Tourist Education Program
Our Tourist Education Program helps visitors to Ladakh become more aware of their impact on the region, and offers guidelines for culturally, economically and ecologically responsible behavior.
It also fosters intercultural dialogue and understanding between tourists and Ladakhis, critically explores ‘big picture’ economic and development issues, and promotes localization globally.
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Resources for visitors
Film screenings in Leh
From June through September, we organize screenings in Leh of our three films ‘Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh’, ‘The Economics of Happiness’ and ‘PLANET LOCAL: A Quiet Revolution’. The films are followed by wide-ranging discussions facilitated by Local Futures staff and volunteers.
We also offer private workshops and film screenings for tourist groups by arrangement. For more information, please contact us.
Mindful travel tour
In 2022 we hosted a trip for students of the VCIL Travel School, who visited Leh and several ancient monasteries, and lived with Ladakhi families in the villages of Tarchit and Liksey.
Impacts of development
After centuries of relative isolation, Ladakh was suddenly thrown open to “development” and tourism in the mid-1970s. This brought many changes to the previously peaceful, prosperous and largely self-reliant culture. Along with junk food, plastic waste, toxins and pollution, Ladakh was suddenly confronted with unemployment, homelessness, and religious conflict.
Equally, Western-style education, television and advertising – glamorizing an urban consumer life-style – have had dramatic psychological effects giving the impression that life in the West is one of limitless wealth and leisure and, in turn, that rural life and traditional culture are primitive and inferior. The influx of tourists has added to the impression that life in the West is infinitely better than in Ladakh.
Tourists will often spend the same amount in a day that a whole family in a Ladakhi village might spend in a year. As a consequence, Ladakhis, particularly the young people, feel that their lifestyle seems poor and backward. Tourists, in turn, often unwittingly reinforce these feelings and insecurities. Having no way of knowing the degree to which Ladakhis have traditionally been self-reliant, they are often horrified to hear of daily wages as low as five dollars, or of an absence of electricity. Generally, neither tourists nor Ladakhis reflect on the fact that money plays a completely different role in the West, where it’s needed for basic survival.
These misunderstandings are born of a lack of complete information and real communication between tourists and Ladakhis. We have found that greater knowledge about what is happening around the world, not isolationism, is the surest way for Ladakhis to take control over their own future.
Recognizing that tourism is a powerful agent of change, we make great efforts to reach out to visitors to invite them to participate in solutions at every level: from cultural awareness, to ecologically sensitive behavior, to supporting alternatives both in Ladakh and in their own home communities.
To learn more about Ladakh, we recommend reading the book ‘Ancient Futures’ by Local Futures’ founder, Helena Norberg-Hodge.
The book is a moving portrait of tradition and change in Ladakh, a scathing critique of the global economy, and a rallying call for economic localization.