Tourism has become the world’s largest industry and highly contributes to GDP and foreign exchange earnings of the host country. It also gives direct or indirect employment to people and creates opportunities for social and economic growth. However, the development and expansion of tourism without proper management brings negative impact on local people and environment so everyone involved in this industry has a responsibility to ensure that tourism is a force for good. Therefore, the concept of a responsible tourism has been emerged. Responsible tourism is an approach to the management of tourism, aimed at maximizing economic, social and environmental benefits by minimizing costs to host destinations creating better places for people to live in, and better places to visit achieving the bottom line of sustainable development, i.e. economic growth, conservation of cultural and natural heritages, environmental integrity and social justice to make a positive experience for all.
Natural environment is the nature’s most precious gift to us and well-being of the environment around us is a true reflection of ourselves. Thus, on camping treks we do not use firewood and aim to leave campsites in as good or preferably better condition than how we found it. We put tents at least 30 metres away from streams, lakes and other form of water sources. In this way, we always focus on minimizing negative environmental impacts and, where possible, make a positive contribution to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage embracing diversity to preserve theirs magical allure for our generations to come. We employ local staffs on the trips we operate. This benefits everyone: greater opportunities and economic benefits for local communities, and travellers get more under the skin of the country they visit. We use locally and organically produce foods as much as possible on our treks rather than imported ones in order to share the benefit of tourism with every one of the host destination.
We always adopt the principles of responsible tourism while operating the trips and believe in sustainable tourism mixed with a sense of responsibility to our society and environment. Therefore, we ensure that all of our operations are abided by this principle and that all trips are developed in accordance with it. We are well aware of that we are not perfect in all areas therefore; we continually strive to narrow the gap between principle and practice.
What you can do to be a responsible tourist
There are lots you can do both before and during your travels that will both improve your holiday and be respectful to the culture and land you are visiting.
Before you go
Read up on history, wildlife and culture of the country that you are visiting.
It’s really worthwhile learning a few phrases of the language for where you’ll be visiting – Chatting with residents of the remote village you trek through in a basic language makes your trip more interesting and enriching as well.
Etiquette and customs
Remember – you’re a guest. Behave as you would expect a guest to behave in your home. People always appreciate some understanding of their formalities and etiquette. Buddhist, consider feet are unclean and to point them at someone or to step over someone who is sitting on the floor is considered rude and disrespectful. Similarly, putting your feet up on a table or a chair is rude. They consider people's heads are sacred and shouldn't be touched. If you are seated on the floor, etiquette demands that individuals don’t step over your legs. Draw your legs up to let them pass. It’s always good to know how to greet your hosts. A common form of greeting in Nepal is `Namaste'. Put your palms together in a prayer-like gesture and bring it about few inches below your chin, bow your head and say "Namaste" which means “I bow to you”.
Religious and historic sites
Remember to take off your shoes when entering a monastery or a temple. Always ask permission before intruding on ceremonies, and act with appropriate respect inside religious buildings and at ritual events. Specific customs apply for entering Buddhist monasteries and temples: no shoes, women should not touch Buddhist monks or hand objects directly to them. Buddha’s images are objects of veneration so don’t touch them disrespectfully and never point your feet in the direction of an image, or towards a monk.
Be sure to check the rules before taking photographs.
If you’re exploring ruins tread lightly, be aware of where you step and take the advice of sites’ caretakers. Don’t enter into prohibited areas.
Himalaya’s and rural residents’ in general wear modest, conservative dress. Comfortable clothes that cover up the shoulders and past the knees are a good choice.
Nudity is frowned upon.
Leave your finest and valuable jewellery at home – flashing it is tactlessly conspicuous, in terms of attracting thieves.
