Green tourism and responsible travel are key concerns for AITO and its members. Each potential member's sustainable tourism credentials are examined before they may join, to ensure sustainability and that local cultures and the environment are treated with the utmost care and respect. AITO members recognise that the destinations where they provide holidays are the life blood of the industry and that they need to protect them with a responsible travel and sustainable tourism policy.
Bridge & Wickers' Sustainable Tourism Policy
As members of AITO, we recognise that we have a responsibility to respect other people's places and ways of life in our work as tour operators. We acknowledge that wherever a tour operator does business or sends clients, it has the potential to do both good and harm, and we are aware that all too often in the past the harm has outweighed the benefit.
All tourism potentially has an environmental, social and economic impact on the destination. As a tour operator, we recognise our obligation to aim to be responsible in all our dealings on each of these three levels. To help us to do so, we have proposed a set of guidelines intended to help companies, customers and local suppliers recognise their common responsibilities to:
- Protect the environment – its flora, fauna and landscapes
- Respect local cultures – traditions, religions and built heritage
- Benefit local communities – both economically and socially
- Conserve natural resources – from office to destination
- Minimise pollution – through noise, waste disposal and congestion
We are an association of individual, independent companies, each with our own distinctive style and field of operation. As such, we each have our own ways of fulfilling the details of these responsibilities by:
- Establishing our own policies and involving our staff
- Informing our clients about Sustainable Tourism and, where appropriate, encouraging them to participate
- Working with our suppliers and partners to achieve Sustainable goals and practices
- Publicising good practice to encourage and spread Sustainable Tourism
Tips for Travellers: How to Travel Responsibly
As AITO members, we are committed to the enjoyment of our beautiful but fragile planet, whilst keeping the environmental and cultural demands upon it as low as possible. Here are some simple but effective tips designed to help you support our objectives.
BEFORE YOU GO...
Global Warming - Our Carbon Balancing Service - TICOS & Reduce My Footprint
The Tourism Industry Carbon Offset Service (TICOS) is an industry wide programme to stimulate collective action by all tour operators and travel agents selling holidays which include air or other forms of travel. TICOS is both a carbon reduction programme and a carbon offset service. Revenue raised from the service funds projects across the globe where there is a real additional and measurable carbon saving and wider social benefit which favours the environment, wildlife, pro poor policies and community improvements.
TICOS was confirmed as the chosen carbon offset provider by AITO at the AITO Annual General Meeting in April 2007, and is currently working with a number of AITO members. TICOS is also supported by a number of national and international agencies including UNESCO and the IUCN World Commission for Protected Areas. If you would like to find out more about carbon offsetting or how to get involved with TICOS, please visit the website www.ticos.co.uk
Reduce My Footprint
AITO also supports the Reduce My Footprint (RMF) programme that helps you estimate your carbon footprint and take action to reduce it by funding carefully selected projects in destinations. TICOS is one of the key organisations selected to source and manage the RMF projects. For further information visit www.reducemyfootprint.travel
Language: hello, thank you & goodbye!
Know some lingo! Learning a few words of the local language is a great way to break barriers: greet shopkeepers, waiters, drivers, clerks, etc. It is equally important to say your thank-yous and goodbyes.
Local Customs: another time, another place
Religious customs and local traditions vary enormously around the world and play a large part in the local way of life. It is important to familiarise yourself with the local people’s dress codes and thought patterns, and recognise them; the local concept of time is also likely to be less hurried than your own. Remember – you are the visitor, and by showing respect you will be respected and appreciated yourself!
Keep your packaging down to a minimum and avoid disposable goods. Waste disposal facilities can be limited and recycling non-existent in many parts of the world. Eco-friendly soap gets our thumbs-up.
Gifts & Presents
You may make special friendships and experience generous hospitality when abroad. Gifts that are evocative of your home country such as postcards and photographs make ideal presents – check with your tour operator for any specific tips about the area you are visiting.
Souvenirs & Shopping
Avoid buying souvenirs that exploit wildlife or threaten endangered species. Buying local souvenirs helps the local economy; whilst it is often customary and even fun to haggle, stop once you have got a reasonable price: the low price you achieve may only be due to the desperation and poverty of others.
Wildlife and Animal Welfare
Avoid disturbing wildlife and damaging their natural habitats. Take care not to touch coral reefs and do not feed animals or fish. Stay quiet when viewing animals on safari.
Plants & Shells
One of the joys of travelling is the spectacular variety of wild plants and shells you will see. These should remain in their natural environment, so avoid picking any. It is also illegal to import some plant species.
Items from ancient civilisations may still be found or bought in countries such as Peru and Turkey. Although they may appear discarded or available to buy, leave them where you find them.
Don’t give out sweets or money, especially to children. Giving will only teach them that begging is rewarding and can undermine parental authority. It is far better to interact with children. Cat’s cradle, frisbees or simply exchanging drawings or photos can be more fulfilling and fun for both you and the children. Though begging is the sole source of income for many of the world’s poor you may wish to consider that giving money to charities can often offer more long term help to a far greater number of people.
To state the obvious, the world is full of it and you don’t want to add to it yourself! Beyond that, however, it’s up to you to decide how strongly you should feel about other people’s litter: many walkers, for example, are happy to pick up litter along the trail. It’s your call. Remember, however – many countries do not have adequate litter collection, never mind recycling or waste reduction schemes; so the less you create, the better. Where plastics are not recycled, you might consider taking a water bottle or filter and purifying your own water; this, of course, needs to be weighed against the fact that drink sales can play a vital part of the local economy.
Photos: think before you click
People in colourful local dress always make good subjects for photographs, but think before you snap. Many people, for whatever reason, do not like being photographed. Always ask permission before taking photographs.
Water: pollution & usage
If it is necessary to wash in streams or rivers, do not use detergents or other chemicals. There are a number of eco-friendly soaps available for travellers. Remember, it may be someone’s drinking water further downstream. Use water sparingly.
ONCE BACK HOME....
You may have come across charitable projects or organisations or been affected by humanitarian or conservation concerns on your holiday. Many tour operators support a wide variety of charitable initiatives or will be able to advise where you can direct your support to ‘put something back’ into the destinations visited.
If you have particular comments – positive or negative - about responsible tourism issues on your tour, let us know! We are continually striving to improve and your comments are vital in helping us ensure we act on the issues and operate in a responsible fashion.