Emmaus International

The seven Emmaus organisations in Asia have been developing ecotourism initiatives since 2008. This form of tourism, based on sustainability and solidarity, helps the organisations pay for some of their activities.

Whilst public and private funding in Asia is sliding and funding is increasingly allocated to specific projects, in 2008 Emmaus organisations in Asia began considering how to generate income in order to preserve their independence and ultimately become self-supporting. “We wanted to be able to continue developing projects we consider important, whilst becoming less dependent on insecure sources of funding" says Kamal, Emmaus Asia Coordinator.

With support from Emmaus International, the seven organisations in Asia began brainstorming ideas to generate income. They wanted to develop a project using their existing facilities. Very soon, they realised their visitor centres could be used to accommodate tourists. “We noticed that tourists were becoming increasingly interested in development projects and natural areas, whereas before they only used to visit cities and historical sites”, Kamal explains. That’s where the idea of developing an ecotourism programme came about.

150724 Ecotourisme groupe

The idea is for the region’s Emmaus organisations to accommodate visitors, whilst raising their awareness about the importance of protecting natural resources and introducing them to local culture and art. Visitors also have an opportunity to discover Emmaus’s alternative initiatives, which the organisations have now been implementing for several years in the areas of water, sustainable agriculture, women’s involvement, ethical finance and handicraft.

150724 Ecotourisme infrastructures

Since 2009, Emmaus organisations' annual solidarity sales, which are run around the globe, have gone towards developing accommodation for the eco-tourists. So since 2010, all the Emmaus organisations in Asia – in India, Bangladesh and Indonesia – have been able to open their doors to eco-tourists, who mainly come from France, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. They pay between 10 and 25 Euros a day to stay with the Emmaus organisations and discover their work.

150724 Ecotourisme travail

“I wasn’t expecting to have such an amazing experience”, says Gaël, a young Frenchman who stayed with the Emmaus organisations in South India last year. “Emmaus organisations’ projects in India are very different from those in Europe, but they’re just as important and can make real changes to the lives of the beneficiaries.” The Emmaus organisations try pack in as much sight-seeing as possible, with visits to ecotourism sites and rural development projects. Visitors are also made aware of issues that are important to the local area and the organisations also try to truly involve them in their work.

So far, 30 to 50 eco-tourists have been hosted each year. However, the organisations have capacity to receive up to 400 visitors. In the long run, they’d like to increase visitor numbers by 50%. 

Emmaus Asia now aims to spread the word and has just issued a leaflet presenting the programme. Now’s the time to discover Emmaus’s work in Asia!

150724 Ecotourisme brochure EN