Ethical Tour Operators Group – Promoting ethical tourism worldwide
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay
Our friends at Tourism Concern are doing some amazing things to improve the sustainable tourism industry. As part of their model, they have created the Ethical Tour Operators Group (ETOG), which brings together travel agencies and tour operators that are promoting ethical practices like ecotourism or socially responsible rural tourism. As a proud member of ETOG, we are thrilled to share the following post from Tourism Concern highlighting what the London-based charity and its ETOG are doing to ameliorate the face of modern travel:
Our Ethical Tour Operators Group was set up with the purpose of highlighting how tourism can be a force for good. This is achieved by collaborating with socially responsible tour operators, who are passionate about minimising negative impacts within the industry. It is formed by a group of small-to-medium size tour operators that strive to promote responsible and ethical tourism practices. At the moment, we have 26 members from all around the world.
ETOG members are encouraged to exchange ideas and explore new ways of promoting travel. They are committed to an overall ethos of ethical tourism and they work with Tourism Concern to develop new ways to improve their operations and ensure that local communities benefit from tourism. Just as importantly, they work with us by providing invaluable input and by helping us develop best practice guides and codes of conduct. We have created a package of activities designed to facilitate dialogue, providing essential information and skills to support operators in the challenge of running a socially responsible tourism business.
Fairer way to travel
Our long-term vision is to promote a fairer way to travel – one that respects local communities, culture and the environment. Tourism that is welcomed by local people. ETOG achieves this through the way in which we conduct business and especially on how we influence the supply chains to create long-term dividends to local people. Our responsibility lies in ensuring that our members’ relations with their suppliers and clients are beneficial, sustainable and equal. The group also campaigns on social or environmental issues relevant to the travel industry and its members.
For those who are not quite there yet but want to move towards ethical and responsible tourism, ETOG offers an opportunity to learn from other members and improve their practice and ethos about tourism. They can also get expert advice either from other members or from Tourism Concern. In order to become an Ethical Tour Operators Group member, applicants have to complete an application form. The application has two steps: first, they have to prove how they meet our criteria and are asked to provide examples on how they support the local communities, how the benefits are shared fairly and highlighting their approaches in order to protect the environment. Secondly, we ask them to confirm that they have the following policies: health and safety, equality, sustainability, child protection and ethical trekking.
We also ask applicants to demonstrate how they meet the following criteria. We will involve local NGOs and partners in countries where appropriate to help with initial assessments.
- To maintain and strengthen the quality of life in local communities, including social structures and access to resources, amenities and life support systems, avoiding any form of social degradation or exploitation.
- To engage and empower local communities in planning and decision making about the management and future development of tourism in their area, in consultation with other stakeholders.
- To respect and enhance the historic heritage, authentic culture, traditions, and distinctiveness of host communities.
Local Prosperity and Social Equity
- To maximize the contribution of tourism to the economic prosperity of the host destination, including the proportion of visitor spending that is retained locally.
- To seek a widespread and fair distribution of economic and social benefits from tourism throughout the recipient community, including improving opportunities, income, and services available to the poor.
- To strengthen the number and quality of local jobs created and supported by tourism, including the level of pay, conditions of service and availability to all without discrimination by gender, race, disability or in other ways.
- To maintain and enhance the quality of landscapes, both urban and rural, and avoid the physical and visual degradation of the environment.
- To support the conservation of natural areas, habitats, and wildlife, and minimize damage to them.
- Minimise use of scarce or non-renewable resources in the development of tourism facilities and to minimise pollution of air, water, land caused by the generation of waste by tourism enterprises and visitors.
- To provide a safe, satisfying and fulfilling experience for visitors, available to all without discrimination by gender, race, disability, or in other ways.
Throughout the applications, we are looking for how tour operators maintain and strengthen the quality of life in local communities, social structures and access to resources, amenities and life support systems, and avoid any form of social degradation or exploitation. Moreover, tour operators have to prove that they engage and empower local communities with planning and decision making in regards to the management and future development of tourism in their area, in consultation with other stakeholders. Furthermore, they have to provide examples of how they respect and enhance the historic heritage, authentic culture, traditions, and distinctiveness of host communities
ETOG members are also expected to give open and transparent information to their customers about how their visit benefits locals. They are expected to try to ensure that tourists respect local socio-cultural norms, the economic and environmental priorities of the destination community and to ensure tourists have information to make ethical choices while on holiday.
If you are planning to visit Latin America, you can browse our sustainable tourism destinations and use our platform to find a local tour operator you can trust. If you are visiting other parts of the world, you can check Tourism Concern’s Ethical Travel Guide, which covers the whole planet. Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our quarterly newsletter to make sure you never miss blog posts like this one in the future!
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