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.