Booking a Tour
Unless you have booked a total package with a travel organisation, you are likely to book a tour while being on a vacation. Some tours could be beneficial for the destination whereas others might actually do more harm than good. So, where can you pay attention to?
Book with a local organisation
Most importantly, book with a local organisation. In that case you are assured that your money stays within the destination. If you book with an international organisation or book directly at your international hotel, the benefits or commissions will most likely end up at the home country of the organisation and not in the country of your destination. Having a local guide will also provide you with more authentic stories about the sight you are visiting
Transportation modes can be accountable for a lot of emissions and therefore we would advise to pick eco friendly transportation. Instead of doing a city tour by car, you can also think of a biking tour or a walking tour. That way you are able to see more of the city.
The way a tour is organised could tell you a lot about their environmental consciousness. For example, a tour that promotes that you can walk or drive off-trail often does not focus on environmental protection. Moving off-trail creates informal trails which are one of the biggest causes of nature damage. Additionally, you could also disturb the animals living in the area. This is a pity, because visiting nature areas can also be an important factor in conserving nature. Entrance fees for example, paid by the visitors often contribute to nature conservation of that area. Other important factors to take into account are how activities with animals are organised, whether activities could be harmful for the environment (like golf courses that use a lot of water), and if the organisation is taking an extra step in protecting the environment, for example by making use of recyclable materials.
Exploitation of local people
Even though you are booking locally, it might still occur that the community that you are visiting is exploited because they are not the ones who profit financially. Therefore, try to book a tour that includes community-based tourism activities in which you can engage with the community. At all times, try to avoid visiting a community for a short amount of time that only gives you the opportunity to walk around and take photos. The local community will often not benefit from this, only the person that organised the tour.
This might actually be the hardest to recognise when picking a tour. However, it is important to choose a tour that puts the wellbeing of its employees first. It can help to look up reviews online to see what others have written about the tour operator. You can also pay attention to the interaction between different employees and other involved people. This might indicate their relationship to each other.