product: travel services
intro: according to the World Tourism Organization, “sustainable tourism development meets the needs of the present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing the opportunity for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled, while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems”. Sustainability, for tourism as for other industries, calls for optimum use of resources, including biological diversity; minimisation of ecological, cultural and social impacts and maximisation of benefits to conservation and local communities.
Since their inaugural trip to the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan in 1974, Exodus has become the leading adventure travel company in the UK. Today if offers a selection of over 300 tours, and covers some 80 countries worldwide. Among other activities, Exodus offers also cycling holidays that come in all shapes and sizes, from gentle cycling in the Dordogne, to traversing the Kathmandu Valley in the shadow of the mighty Himalayas… In 2000, Exodus developed a Responsible Tourism Policy, which formalises the company’s commitment to develop socially, economically and ecologically sound trips in which:
other experiences: responsible tour operators have been growing in several countries:
- local communities play a fair role in the operations and obtain a fair share of the benefits;
- destinations receive long-term investments and commitments from the company, thus providing economic stability to both;
- the company contributes to conserving the natural resources on which this type of tourism depends.
- to ensure that existing and new trips maximise benefits to local communities and the environment, Exodus’ policy includes: hiring local guides to provide better interpretative experiences and support to the local communities; and purchasing of local products and services where appropriate. Finally, Exodus implements its policy by contributing directly to conservation and development projects.
- in France, Croq’Nature has been organising ‘alternative trekking travels’ formulas since 1985, expanding to the Sahara and northern Africa in 1994. Inspired by the ‘fair tourism’ chart principles, they devote 6% of travel fees to finance local development projects for Saharan nomad populations. [www.croqnature.com]
- Fair Trade Tourism in South Africa is an independent initiative of IUCN (the World Conservation Union) that works toward equitable and sustainable tourism growth and development in South Africa. They do this by promoting the concept of fair trade in tourism, and by creatively and energetically marketing fair and responsible tourism businesses through the ‘Fair Trade in Tourism’ trademark. Options include trips to game parks lodges, adventure tours and guesthouses. [www.fairtourismsa.org.za]
- Costa Rican Rural Tourism offers lodging with families in Acosta. This network is the result of the combined effort of 125 families in Acosta, who offer you a new alternative in rural tourism in Costa Rica. Spanish language programs, horseback riding, hiking, cloud forests, agro-tourism, and volunteer opportunities to support sustainable activities are offered. [www.costaricanruraltourism.org]
These are only few examples of tour operators offering responsible travels packages: a way to satisfy your adventure hunger without compromising the social and environmental equilibrium of the places you’re visiting... Look on the Net for other similar proposals and… have a nice trip!