Tour Operators and Travel Agencies Ecology Question 3

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Question

INACTIVE
Does the brand (company) refrain from offering trips to extremely fragile destinations (as defined by UNESCO, and Galapagos Islands and Antarctica), unless organized in an ecologically responsible way?

Dutch version: Sluit het merk (bedrijf) extreem kwetsbare reisbestemmingen (zoals opgesteld door UNESCO en Antarctica en de Galapagos Eilanden) uit van zijn aanbod, tenzij deze reizen op een ecologisch verantwoorde wijze plaatsvinden?

German version: Bietet die Marke/das Unternehmen keine Reisen zu extrem gefährdeten Reisezielen an? Zum Beispiel entsprechend UNESCO: Galápagos-Inseln oder Antarktis?

References and Guidelines

Tourism can be damaging and dangerous for fragile - though fascinating - habitats. These habitats are listed on List of World Heritage in Danger. The Galapagos Islands were removed from this list in 2010 because, according to UNESCO, Ecuador has made significant progress in addressing problems caused by tourism. However, according to Travelife, the Galapagos Islands and also Antarctica should only be visited in ecologically responsible ways (see page 46 here).

Travel companies that do offer trips to these fragile destinations should communicate what makes their trips ecologically responsible. For trips to the Galapagos, brands may work with Smart Voyager, International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) or the Galapagos Conservancy (as Sawadee does) to ensure that the Galapagos ecology will be protected. For trips to Antarctica, brands may work with the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) (as SNP and Sawadee do).

The List of World Heritage Sites in Danger includes 35 locations. Some of them are located in places that are not regular tourist destinations, such as Afghanistan or the Democratic Republic of the Congo and some are man-made. For this question, we are looking for fragile natural destinations. Natural places that are popular among tourists and are included on the List:

  • Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System in Belize
  • Los Katíos National Park in Colombia
  • Simien National Park in Ethiopia
  • Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve in Guinea
  • Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras
  • Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra in Indonesia
  • Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras in the Philippines
  • Everglades National Park in the USA

If the brand DOES offer trips to these locations, they must provide concrete actions or policies on how they ensure their fragile ecological systems are protected. They also get a ‘yes’ if they can show that they comply with the recommendations of the organizations mentioned above.

Ranking guidelines

Yes:

  • [brand] does not offer any trips to these destinations.
  • [brand] offers trips to [fragile destination(s)], but provides sufficient information on responsible practices and procedures, so the trips can be considered ecologically responsible.

No:

  • [brand] offers trips to [fragile destination], but does not inform the consumer about the risks involved, or about ecologically responsible ways of traveling.