Tourism as business is never based on putting the other in equal footing. This would be just bad business.
When strangers meet there are various behaviours employed to change their standings in such a way that collabing is easier. Those things just don’t happen with a tourist. He’s got his own role to play, he is not part of life, he is not here to collab. He is there to use the “destination”, he’s trying to “have an experience” that would change his life back home but he couldn’t care less about the place he travels to.
None of this is bad, actually, but what kind of equal footing can you find with this guy?
The thing is: not only a tourist has lots less information than a local, for him the information has a different status. It is not “stuff I need to know to live decently”, it is “stories I will tell my grandchildren”.
If anyone out there is looking for a business idea, let me tell you what i think is the only way to make tourism a deal with equal information. Actually i am borrowing from Paulo Coelho (wisdom can indeed come from strange paths).
You need to produce the logistics to allow one tourist to work as guide to other tourists. Either every client has to make two trips (the first one to learn about the place, as the tourist, and the next one as the guide), or you could have a network of agents-clients.
The idea is that the “guide” guy is not only a tourist, but in a certain sense he is receiving a friend at his place.
My guess is that this kind of thing would only work with large trips, at least 20 days or so. Also, probably it would be prudent to work with groups instead of couples to avoid grudges…
One way or the other, courses prior to everything would be of the utmost importance. We’re dealing with people, after all.
Probably the firm should have like homes in each of the many destinations, and maybe also some more structure like net connection and a car.
Every new place would have to be “explored” by someone, and I am guessing it would be like a dream-job…
If this all sounds easy, and i don’t even think it does, there is a lot that could go wrong. But if anyone manages to do that, he might as well be creating a whole new tourism!