Why you should ALWAYS travel with a responsible tour operator

Should I travel with a Responsible Tour Operator? The only answer is yes!

How often as a traveller do you consider your impact on the destination you are visiting? Do you think about the amount of water and energy you use? Do you consider the waste you create and whether it is disposed of properly? How about the activities and adventures you enjoy, do you consider their impact on the environment you’re visiting or the people that call that destination home?

As tourists, every decision we make has an impact; sometimes good, sometimes bad. The accommodation we stay in, the transport we take, the facilities we use, where we shop, eat and visit, all of these decisions have consequences and sometimes it seems too complex to factor all of this in, after all, you are supposed to be on holidays. This is where a responsible tour operator can help.

What is the difference between sustainable and responsible tourism? 

Unlike sustainable tourism, which is primarily focused on minimising the negative social, environmental and economic impacts of tourism, responsible tourism goes a step further to also focus on creating opportunities for tourism and tourists to make positive impacts on the destinations they visit. Responsible tourism both enhances your travel experience and maximises the benefit tourism has on the local community, economy and environment. It’s a win, win! 

How is a responsible tour operator different to an ordinary tour provider? 

A regular tour operator advertises standard tourist activities and bucket list adventures. They can sell you a wild open-top safari with camping under the stars or a trek up Mt Kilimanjaro. These experiences by themselves are usually fantastic and ensure you return home with great pictures and amazing stories. The issue is that these experiences are all about the tourist.

In addition to doing everything a regular operator does to ensure you have an unforgettable experience, a responsible tour operator will also ensure your holiday benefits the local community, economy and environment. They do this by creating local jobs, investing in local businesses, supporting community initiatives and ensuring a high percentage of your adventure fee is spent in the destinations you visit.

An example is the cruise industry. Each year, thousands of people cruise around the world and nearly all of them have an amazing time. Many cruise companies also claim to be sustainable operators because they reduce electricity usage, waste or petrol, etc. The big issue is that nearly all of the activities, food, entertainment and accommodation is booked and paid for through the cruise company. This means that whilst you stop over for a day in a developing country, like Vanuatu, next to none of your money stays in that country to help the local community. This is particularly a problem because it is usually the local community who have to deal with the thousands of tourists who now flock to their pristine, and once private, beach.

A responsible tour operator, on the other hand is invested in making positive changes in the communities they visit. For example, Adventure Out Loud:

  1. Donate 50% of our profits to supporting local initiatives and charities who are empowering the communities we travel to.
  2. Ensure that at least 50% of your adventure fee is spent in the country you visit to support local businesses and jobs.
  3. Create opportunities for you to make a positive impact by personally sponsoring disadvantaged children through school. As part of your adventure, we also take you to meet the charity and student you are empowering so you can see where you money is going.  

In addition to enhancing your travel experience, a responsible operator, like Adventure Out Loud, always aims to do the right thing. By travelling with a responsible operator, you won’t just ensure you have an unforgettable travel experience, you will also ensure you are doing good at the same time. 

Next time you are planning an adventure, spend a little extra time researching the company you are buying from instead of simply picking the cheapest option. Afterall, do you want the most amazing, unforgettable adventure possible, an adventure where you immerse in the community you visit and make a positive impact in the lives of the people you meet, or do you want the cheapest option?

About the author

University of Queensland student studying International Hotel and Tourism Management. Enjoys travelling, sport and music. Always looking for my next adventure.

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