Ethical travels in Cambodia

helen Beeby in cambodiaMany Australians love to travel. But how we travel can have an impact on local communities – often in unexpected ways.

The Commission for Mission’s Uniting Journeys program introduces tourists to the joys and challenges of responsible travel. Uniting Church Adult Fellowship (UCAF) Network editor Helen Beeby (pictured) explored the rich and complex history of Cambodia during one of the tours. The tour group visited a range of famous sites, from the iconic 1000-year-old Angkor Wat temple to Pol Pot’s notorious ‘killing fields’.

Ms Beeby, who had never visited Cambodia before, said the tour was “a life-changing experience”.

“Travelling with Uniting Journeys was incredibly thought-provoking and widens your experience of people and culture,” Ms Beeby said.

“I thoroughly recommend people go on a Uniting Journeys tour.”

Cambodia is a beautiful country, with a remarkable culture and spectacular natural landscapes. But it is also beset by extreme poverty and rising inequality.

An estimated 98 per cent of souvenirs sold in Cambodia are imported and sold by foreign entrepreneurs. This means disadvantaged locals rarely benefit from tourism. Without undertaking prior research, tourists can unintentionally perpetuate systems of injustice.

Uniting Journeys ensures more of the travelling expenditure gets into local hands. It offers participants more than just a sightseeing trip; it is an opportunity to engage with a country’s political and social challenges.

During the tour, ‘conversation partners’ facilitate discussions on how to travel responsibly as participants reflect on the impact they have on the local community. Travellers are encouraged to minimise their carbon footprint by reducing waste and to be mindful of using scarce local resources such as water, food, equipment and services.

Visit for more tips on how you can travel ethically. The next Uniting Journeys tour will visit India from 7-21 April and will combine sightseeing with practical support for a health clinics program in Punjab. Contact for an itinerary.

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