Tourism Can Be a Force For Good – Our Ethical Tour Operators Group

Our Ethical Tour Operators Group (ETOG) 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 improve their Ethical and Responsible Tourism practices. At the moment, we have 26 members from all around the world. To find out more about the members, please follow the link: https://www.tourismconcern.org.uk/ethical-tour-operators-group/.

Tourism Concern Ethical Tour Operator Group members are encouraged to exchange ideas, explore and promote best practice. They are committed to 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 important they work with us, providing invaluable input, to help us develop best practice guides and code of conducts. We have created a package of activities designed to facilitate dialogue, provide essential information and skills to support operators in the challenge of running a socially responsible tourism business.

Our long-term vision is to promote a fairer way to travel – one that respects local communities, culture and the environment and holidays that are welcomed by local people.  ETOG achieves this through the way in which they conduct business and especially on how they influence their supply chains to create long-term dividends to local people. Our responsibility lies in ensuring that their 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 the 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.

Our Criteria to Become a Member

In order to become an Ethical Tour Operators Group member, applicants have to complete an application form. The application has two steps, where first of all, applicants 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. We also ask them to confirm that they have policies Health and Safety; Equality Policy; Sustainability Policy; Child Protection Policy and an Ethical Trekking Policy. Moreover, they also have to meet All Health and Safety Requirements, have an Equality Policy, Sustainability Policy, Child Protection Policy, Ethical Trekking Policy.

We also ask applications demonstrate how they meet each of the following criteria. We will involve local NGOs and partners in a country where appropriate to help with initial and ongoing assessments.

Community Well-being

  • 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.

Environmental Protection

  • 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.

Visitor Fulfilment

  • 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 at in detailed, for example how tour operators maintain and strengthen the quality of life in local communities, social structures and access to resources, amenities and life support systems, avoiding any form of social degradation or exploitation. Moreover, tour operators have to prove how they 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. Furthermore, they have to provide examples of how they respect and enhance the historic heritage, authentic culture, traditions, and distinctiveness of host communities

Furthermore, members are expected to give open and transparent information to their customers about how their visit benefits locally. 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.

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