Research is an important aspect of traveling responsibly. If you’re going to support a travel company, whether it’s a hotel or tour operator, you should ideally research them before choosing them. We have created the following list of 4 questions to help guide your research. If it is difficult to find the answers, if the answers are ambiguous or if you don’t like the answers, you might want to reconsider choosing that particular organization.
1. Are they locally owned?
It is, of course, possible for an organization to be run responsibly and not be locally owned (it can also be locally owned and irresponsibly run), but it is a good clue to start off your research. Who is the owner and why are they there?
2. Do they employ locals?
Tourism is a great source of local employment and tourist organisations should always employ local residents whenever possible. If they aren’t qualified, then they should train them.
3. Do they reinvest in the community or support the community in any way? How?
This may seem like a lot to ask, but it shouldn’t be. An organisation that you want to be involved with should care about their community and surroundings. This should be easily demonstrated by activities such as community programs.
4. What impact do they have on their environment? This could be environmental impact for hotels and level of sensitivity for tours.
Increasingly, companies of all sizes are starting to proudly show off their green credentials. While this is a positive development, be careful not to get fooled by “green washing.” “Green” and all of its synonyms have become such a popular buzzword that even big companies are joining in, but more often than not, just at the surface level. Dig deeper and see how committed they really are. Verification by a reputable 3rd party is a good indicator (whether it’s in the form of an award or certification).
Tourism should make destinations a better place to live. To make that a reality we need to support organizations that embody that goal.