Being an ‘eco-friendly’
Being an ‘eco-friendly’ tour operator or travel agent
is simple. Reviewing your business to determine what makes you ‘green’
and why a potential ecotourist would travel with you to East Africa brings many
dividends such as reduced costs, wildlife conservation, cultural understanding
and more ecotourists.
Here are some guidelines to consider for a “green” travel agency
or tour operator.
-How much of your net profit is returned to the local community and wildlife
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.
-Do your partners pay the community for their land in either a lease agreement,
a per person fee agreement or a profit basis?
If not, why not? Try finding companies that do provide an income to local
peoples, or set up a project of your own in that area.
-How do you support local camps and villagers that provide the traveler
with local gifts?
Do you give your clients tips on what to purchase? Do you purchase local gifts
to give to your clients? Do the lodges and camps you use have a local handicraft
-What pre-departure environmental information do you provide the traveler?
Create pre-departure information that provides helpful hints on wildlife conservation
information and what natural products to buy or not buy when visiting East Africa.
-How do you reduce paper waste, power consumption and water consumption?
Set a policy and ensure your staff is aware of it. Perhaps you can create a
competition for the office that uses the least amount of paper or has the lowest
-How does your office protect the environment?
Consider such ideas as building water catching facilities, planting indigenous
trees or shrubs in the compound and installing solar panels.
-What articles has your company written on eco- travel for magazines, websites
Almost all ezines and websites look for free, original content for their readers.
It’s free publicity for you while educating travelers at the same time!
-How do you offer local, environmental insights for your travelers?
Do you give your clients the Kenya Wildlife Service Park Regulations, a great
guide to the ‘dos and don’ts’ of wildlife watching?
-How do you reduce vehicle pollution?
Do you share vehicles? Does your staff have a car pool system? Do you encourage
your clients to enjoy game walks instead of game drives where possible?
-How do you reduce environmental impact with your tours?
How do you ensure that your drivers don’t drive off the road in national
parks? 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.
-Is your staff trained to be eco-friendly?
Do you have an eco-policy briefing for new staff? If not, ask one of your staff
to mentor new staff on your company’s eco-policies.
-How involved are you in regional initiatives to conserve the environment?
Start looking for partners that will help you, help themselves and protect
the wilderness areas at the same time!
-What pre-departure cultural information do you provide the traveler?
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.
-How do you introduce the local culture to your travelers?
Do you work with the camps and lodges to create cultural talks and tours? Do
you allow the clients to spend time with the local tribes while traveling?
-How many of your company’s staff are local citizens?
Working with local citizens gives you the local information that you and your
Copyright Anne Loehr of www.eco-resorts.com