'People First Tourism' Helps Wandering Travelers And Small Businesses

Dec 28, 2015

Chris Smith at his family farm in Benson, NC.
Credit People First Tourism

A new tourism venture aims to help travelers wander off the “beaten path” and help small entrepreneurs at the same time.

It’s called “People First Tourism.”  Duarte Morais is an Associate Professor of Equitable and Sustainable Tourism at NC State.  He is also the CEO of "People First Tourism."  He says money can be made by providing authentic experiences for visitors.

“For tourism to really benefit local communities there should be a lot of locals involved in tourism as small business owners," said Morais.

Some of the small business owners working with "People First Tourism" are farmers, potters and even storytellers.

“In North Carolina we are working with approximately 150 micro-entrepreneurs," said Morais. " All the way from Jackson County in the western mountains to the Outer Banks, on the coast, in the east.”

Morais says, to find the right tourism businesses, they seek out community champions across the state to identify small entrepreneurs who are ready to welcome visitors.  Private tours begin at $50 and include everything from farm tours to Raleigh’s music scene.

Morais says “People First Tourism” is already going global, with projects in South Africa and Brazil.