Responsible tourism is a term used to express the idea that travel should aim to have a positive impact on the environment and cultures of the countries that tourists visit. These principles can be relevant to any type of holiday whether it’s a safari, a beach holiday or an iconic journey by road or train.
Tourism can be a powerful tool for economic and social development; it's a labour-intensive industry, which can bring benefits to cash-starved communities through job creation and small business opportunities. But at the same time, it is important to support community empowerment so that the community and local heritage is not destroyed by the changes that tourism inevitably brings. To be successful, community up-liftment must be controlled by the community itself.
Caring about the environment goes hand-in-hand with community development as it's impossible to conserve the environment without sustainable rural development. If people aren’t able to make a living this puts great pressure on the local habitats and eco-systems, as they may be forced to exhaust local resources in order to survive.
Much has been written and said on the subject of Responsible Tourism and our policies and practices are continuing to evolve.
Help us to use your left-over currency effectively
We encourage all our customers to give us their left over currency which we can then funnel back into local charities. In Latin America we do this through the LATA Foundation that currently has 13 projects across the region. In Madagascar we have worked with the Madagascar Development Fund, and together with out customers’ Malagasy Ariary, and our commitment to match funds raised, the Anjoma Ramartina State Primary school was able to buy desks for the children and tables for the teachers and the Ambohibao Primary School was able to renovate a whole classroom building.
"I am writing to let you know that we used the Ariary that Rainbow and its clients donated to buy 7 three-seater school desks/benches (for the children) and two tables (for the teachers) at Anjoma Ramartina State Primary school - about a 3 hour drive west of Antsirabe. The attached photographs show just how much happiness Rainbow Tours and its clients have given to these young children, whose 'desks' were previously two bricks and a plank, of wood - carried several kms each day to school in their backpacks! Thank you once again for your generous support for what MDF is doing to help poor communities in Madagascar."
Madagascar Development Fund
What you can do
Knowing that you are welcomed by local people will enrich any holiday, and there is much you can do yourself to be a responsible traveller. Here are some common-sense guidelines:
- Eat out locally as much as possible
- Try the local drinks rather than imported ones – some local beer for example can be delicious
- Use local guides or porters wherever possible. You will be helping them financially, and they will often provide you with invaluable insights (always take the advice of your hotel or lodge when planning local excursions)
- Plan ahead and give small tips wherever you can as this money goes directly to local people
- Buy locally made souvenirs and crafts
- Don’t haggle beyond what is reasonable – try to pay a fair price for goods, one where all parties are happy
- Learn a little of the local language and customs
- Remember that it may not always be appropriate to take pictures of people or certain cultural situations
- Avoid giving money or gifts directly to children – we can help you donate to a local facility or organisation which can bring long term benefit to the community
- Visit national parks and local reserves – your entrance fees will contribute to the success of the projects and the survival of the habitat and the wildlife that relies on it
- Be water aware - take a shower rather than a bath, opt into towel and sheet reuse schemes, don't leave the tap running whilst you clean your teeth and report dripping taps.
We highly value your feedback
Please do get in touch on your return. We highly value our customers' comments and insights - good or bad! - and see our responsible tourism policy as something that should be constantly discussed and reviewed.