Friday, February 24, 2012

Responsible Travel: Part 2

Following our first series of our responsible travel and that you are now bent on becoming responsible travelers.

Our second series puts its focus on the destination entity i.e. how the destination can encourage responsible travel. There is so much destinations can do, in fact listing the do’s would be endless. Not to worry though, we will be glad to give tips on how to be a responsible travel destination. So we will try a different approach.
What destinations should do to steer clear from green washing.What is greenwashing? 

Green washing is disinformation that is disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible image i.e. a marketing gimmick.

The causes for greenwashing in travel are no different than in other sectors. Businesses run the risk of falling into the greenwash trap while attempting to increase sales to create differentiation in a highly commoditized travel market.

1.       The hidden trade off. A claim suggesting that a product is ‘green’ based on a narrow set of attributes without attention to other important environmental issues. An eco-lodge should have standards and policies they adhere to complying with responsible tourism.
2.       Proof
An environmental claim that cannot be substantiated by easily accessible supporting information or by a reliable third party certification. Join an eco tourism or responsible travel organization where your lodge can be rated without prejudice and the ratings made public.
3.       Vagueness -a claim that is so poorly defined or broad that its real meaning is likely to be misunderstood by the consumer

4.       Worshiping false labels. A product that, through either words or images, gives the impression of third party endorsement where no such endorsement exists (fake labels). There are hundreds of global tourism eco labels, certifications, accreditations, guidelines and codes of ethics that are adopted by destinations, hotels, transportation and attractions. The lack of an easily recognized certification can lead to the impression that the tourism product is certified “green” when no proper information is provided as to how it is achieved and audited.
5.       Irrelevance an environment a claim that may be truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful for consumers seeking environmentally preferable products e.g. recycling. Let your guests know what you recycle, how you recycle, why you recycle and how they use the recycled product or how the recycled product is of benefit if not to them, then to the community. It is not enough to tell your guests that you recycle. Show them the impact of recycling.

6.       Lesser of two evils
A claim that may be true within the product category, but that risks distracting the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of the category as a whole. What emits less carbon? A car, a train or a plane? Bottom line is that all of these forms of transports are powered by non-renewable energy and it ultimately comes down to relative choices about which option is less harmful to the environment.

7.       Fibbing: 
Environmental claims that are simply false. This is the least committed sin. Or it could be that it is hard to prove because the lodge’s documents are private and cannot be viewed.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Responsible Travel - A Twist to Tourism Business?

Ever wondered what Responsible travel is about?  Respecting and benefiting local people and the environment. It brings together conservation, communities and tourism. It is a ‘means’ to more benefits from the environment accruing from responsible tourism practices.

Responsible travel revolves around these entities:
1.     Traveler/Tourist
2.     Destination
3.     Travel agent (if any)
4.     Local community

Let’s take a keen focus on the traveler/tourist entity and in successive articles we will; focus on the rest of the entities) and what he/she can do to promote responsible travel. Here are a few tips we thought to be of interest:

1.     Make flying a last option?
Of course, air travel is the fastest way to get to faraway lands. Unfortunately, it is also the single most environmentally harmful mode of transportation available to travelers. Airplane emissions are more detrimental to the ozone layer than those from ground transport, partly because the pollution simply occurs higher up in the atmosphere. One way to reduce your impact is to take longer, less frequent trips. Rather than jetting around the world in a whirlwind tour, why not stay in one place until you’re living like a local? You’ll use up less jet fuel and have a deeper experience.

Another way to approach the issue is to look closer to home for your adventures. The area around where you live may seem a bit boring at times, but with a little research, you’re bound to find some kind of cultural or natural attraction that’s close enough to travel to by car. If you keep your mind open, you could discover something in the next county over that’s just as exhilarating as something you’ve experienced halfway across the world.

2.     Eat and drink local
It’s an approach that not only reduces pollution and carbon emissions (from transporting food long distances), but supports local economies as well. It can also mean the difference between having an authentic travel experience and feeling like an uninformed tourist.

3.     Reduce waste at hotels
Have you ever taken a longer shower, left the lights on, or cranked up the air conditioning in a hotel room? It’s all too easy to overindulge on energy and resources, especially when away from home. Staying in a hotel, you get that delightfully anonymous feeling that almost wipes away your accountability to anyone.

Maybe it’s time you opted for eco-friendly lodges where electricity is generated by solar power, waste recycled, water drawn using hydro power, hot water supplied by efficient 'kuni' boilers, cooking done with gas and eco-bricks from sustainable sources etc

Think about it, responsible behavior matters just as much in a hotel as it does any other place and when you’re a guest in a foreign land, respecting the local resources becomes especially important. Just keep that idea in mind, and you will not be likely to use up water and electricity with such recklessness.

4.     Bring home thoughtful gifts
Rather than buying plastic key chains and t-shirts, why not get some more thoughtful souvenirs? Picking out special items at craft fairs, antiques markets, farmer’s markets, and other places that sell locally sourced products can add cultural depth to your trip.

Knowing the back story of how something was made or where it came from, makes it that much more interesting to bring home. Better still, you could learn some of the basics directly from an artisan. By taking a lesson, you would be supporting an independent business owner, and at the same time, getting hands-on insight into the local culture.

Sales from these merchandise are shared between the vendors and some saved in the fund for future community projects

5.     Pack light
Vehicles have to go through more fuel in order to carry heavier loads. By simply bringing less stuff, you can help make your trips on airplanes, public transportation, and cars more energy efficient. As an extra incentive, it will help you cut down on those luggage fees that airlines charge.
If you pack lighter, you will also be more inclined to walk or take public transportation to get around, rather than hailing a taxi every time you have to move your suitcase.

Images courtesy of © Johann du Toit of

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rwanda raise costs for gorilla permits

Effective 01st of June 2012, gorilla permit fees, excluding permits already pre-booked until the time of the announcement, will be increased from the present US Dollars 500 per person to US Dollars 750 per person as announced by the Rwanda Development Board.

This increase comes at a time when there is significant growth of the gorilla population as well as an increasing demand for gorilla tourism. We are very committed to sustain our efforts in conservation in order to protect their environment as well as the rich biodiversity that exist in our national parks.”  Mr. John Gara, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board which falls under the Rwanda Tourism and Conservation board said.

The extra charge is being subjected to further strengthen protective measures for the prized Gorillas, fund conservation, research, community outreach projects, all of which depend on income from the tourists who come to visit / track gorillas.

Mr. Gara also stated that Rwanda's gorilla conservation had shown significant success, saying that at present they had ten gorilla families that could accommodate a maximum of eight tourists per day per family a number that indicated a double over the past five years.

The Rwandese move has however sparked an open debate with their tri- "gorilla" nation Uganda and Congo DR, particularly Uganda who only last year had reneged from a uniform approach to the permit fees, subsequently reducing the costs to attract more tourists.

Rwanda whose tourism is on a high zenith compared to all her neighbouring East African countries, has immense tourism attractions such as mountain climbing at Volcanoes National Park, visiting Rwanda’s Genocide Memorial Sites: Kigali Memorial Site; Murambi Memorial Site; Nyanza Kicukiro Memorial Site; and Ntarama Memorial Site, canoeing, kayaking, and wind surfing on Lake Kivu at the edge of Rwanda’s Western Province and many other attractions. 

NB: For gorilla or chimp tracking safaris, refer to our website 
 or email us