Getting the best out of the Christmas ‘village tourism’

Last week I wrote about road safety and the need for those driving from the urban areas to the rural areas, to exercise some level of caution while on the road. This time of the year is well known for a spike in road accidents partly because of the so many drivers that are unfamiliar with driving on highways, fatigued commercial drivers, drivers trying to use their phones while on the road as well as intoxicated drivers.

Last week I wrote about road safety and the need for those driving from the urban areas to the rural areas, to exercise some level of caution while on the road.

This time of the year is well known for a spike in road accidents partly because of the so many drivers that are unfamiliar with driving on highways, fatigued commercial drivers, drivers trying to use their phones while on the road as well as intoxicated drivers.

Since my last article I have seen several posts on social media of cars involved in all sorts of accidents from the fatal ones to minor. One would hope that those pictures of accident scenes that do the rounds on platforms like WhatsApp would in a way compel the rest of us to take more caution while on the road.

Nothing ruins the festive season more than bad news of a terrible accident involving family members.

The festive season as we generally know, is a time best spent with family. This is why some families prefer to gather in their rural homes to share these moments. This mass exodus from the urban areas to the rural areas is in many ways the biggest domestic tourism event in the year. It is a culture that I think deserves to be maintained for it surely has some real benefits for both those visiting the village homes and those they find there.

The obvious benefits are the social ones where family members dispersed by the economic rat race get to catch up and bond with each other. We are very social beings and such moments are nothing short of priceless. New family members are introduced to the older ones children living in the city get a chance to interact with their counterparts living in the rural setting. This does present a couple of cultural shocks but at the same time they are all learning moments.

One thing worth noting when embarking on these trips is the fact that the economies of rural areas are quite small and often struggling. One of the ways of giving back and boosting these economies is by spending your money there instead of carrying everything from the city. You do not have to buy everything from the supermarket you use every day, you can spend some money at the small corner shops in the village and help the owners to take or keep their children in school.

Such wealth redistribution actually does cancel out given that at the end of the day, the city dwellers will most likely fill their cars with free food that is fresh from the rural gardens. This clearly saves the urban dwellers a lot because it serves as a major food and groceries shopping to take them through the typical harsh January. If we are going to get free food from our villages then when should be ready to buy salt and mineral water from our village shops.

Tourism as an industry is felt most when money trickles down to the most vulnerable. If we make it a habit to buy things from them, then an anticipatory economy will grow. In other words those in the rural areas will think about what the city dwellers need and they will ensure that it is available in their small shops.

I also always argue that this is a good time to pass by the schools around to get a picture of whether the gap between rural and urban areas is reducing or growing wider. To further understand this you can even conduct a simple chat with a child attending one of the schools nearby. If you can, you may carry some reading materials that you could donate to the school or just to the little boy or girl who you chatted with.

However desist from taking pictures of the rural people without seeking their consent. Many of them are not on social media and may not know when an innocent photo of theirs ends up as an internet meme. Instead, you can take nice photos of your village, the food and so much more and then you share that with the rest of the world.

Take short video of traditional delicacies being prepared and upload them online for the world to see more of what we have to offer. Try to put your phone down and enjoy the experience, the fresh air and the good food like a real tourist would. Above all, enjoy yourself. Merry Christmas.  

Views, expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the New Times Publications.