In most cases, we recommend you don’t give money to beggars. We can assist you find other ways to help. In some cultures, direct donations have helped create a culture that undermines traditions, or can be destructive to important crucial parts of life – for example, children skipping school to beg. During your travels if there’s a particular community you want to help, our local guides are best placed to advise how you can do this. If you take gifts to distribute while on holiday like; stationery for children, we recommend giving them to a local school teacher or village head for distribution. Alternatively, your guide can also help to distribute the gifts in a responsible manner.
We advise against paying to take photos of people – it can become another form of begging. Always ask permission before taking someone’s photo – and then respect their response. If you promise to send someone a photo, please do so. We can sometimes help out, for example by delivering it next time we pass through.
Shopping and bargaining
Bargaining takes place in Himalaya’s markets. Remember, it’s not about competition – it’s not a price war where you barter the vendor down to the lowest possible price. It’s about fairness, for both seller and buyer. Ask yourself this as you bargain: that last dollar you’re tempted to haggle over, does it make a bigger difference to you or the seller? Keep things in perspective, and keep it fun!
Try to make sure whatever you buy – whether crafts or food is locally produced, helping the local community benefit. Try not to be bothered by any touts you meet. They might sometimes appear aggressive but they’re trying to make a living in a poor country – smile and reply politely. Don’t buy products made from endangered species, hard woods, shells from beach traders, or ancient artifacts.
If you are drinking, remember to respect local cultures and act appropriately. Never drive under the influence of alcohol.
If you want to take drugs while you’re on holiday, please don’t book your trip with us. Drugs are illegal in the Himalaya region. Penalties for both soft and hard drugs, possession and trafficking can be severe.
Walking and Trekking
While you’re on the trail, be sure to continue the minimum impact approach. ‘Leave no trace’ is a mantra for responsible tourism, and applies all time wherever you are and whatever you do. Remember not to litter. Pack it in, and pack it out, and that applies to cigarette butts and biodegradable food items as well, which are an eyesore, often take a long time to decompose and can attract rodents and insects. Carrying a plastic bag is useful. When you’re disposing of your rubbish in the towns and villages you pass through, remember to look out for public recycling points.
No littering – leave only your footprints behind.
Watch your step. Particularly in high altitudes and latitudes, the flora can be very slow growing – a careless step can cause damage that takes years to repair. Stepping on rocks or compacted soil can help avoid areas particularly sensitive to damage.
On trekking holidays, we often employ porters to carry your gear so that you can fully appreciate the scenery and the trekking experience. We always try to set the benchmark for the industry on porters, and provide appropriate clothing, food, shelter, healthcare, and insurance and above-average wages for our all porters.
Responsible travel while on safari is about being considerate and getting the basics right – it’s also about having a better safari experience. Failure to observe minimum distances from animals, for example, can result in frightening animals away, spoiling game viewing opportunities for both you and others. When on safari, it’s important to be respectful of the land you are passing through and its inhabitants – always heed the regulations of a park or reserve.
Our small group sizes helps to reduce impact on wildlife – but it’s still up to individuals to minimize noise, dress in a way that helps them blend into the background, and to observe minimum distances. Do this and you’ll have a better, more authentic safari experience.
Always maintain a respectful distance while watching or photographing wildlife. Constant flushing of birds, for example, can lead to stress-induced disease, may result in nesting failures, or lead to abandoned young. A pair of binoculars or zoom lens is the responsible way of taking a closer look.
We urge you to only use biodegradable soaps and shampoos that don’t contain phosphates, and please don’t use them directly in fresh waterways, as even biodegradable soaps are harmful. To wash pots, pans and clothes, carry a basin of water at least 30 metres away from the edge of he stream or lake or any water sources – do not wash directly in the waterway. Scatter the dirty waters over a wide area rather than just tipping it out.
If you are bathing or swimming, consider the sensitivities of local people – both regarding what you wear and using ‘their’ water. Bathe downstream from water collection points of villages and, if you’re using shampoos and soaps, lather up and rinse well away from the water’s edge. Be aware that water attracts native wildlife and our presence should not be disruptive to their habits.