It is important to choose your trip wisely so that you minimize the negative impacts of your travel while maximizing the positive. Begin your research by looking at websites that make it easy to find green trips, such as ours, www.detourdestinations.com. Detour lists attributes of each travel company selling on our site, with answers to all of the questions below.
Look for websites specializing in responsible travel, ecotourism or sustainable tourism, such as the Rainforest Alliance’s Eco Index of Sustainable Tourism http://eco-indextourism.org/en/home. The Eco-Index Sustainable Tourism features businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean that have been deemed environmentally and socially friendly by reputable environmental organizations and/or ecotourism certification programs. The goal of this site is to help responsible travelers and tour agencies choose destinations that are not only beautiful, but also benefit the communities, flora and fauna they will be visiting.
▪ Use a site like detourdestinations.com that provides answers for the following questions or contact tour operators and hotels and let them know that you are a responsible consumer. Here are eleven questions to ask before you book:
▪ What is your environmental policy? This question is important because if a company doesn’t have an official policy, they probably aren’t actually doing anything positive environmentally.
▪ Where is your company headquarters? Company headquarters are where the money goes. If you take a trip in Peru but the company is based in San Francisco, USA, a good portion of the money you pay for the trip won’t make it into Peru where it can have an impact on local people’s lives. Money spent in a community can have a great impact on changing people’s attitudes towards protecting natural and cultural resources.
▪ What percentage of your employees are local citizens? Again, if local people are employed, your trip benefits the local economy and can lead to preservation of culture and natural resources.
▪ Do you support any projects to benefit the local community?
▪ Do you support conservation? How?
▪ Is your business green certified? Not all countries have certification programs, and certification quality varies, but whenever possible choose green certifiied local companies. They have taken measurable steps to change their business to make them more sustainable.
▪ Have you won any eco-awards?
▪ Are you recommended by any reputable NGOs or conservation groups?
▪ What sorts of policies have you implemented to reduce water consumption, conserve energy or recycle wastes? Again, if they don’t have policies, they probably aren’t doing much.
▪ How do you educate visitors about local natural areas, wildlife, energy conservation, and local culture?
▪ How do you monitor these practices?
If the answers to these trips are satisfactory, you’ve found yourself a sustainable trip. Enjoy!