Changing The World -
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KENYA - TANZANIA
Unearth the facts about ecotourism!
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Being Green keeps you out of the Red
By Anne Loehr
"Green". What exactly is it? Apart from a colour, it is also a
common expression which means 'taking care of the environment or 'being eco-friendly'.
Travel agents and tour operators can review their business to
determine what makes them 'green' and why a potential ecotourist would travel
with them. Doing this brings many dividends in terms of reduced costs, wildlife
conservation and cultural understanding. It's a win-win situation for everyone!
Here are some guidelines to consider for a "green" travel agency
or tour operator.
- Choose a project that interests your company, such as rhino conservation or
village water supplies, and set yourself a goal. Create the timeline with your
staff and then inform your clients of your goal. Update everyone involved on your
progress throughout the year. This way, part of the company net profit is returned
to the local community and wildlife projects.
- Partner with credible companies/lodges which pay the community for their land
in either a lease agreement, a per person fee agreement, entry fees, a percentage
of profit basis and/or use local suppliers. This way you contribute to empowering
communities by providing them with an income.
- Give your clients tips on what to purchase; where applicable, purchase local
gifts to give your clients. This way you contribute to sustenance of culture and
extend support to local handicraft shops in camps and lodges.
- Create a pre-departure information pack that provides helpful hints to clients
on wildlife conservation initiatives and environmental issues on the areas to
be visited. Emphasize what natural products to buy or not buy when visiting East
- Set policies on waste, energy and water and ensure your staff are aware of
it. Perhaps you can create a competition for the office to use the least amount
of paper or change your purchasing policy to minimize solid waste generation.
- Consider such ideas as building water catching pipes, planting indigenous
trees or shrubs in the compound and installing solar panels.
- Contribute to debates and discussions on 'green' tourism by sharing your knowledge
and experience through articles in newsletters, magazines, e-zines, e-groups and
websites. It's free publicity for you while educating travelers at the same time.
- Offer your clients insights into local conservation issues for travelers by
educating them on the 'dos and don'ts' of wildlife watching. A good example is
the KWS park regulations.
- Share vehicles when convenient to reduce pollution; introduce a car pool system
for your staff. Encourage your clients to enjoy game walks instead of game drives
- Ensure that your drivers don't drive off the road in national parks to reduce
the environmental impacts of your tours. Explain to your clients the potential
damage of off-road driving and ask them to help protect the parks by not asking
the driver to do so. Employ qualified drivers; better still employ KPSGA certified
- Your staff should be well versed with your eco-policy. Select one of your
staff to mentor your company's eco-policies and ensure all new staff are appropriately
briefed on these policies.
- Start looking for partners that will help you, help themselves and protect
the wilderness areas at the same time!
- Create pre-departure information that provides helpful hints on how to visit
local cultures. Give background information on cultural 'dos and don'ts' for each
area your client is visiting.
- Work with camps and lodges to create cultural talks and tours as part of the
itinerary. Allow clients to spend time with the local tribes while traveling.
- Working with local citizens gives you the local information that you and your
clients need. Employ local citizens!