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Luxury Travel

Share a Meal

Geert Kroos, set up ResiRest, a Dutch social enterprise, to connect local home cooks with travellers who want a taste of their culture. Here, he explains how it all works.

This is a feature from Issue 17 of Charitable Traveller.

ResiRest provides the opportunity for travellers to share a meal together at the table of a local family. It works as a facilitator between all those local families and communities in the world who want to share their culture, with the travel organisations that supply their customers with that true local culture.

What is ResiRest?

ResiRest is my dream of travel being a force for good for local families and their communities, turned into reality. We provide international travellers with the chance to sit down for a meal at the table of a local family via our network of global travel partners. Woth out platform, we support local families and their communities, and we’re proud to say ResiRest is the only travel organisation in the world with full-member accreditation of the World Fair Trade Organisation.

Where did the idea come from?

I was travelling in Senegal for several months in 2015, when I realised that I’d connected approximately 30 parties (backpackers, families, couples etc) with local families I’d met, and organised the chance for them to share a meal. By doing so, I was often asked a lot of questions, including, ‘How do you do that?’ ‘How much do I have to pay?’ ‘Is the food okay?’ ‘Is the water okay?’ ‘Isn’t it dangerous’ ‘What can I eat and what should I avoid?’
From that came a plan to start a business directly impacting local families that otherwise would not be seen and experienced by travellers. It’s important to understand that a lot of locals see travellers, yet it’s quite impossible for them to connect.
On the other hand, travellers can sometimes be seen simply as ‘wallets’ or the food can be bad. So, having plenty of families to share a meal with, knowing that all these families are checked on general safety and food safety, and that the prices are fair trafe is what ResiRest is all about.

What is your impact?

We create chances and opportunities for local families, who ate beautiful as they are, to share their culture and cuisine with travellers who want to step out of their travel bubble. In so doing, we help create self-reliance for local families which has a big impact on their self-esteem. This in turn helps restore pride, and when you’re proud of what you’re doing, you don’t need to change and that ensures authenticity, which makes the quests of local families so enthusiastic. We see travellers adapting to the local families, and you know what? They love it!

And how do you have that impact?

We always work on a demand-supply basis, as it’s the only logical way to work with the communities. At ResiRest, we say. ‘Local families do not work for ResiRest; ResiRest works for the local families.’ Same words, but completely different sentences and outcomes. It ensures a certain monthly income for families while making sure there aren’t too many bookings, as this can create a loss of authenticity and too much dependency on tourism.

What would you like to see change?

We’d like to see some changes to how travel businesses work with DMOs and DMCs (destination management organisations and companies). They’re large commercial tourism machines and aren’t equipped to make small experiences a success.

Can you give an example of how you've helped a community?

We work for a lot of local families in Cambodia, in the rural area just outside Krong Siem Reap. These families were ignored within their communities but now that they welcome travellers, they’re seen as respected community members. We’ve also helped some people work fewer hours with extra income to they can be around for their young children.

What is your biggest challenge

Surviving the pandemic, but we got through it and are now ready to receive more bookings for the local families we work for in almost 50 countries around the world.

What's next for REsiRest?

Next is ‘A Change of Scenery’, local experiences that aren’t food-focused, but instead allow travellers to enjoy the local culture in many different ways. We’ve created the support system so the whole thing is safe, fair trade, and easily bookable.

The Joy of Eating Together
Find out more about ResiRest and how it connects travellers and locals through food experiences at resirest.com

This is a feature from Issue 17 of Charitable Traveller.