There has been much debate on the subject of Responsible Tourism and whilst our overriding objective is to provide the very best holidays for our customers, we also aim to turn the rhetoric of ecotourism into reality through the relationships we build with our partners in our destinations and the way we do business. We know that people will have much more enjoyable and authentic travel experiences when they are genuinely welcomed by their hosts.
Our Code of Practice
Rainbow Tours seeks to:
Locate partners with whom we can work to promote community tourism
In the majority of cases our overseas partners are very active in supporting community tourism. The most common successful model is when an established operator works with a local community to build a lodge on their land, and there is some community input into management of the project and a degree of profit-sharing. Creation of jobs is also an important part of this. We include community-run accommodation options on our website where ever we can, and our ultimate aim to have somewhere to offer in all the regions we feature.
Support tourism businesses and projects owned and/or operated by local people who have had little access to economic opportunity
In both Africa and Latin America there are a growing number of lodges which are wholly owned and largely managed by the local community, for example Buffalo Ridge Safari Camp (South Africa) and Napo Wildlife Centre, Kapawi Lodge and Huaorani Ecolodge in Ecuador's Amazon. Then there are small entrepreneurs who operate tourism business, such as Faizal Gangat and Cape Capers in Cape Town. Some that we have worked with for a number of years have become well established.
We support these initiatives in a number of ways: with advice on how to best reach the international market; using our own contacts in the UK to obtain coverage for them in newspapers and magazines, by helping to train their staff, and, most importantly, by sending clients.
Ensure that the service providers we use have good employee relations and support, and respond to the concerns of the wider community in which they are based
We support the Fair Trade in Tourism certification which has been introduced in South Africa. Some of the small owner-run establishments we have supported for many years, such as Hog Hollow Country Lodge, now have this certification as have larger favourites like Cape Grace in Cape Town and Tswalu in the Northern Cape. To achieve, this, properties have to show a very high level of commitment, especially to the local community, and we are very proud that they have obtained this status.
We also work closely with larger organisations such as Wilderness Safaris, & Beyond and Condor Travel in Peru which have very professional and wide-ranging community development programmes.
Promote less well-known tourist destinations which would benefit from a larger share of the tourism cake
For more than a decade we have been promoting areas such as the Eastern Cape and Maputaland in South Africa which are only today becoming established destinations; we took on Madagascar when it was unfashionable, in fact, almost unheard of, and have built up a sizable traffic there through extensive media coverage; we have been doing the same over the last five years with Rwanda, and in both countries we offer the most comprehensive programme.
Use locally-owned accommodation in guest house, bed and breakfast establishments and small independent hotels, rather than multinational hotel chains
We like to recommend locally-owned hotels, lodges and guest houses, always favouring those that are owner-managed, and have built up good relations with many of these owners. In some countries, such as Mauritius, and the Seychelles, this policy is not relevant, and we do not exclude properties or groups on the grounds that they are not locally owned, where they are clearly making a positive difference on a local level.
Inform our clients on how their behaviour abroad can best contribute to the local community
We have worked with The Travel Foundation to produce an excellent Insider Guide entitled ‘Make A Difference When You Travel’. We give this to every one of our clients in their document packs.
Keep group sizes small to minimise the distress to the environment and to residents
None of our scheduled tour groups have more than 12 people. Special groups rarely go above this, but on rare occasions there may be up to 20 people.
Support initiatives which seek to contribute to biodiversity.
We aim to create and reinforce a desire to see habitats and wildlife in their natural state, and support projects where the focus is on restoring the natural habitat; we flag up places where biodiversity is not being respected.
Minimise the negative impact of our business upon the environment.
We do this by using sustainable and fair trade office supplies, recycling what we can, and being energy conscious. Please also see our policy on air travel in relation to climate change.
Although we have personally checked all the properties we use, things change and we do not always see the whole picture. We rely upon reports from our clients and value your comments about how far you feel this code of practice is being implemented on the ground. Let us know what you think.