What about costs?
A very important point are, unfortunately the costs! As biketour's aim is not to gain money, we do everything to keep the costs as less as possible. They are mainly the food (bought and cooked daily by the participants) , the hosting for sleepingplaces (some times it will be for free) and other logistical expenses. One of biketour's principal idea is equality, so we try that all participants pay the same compared to their income. To assure that, we work with so called eco-rates. Usually there is a 15 eco per day per person fee for participants. That's roughly 8 Euros a day (2006) for westerners, and 4 Euro a day for participants from EE or CE countries.
The participation fee pays for 2-3 meals a day, accommodation, events along the route, and possibly some visa/travel reimbursement.
From 2006 that we start using the method of paying to a "magic hat" the reference value set by the eco-rates table. In this way we try to make less strict some values that, even if they try to be more fare, it's only a single number based on only the participants country. This "magic hat" is supposed to pass around daily in the circles, and if we have more than enough money then we are all happy with our radiant future!... if not, then we will ask for more generosity or we'll cut even more on the luxurious items and expenses ;)
The aim of the Ecorate system is to enable EYFA and those organizations which share the concern of economic inequalities between countries, to use a fair exchange rate. It is an alternative 'currency' based on the actual cost of living in each country.
The Ecorate system is necessary to create alternative frameworks for our economic relations (paying participation fees, subscription prices...) that break the profit guided and socially careless dynamics. Differences in the prices levels, exchange currency rates, purchasing power... might financially discourage or even impede groups and individuals from some countries from participating in gatherings and seminars or from subscribing to magazines. We should empower ourselves through creating mechanisms to include social concerns in our ways of functioning.
Ecorate system is a fully grassroots and participatory system. The fact that we research to have our own rates rather than using official institutional ones is one of the most important characteristics of the system. We make a survey among activist to collect information about the cost of life in each country [see questionnaire] through looking at the prices of different basic products, which is subsequently used to calculate the Ecorates and the value of the eco for each country.
The system contains two tools:
* The Eco is an alternative EYFA 'currency'. Its monetary value depends on the country of residence of each person, on the theoretical purchasing power of the person. The value of this international currency takes thus into account people - it has a social dimension. * The Ecorate is an indication of what the cost of living in each country is compared to that of Germany (currently used as the reference country). We assume that the cost of living in one country is directly related to the purchasing power of their inhabitants - for example if the cost of living in Germany is four times greater than that of Albania, the purchasing power of an Albanian person will be four times smaller than that of a German person.