable cost.