Although tourism has been linked with positive global advancements, the current tourism industry disrupts the livelihoods of many communities around the world, particularly Indigenous communities. In East Africa, tourists often visit Maasai communities without an understanding of their history, culture, and current existence, which contributes to Maasai erasure. The Maasai are also not the primary beneficiaries of tourism, and many Maasai communities do not receive proper compensation for their participation in cultural tours. To generate profit from safaris, tourism operators push the Maasai off of their ancestral homelands, which disturbs their pastoral way of life. Despite these problems in the tourism industry, there are ways that we can simultaneously visit bucket-list destinations without harming the communities who have lived on the land for centuries. 

Engaging with organizations and businesses that redistribute tourism dollars to Indigenous communities is one action we can take to be ethical tourists. Not only does this empower Indigenous communities economically, but it creates a culture of respect and recognition for Indigenous communities as traditional caregivers and occupants of the land. Additionally, opt for organizations that include Indigenous communities as part of their business model, which can include hiring Indigenous safari guides or putting Indigenous people in managerial positions. Indigenous communities have extensive knowledge of the land and ecosystems, and organizations that work with these communities understand that their participation is vital to creating a sustainable tourism industry. Finally, taking time to learn about the history of Indigenous groups before you visit their homelands or go on a safari will not only improve your understanding of their culture but set a precedent of respect, awareness, and appreciation for their communities.

Choosing to travel with organizations that work with Indigenous communities will preserve their culture and lifestyle, establish their role in tourism, and transform the travel industry into one that prioritizes social responsibility. To learn about Adumu Impact Fund’s plan to disrupt the current tourism narrative and create a Maasai-centered tourism industry, visit the “social impact” tab at the top of this page.