It won’t be a doubt to say that travel companies and anyone remotely connected lost a lot during the pandemic. 2020 was dull for travel industry but 2021 has come with a hope. And as travel rules continue to ease, it is evident that some operators would do anything to promote their company, even if it means compromising ethics and destroying the essence of the locals. But you can always be responsible and avoid an unethical company.
Finding a travel company that shares your personal ethical values removes traveller’s guilt that many suffer with. It also gives you a chance to contribute instead of exploiting the region where you are traveling.
Here are a few tips to choose a responsible travel company:
Research if their operators and guides are locals or not
A responsible travel company is committed to training and preparing locals to learn different techniques of travel. Something like this gives these individuals a chance to make a living out of the emerging opportunities in travel industries. Travel companies like Kipepeo India, Rocky Feet, and Curtain Call Adventures operate with locals and train them in said skills. The involvement of locals improves your travel experience and help you understand local culture better.
Learn about their efforts on minimising their carbon offsetting
Traveling has a profound impact on the region that you are visiting. A travel company that manages tours in this region all around the year will change carbon footprint in drastic ways. A responsible travel company would promote slow travel, trekking, hiking and walking tours to reduce this impact. Apart from this, many companies also play an important role in training locals on responsible waste management, handling forest fires and stubble burning. Solar power is another solution that multiple responsible travel companies have adopted and eliminates the need for carbon based electricity solutions.
Animal welfare efforts
Wildlife tourism is a popular activity but it harms the animals more than helping them out. It is important to research about animal welfare policies. Such efforts will spot exploitation of the wildlife without ruining the experience of the tourists. In my knowledge, there is no company in India that actually has an animal welfare policy so the list will be updated as and when we find one. Personally, you should always avoid companies that promote physical interaction with wild animals. Elephant rides, marmot feeding, etc., are indicative that the company is using animals as a lucrative source of entertainment.
Alternate livelihood training options
A pandemic like situation in future will stop travel industry one more time. The scenario will effect locals the most because they will not have any other skill but tourism. There are multiple travel companies that are teaching alternate livelihood skill. These skills include handicrafts, organic farming, dairy production, etc. When tourism season is down or is stopped, these skill will come in handy for the locals.
Awards and certifications matter
Last but not the least, you should always see that kind of media coverage they have received. There are awards and certifications will tell you about the authenticity of their claims. India Responsible Travel Awards recognizes such efforts on yearly basis and makes it easy for travellers to choose a company that encourages ethical travel.
Daily Passenger Responsible Travel podcast has featured travel companies with ethical and responsible models. Every episode covers an expert from travel industry who shares their thoughts on a certain topic. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast.