The number of excursions and tours on offer to holidaymakers is booming. With so many guides dispersed all around the world, ensuring that tours aren’t negatively impacting the environment, or the communities they visit, is a huge and growing challenge.
Equally, the fact that tours bring visitors into direct contact with local people means that there is often untapped potential for tours to bring significant local economic benefits.
Improving the impacts of tours has been a focus for our training programme over the past two years. This has included partnering with the Dutch and UK Travel Associations to train the many guides and tour managers linked to their members. As a result, our specially created online training course is providing guides all around the world with information, advice and examples based on our four principles of responsible guiding:
- Building relationships with communities and local businesses
- Minimising environmental impact
- Delivering meaningful, high quality experiences
- Committing to continuous learning
So far, over 730 guides have completed the training through ANVR, the Dutch travel association, alone. Over 78% of those who responded to our survey having completed the course have introduced new practices for environmental protection, improved existing ones, or intend to do so. Similar numbers, 76%, have taken action or committed to doing so, to increase the contribution of their tours to the local economy.
Many guides have reported reducing plastic and other waste, as well as improving communication with local businesses, or offering a new local element to the tour.
Having implemented recommendations from the training, Usman, a tour guide in Bali and Lombok told us:
“We gain much more trust. Tourists give us more respect. Local businesses work with us better and we are more comfortable and confident to do our job”
Sofian, a guide from Indonesia highlighted how everyone benefits from a more sustainable approach:
‘The benefit to local people is that they get the impact of tourism directly. Waste and environmental pollution is reduced. Wildlife is protected so that the next generation can be still enjoy it. Customers can learn about how to get involved in sustainable tourism. Guides have more knowledge. Plus, it will increase the credibility of the organization about their engagement in sustainable tourism.”