TOUR LEADER OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES
All tourism potentially has an environmental, social and economic impact on the destination involved. We accept, as a tour operator, we should aim to be responsible in all our dealings on each of these three levels. To help reduce this impact we have proposed a set of guidelines intended to help companies, clients and local suppliers recognize their common responsibilities to:
> Protect the environment - its flora, fauna and landscapes
> Respect local cultures - traditions, religions, and built heritage
> Benefit local communities - both economically and socially
> Conserve natural resources - from office to destination
> Minimize pollution - through noise, waste disposal and congestion
There are many ways we, as a company, can accomplish these goals; some by the nature of the way we travel and some with effort on both the part of our tour leaders and our passengers.
Our Style Of Travel
Travelling as a small group goes a long way to reducing the negative environmental and social impact of travel. Individuals in smaller groups tend to act more responsibly, and so have considerably less impact than larger groups. Also, a group of thirteen or less campers requires less space for activities that a group of forty or fifty, and helps to minimize each group's impact on the environment, other groups of people and helps minimize disruptive impacts on the animals living in and around the camp setting.
Staying in locally owned accommodation is also beneficial. Avoiding internationally owned hotels allows the money generated by our stay to benefit the local community directly. Camping, on the whole, is less harmful to the environment than staying in hotels. Staying in national, state, or provincial park campgrounds, which are generally designed according to the "Leave No Trace" guidelines discussed below, is yet another step in minimizing the negative impact on the environment.
Contact with local people is one of the best ways of creating understanding and tolerance between cultures, and tour leaders should advise clients about the many "dos and don'ts". Employing local people wherever we can not only gives passengers a further chance to interact with inhabitants of the host country, but again puts money directly into local hands. Sure, you can drive the Monument Valley loop yourself, but hiring a Navajo guide both gives passengers an opportunity to interact with the Navajo on a personal level and puts money back into the local community.
Our tour leaders inform passengers on ways to protect the environment and to reduce waste and issues such as energy and water conservation, environmental degradation, reduced use of plastic bottles, disposing of litter and recycling. Special measures should also be taken to protect the natural environment when hiking or visiting sensitive or fragile ecosystems.
Because we spend so much time in National Parks the "Leave No Trace" code of ethics endorsed by the National Park System is an excellent guideline.
"Leave No Trace" is a national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations.
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare > Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit
> Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies
> Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use
> Visit in small groups
> Repackage food to minimize waste
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces > Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow
> Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams
> Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
> In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent
> In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning
3. Dispose of Waste Properly > Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods
> To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and, where possible, use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater
4. Leave What You Find > Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts
> Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them
> Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species
> Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts > Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a stove for cooking and lantern for light
> Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans or mound fires.
> Keep fires small
> Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely
6. Respect Wildlife > Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them
> Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors and exposes them to predators and other dangers
> Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely
> Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young or winter
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors > Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience
> Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail
> Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock
> Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors
> Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises
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