Global Alternative Tourism Network (GATN)

GATN Basic Training in Luang Prabang

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Last Updated (Friday, 10 November 2017 16:18)

The YMCA of Luang Prabang hosted the eighteen (18) participants from Chiang Mai YMCA, YMCA of Kuala Lumpur, and Taichung YMCA who joined the National Training Workshop led by Chan Beng Seng as Trainer / Resource Person.

 

This is a program of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY) and the Global Alternative Tourism Network (GATN) held on 5-10 October 2017. It is an essential training platform for local YMCAs who are interested in developing, hosting and eventually sustaining their role as contributors in the alternative tourism industry. The training is devised by the APAY to deliver integrating parallels and strengthen local YMCA programmes while sustainably recapturing the income generation capacity and concentration of scaling community impact within the local YMCA.

 

The training started with a visit to two sample GATN sites- Ban Nayangtai which is known for its rare exquisite tapestries and cloth products made of silk cotton threads from rainforest cotton trees, and Ban Chan, a traditional tight-knit pottery village where participants learned not only about the process of making traditional pottery but also taking part in creation process itself, on traditional kick wheels.

 

During the training, participants were provided highly valued in-depth knowledge, best practices, case studies, productive arguments, beneficial statistics and expert opinions that were disseminated through both outdoor and indoor sessions. GATN Coordinator, Beng Seng introduced the participants on the new philosophies of Alternative and Responsible Tourism. In return, participants learned in full detail the root obligation of C.H.A.N.G.E (Community centered, Holistic approach, Advocating global citizenship, Nature and heritage conserving, Gender and child sensitive; and Economically viable) which thrives on accountability and stewardship.

 

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GATN Site Sampling in Malaysia

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Last Updated (Thursday, 10 August 2017 13:11)

It has been estimated that each year about 4,500-5,000 YMCA youth from Asia Pacific travel for work camps, service learning trips, meetings and workshops – broadly described as Alternative Tourism. Program Secretaries are always on the lookout for new and interesting and exciting places for their youth groups to conduct their International Service Trips, Cultural Exchanges, Youth Exchanges, Exposures and Learning Trips, etc.

For more than 3 years APAY has been providing training to local YMCAs to develop Alternative Tourism programs so that our young people will learn to travel more responsibly and sustainably. The GATN Site Sampling designed specifically for trip organizers and YMCAs Program Secretaries who are on the lookout for new and interesting sites to conduct their Service Learning Trip, Cultural Exchange, and other Youth Exchange Programs. The main objective of this GATN Site Sampling is for hosting YMCAs to introduce new and interesting alternative tourism programs to sending YMCAs.

The first GATN Site Sampling was held in Malaysia on 19-26 July 2017. The program was hosted by YMCAs of Kuala Lumpur, Kedah and Penang with participants from YMCAs of Guangzhou, Metropolitan Singapore and Daegu, Korea.

The three hosting YMCAs prepared various itineraries to highlight some of the activities that they could offer as programs for Work Camps, Service Learning Trips, Cultural Exchanges, Youth Exchanges and other programs.

YMCA of Kuala Lumpur was the first leg of the program wherein heritage walk in the city, nature walk at the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), and a cultural presentation at Malaysia Tourism Center (MATIC) were among the activities. One very memorable highlight was the Disabled Football experience at University Putra Malaysia. The participants had an opportunity to meet and play football with the Malaysia National Blind Football Team. Not only was it a new experience but it was also an inspiring one to realize how sports can empower even people with disabilities.

The Heritage Walk showed how multicultural Malaysia is, with worship places of different religious groups built in close proximity with one another. This showed that despite having various beliefs, people can still live harmoniously with one another.

After three days in Kuala Lumpur, the participants travelled to the north of Malaysia by train to visit the YMCA of Kedah for the second leg of the program. YMCA of Kedah welcomed the participants to its Y Café which is an inspiring testament of youth work in Kedah Y. The youth of Kedah Y painted and furnished the whole Y Café with recycled materials. The activities in Kedah YMCA include a visit to an experimental/research oyster farm and staying overnight on a boathouse, a 500 B.C. archeological site, an organic rice farm, and the NTA Refugee Home School that provides primary/elementary education to the Rohingya refugee children.

