Eco-Resorts: Changing the World - One Journey at a Time.
Changing The World -
One Journey At A Time

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Elephants in the Masai Mara

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.

Economic guidelines:

  • 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.

Environmental guidelines

  • 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 Africa.

  • 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 where possible.

  • 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 drivers.

  • 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!

Social responsibility:

  • 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!

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