Tribal tourism is an interesting trip to a rather primitive world where you are exposed to a culture quite different from your own. It is far less modern gadget based, but more dependent on the nature and the surrounding environment in the rawest form. Tribal tourism is no longer an anthropologist’s area of interest.
The appeal of this form of tourism is on the rise and infectious. It is fast drawing the attention of common tourists. Tribal tourism can be an eye-opener, an experience of extreme delight and it could be educative. What the tourist basically doing is exploring a civilization that may appear remote and outlandish, weird and outdated.
Having the right mindset for tribal tourism
Here, you need to put yourself in the right frame of mind. If the tribal customs do not appeal you and you are only interested in the jungle beauties half clad in revealing apparel well stay at home. Tribal tourism is not your cup of tea.
You need to look beyond your limited views that are guided by a restrictive intellect. Once you try and succeed in understanding the philosophy that runs this apparently prehistoric society, interest will creep in. You will realize there is much more to explore in a tribal civilization than just folk dances and rituals.
Pockets of tribal settlements are scattered across the globe. These primitive societies with their apparently inexplicable cults and beliefs and their typical ways of life are not much exposed to the civilized world. On the other way round, a few initiated city-breds are acquainted with the existence of myriad tribes confined within their private world where a modernized living is simply unthinkable.
Mother Nature and her forces play a crucial role in guiding them through their day to day struggle for existence. Witch doctors and Shamans design and govern their obscure belief systems and offer explanations when deviations surface and misfortune strikes an otherwise straight and simple mode of survival although barbed with natural hardships.
Destinations for tribal tourism:
Tourists with a curiosity travel to tribal areas to get an insight into their world, which is usually nestled amid unspoiled and quaint surroundings. The environment is ruled by a startling mix of flora and fauna. The enthusiasts with a thirst to explore the tribal life are found thrilled at their rituals and conventions that may look bizarre and mostly untouched and unpolluted by the venom spewed by civilization.
Tribal populations are concentrated in awesome destinations like Papua New Guinea, the continents of Africa and South America, the Incredible India, the group of Polynesian and Pacific Islands, certain parts of East Indies like the wild and wonderful Borneo and perhaps many more exotic locales far away from civilization yet to figure in our familiar and conventional world atlas.
Prime tourism attractions:
Tourists to tribal destinations get enchanted by the beauty of art pieces and crafts fashioned out locally by tribal artists. The imagination and subtle touch that go into these local merchandises are worth a sight and certainly are worth a buy. Their sense of finesse is awe-inspiring. A number of decorative pieces are crafted by wood products and stone, shells and animal bones.
A range of products from smoking pipes, hats, headgears, bird traps simply fascinate the tourists. Finely woven handlooms and woolens are examples of brilliant tribal artistry. Wonderful crafts are designed and the dexterity is remarkable and noticed among several tribes inhabiting different corners of the globe.
The Nagas and other North East Indian tribes, the tribal population of Odisha, Gujarat, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan in India would simply stun you with their craftsmanship. The Australian aboriginals and the New Zealand Maoris are not far behind in the field of art and crafts as are the African and South American tribes.
The talent is inherent in the bloodline and perfected to precision over years of practice. Exploration, comprehension, and appreciation of tribal art form a very significant component of tribal tourism. It is both educative and fascinating!
Boomerang, the Aussie aboriginal hunting weapon is an enigmatic piece of wonder. It grips the tourist attention in a jiffy. Apart from its ability to back track along its own path to the chucker, it is an arresting piece of artifact. That kangaroos could be hurled at and hunted by a boomerang may have been a myth, but its sharp edges must have been used for skinning a fallen prey.
Exquisite pieces of hair combs are crafted out of razor sharp piranha teeth by Indian tribes settled in the depths of Amazon. All these tribes discussed are fierce warriors who witnessed and participated in several intertribal wars culminating in gore and blood bath.
Some of them were headhunters and may have been cannibal as well long time back. It is intriguing to note how the same fingers that were trained on slaughter and tricks of clan warfare could carve out relics of delicate beauty collecting appreciation from tourists on a visit.
It is normally observed that the positional advantage of tribal villages offers you an opportunity to combine wild life tourism and tribal tourism. The proximity of tribal settlements to the forested area makes it possible to watch both wildlife and tribal folks all in action.
Left to their own elements and to their typical habitat they are a treat for sure. Tribal tourism has a future ahead, and it helps contribute financial input to the tourism industry and eventually to the tribal welfare fund.
This tourism helps remove the invisible obstacles between the tribal and civilized world. The obstacles created by cultural and social disparity has created a rift between the jungle people and people who live in the urban concrete jungle. Frequent contacts with the tourists and of course the outside world have made the tribes realize that times have changed.
Their belief system and the rituals organized by the Shamans hardly work these days to conjure up a spell of rain followed by a good harvest. Contact with the modern world bridged by tourism has made them realize health, education and a decent occupation which are more important.
Ethical aspect of tribal tourism:
Exploring a tribal community in an exotic location can be exciting but to what extent it is ethical? Many tragic encounters between tourists and tribes have been reported raising the obvious question. Ancient cultures, age old traditions and unique lifestyle of tribal groups are fascinating for travelers.
It is a natural to think interactions between tribes and modern community may have a two-way beneficial impact where both communities can pick up few lessons to improve their society. But there are certain inherent risks which often get overlooked.
Tourism activities may expose the tribes to harmful pathogens for which they do not have any immunity. This may potentially endanger the entire tribal community. Poorly implemented initiatives may cause a cultural setback for the tribes where they may have to shift from a state of independence to a state of dependence. Traditional customs become nothing more than a way of entertainment.
This has been observed with indigenous tribes coming in contact with tourism and the effects surely haven’t been entirely positive for them. It should be up to the tribes to decide whether they would invite interaction with outsiders or not.