Indeed, the visit to these communities was very fruitful and an eye opening experience to see how community work by the YMCA and various NGO go a long way to contribute towards building a sustainable and peaceful society.

The last leg of the Site Sampling was hosted by the YMCA of Penang. Several activities such as rambutan fruit picking in the YMCA Campsite, night walk at the Georgetown UNESCO World Heritage Tour, and a cultural exposure to a local Malay Community were prepared by the host

The highlight of the itinerary was the visit to a local Malay community where participants ate with the locals and experience the traditional Malay rural lifestyle, like family sitting and eating together, making handicrafts, and playing takraw among others. The local community also showed the participants how to make some Malay delicacies. Aside from this, the participants also visited a rice paddy field, a fruit farm, learned about rubber tapping and visited a former mining site that has now become a place for photo enthusiasts.

An unplanned bonus was the opportunity to visit briefly with the YMCA of Lahat Road, Ipoh to share our program and introduce GATN to them.

Though time was limited, the Site Sampling was a good opportunity to have a taste of what each hosting YMCA had to offer. The hosting YMCAs hoped that they have succeeded to show some of the activities and communities that sending YMCAs can expect when they come to conduct Work Camps, Service Learning Trips, Cultural Exchanges, Youth Exchanges and other programs.

For more information on these different sites, you may refer to www.ymcatourism.org, or you may also contact their respective General Secretaries and GATN coordinators for each YMCAs.

Read more: GATN Site Sampling in Malaysia

   

4th GATN Managers Training

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Last Updated (Thursday, 11 May 2017 12:29)

4th GATN Managers Training Conducted in Matara

The National Council of YMCAs of Sri Lanka and the YMCA of Matara hosted the 4th GATN Managers Training held on 25-28 April 2017 in Matara, Sri Lanka. Ten (10) GATN Managers both from the sending and receiving YMCA joined the said activity to share experiences, learn new things and welcome new challenges that would further YMCA Alternative Tourism (AT).

The three-day training allowed the managers to share information and activities that reduce their carbon footprint. From this, the diversity of the projects for each alternative site can be noted which allows the YMCA to offer varying experiences. Similarly, the concept of water footprint was shared to the group as part of the goal of the GATN to be a sustainable and responsible tourism thereby challenging the YMCAs to also work towards the reduction of their water footprint.

Geared more towards improving and taking the quality of GATN to a higher level, topics such as community-based tourism, expectations of the sending YMCAs and, review and improvement of the GATN Code of Conduct were among the discussion. Mr. Na Hyo Woo from Good Travel also challenged the YMCA to go out of its box and ensure its quality so that it can match the ones already in the market. Moreover, he also encouraged the importance of collecting stories and telling the stories as part of the marketing for GATN. One of the highlights of the Managers Training was the discussion on GATN Certification which will help maintain the standards of the AT programs.

In the end, the training served as an avenue to share current programs and practices of the different YMCAs and it gave an opportunity to reflect and learn more about how the programs can be improved. The training also gave a wider perspective on why alternative tourism is significant because it is not merely about providing a different kind of tourism experience for the people but it is more about contributing to the community and the environment.

Finally, the warm welcome of the host YMCA was appreciated. They showcased their culture through the food served and the dance shown during the welcome program. Yet more than this, it is inspiring to see the efforts they are doing in the community. The short visit to the school and to the organic farm that provides food to the twenty-five (25) local families who manage it is an inspiration to improving and expanding the GATN programs.

Indeed, it was a learning experience to witness this training as it also paved the way to better understanding of the program, its significance and how it affects the community. Most of all, seeing the impact it leaves to people who have been part of the program, whether as a sending or a receiving YMCA, is a motivation to continue making change through the GATN.

 

Read more: 4th GATN Managers Training