In addition to the responsible travel online portals, the following are useful online resources that can help you arrange the practical elements of ethical and sustainable travels worldwide.
Earthcheck. Although certification of sustainable travel is still a much-debated topic, the Australia-based organization has established itself as a “global benchmarking, certification, and improvement system for sustainable travel and tourism.” It is based on the U.N.’s “Agenda 21” (a comprehensive plan of action to be taken in every area in which humans impact the environment) and on the principles of Sustainable Development endorsed by 182 Heads of State at th U.N. Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit. Its searchable “Travel Planner” provides a mechanism for travelers to find its certified resorts, accommodations, and tours.
EarthFoot (www.earthfoot.org). This non-commercial website promotes independent hosts and serves as a public forum where individuals such as naturalists, guides, historians, and community activists from around the world invite travelers to visit and participate in small-scale, low-impact programs they have developed. Through the site you can communicate directly with prospective hosts via email.
people and places is a not-for-profit company that matches volunteers with local projects that are run by local people for the benefit of their communities and their environment. Its core values are mutual respect, service, partnership, transparency, and sustainability. people and places closely screens both projects and volunteers, and its policies are clearly explained on its site.
Responsibletravel.com is an online travel agent that provides a searchable directory for travelers who want “more real and authentic holidays that also benefit the environment and local people.” Tour operators and local accommodations owners must adhere to Responsibletravel.com’s criteria to be listed. It also offer a sign-up for an eMagazine that proves the latest on destinations, travel ideas, and special deals.
Slow Travel. Slow Travelers stay in vacation rentals around the world—apartments or houses that you rent by the week. “This makes for a different, slower, type of vacation. You stay longer in one place and get to know one area in depth,” according to site founders Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen. “The extra time in a place lets you find your favorite coffee shop, get your groceries at the local stores, go to the weekly market….”
www.whl.travel, a private company registered in Hong Kong and owned and operated by a team of international collaborators, originated from a project initiated by the Mekong Private Sector Development Facility in 2002 to assist small- and medium-scale local accommodation providers to access the Internet. Worldhotel-link.com supplies WHL e-marketplaces and provides technical, operational, and marketing support services to the community of e-marketplaces, which are locally owned and operated. It offers an online booking service to travelers with a mind toward sustainable tourism development. WHL recently added a rating feature to its site on “Caring for the Destination.”
ASSET (www.asset-gambia.com), Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism, was established in April 2000 to bring together, advocate for, and promote a large number of small enterprises that were active in the tourism industry in The Gambia. These businesses include craft market vendors, taxi drivers, official tourist guides, juice pressers and fruit sellers, as well as a number of small hotels, guest houses, and ground tour operators.
NACOBTA (www.nacobta.com.na), Namibia Community-Based Tourism Association, is an association of community tourism projects in Namibia.
Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa is an independent non-profit organization that promotes equitable and sustainable tourism development in South Africa. FTTSA carries out a range of awareness raising activities and facilitates a voluntary certification initiative that awards a special Trademark (label) to tourism establishments in South Africa that comply with Fair Trade principles and criteria.
Aboriginal Tourism Australia (www.aboriginaltourism.com.au) is the primary national organization for Indigenous tourism within Australia. It provides leadership and a focus for the development of Aboriginal tourism, consistent with Aboriginal economic, cultural, and environmental values.
Association Française d’Ecotourisme (www.ecotourisme.info) has useful resources for travelers interested in eco-friendly options in France. French only.
ECEAT-Poland (www.poland.eceat.org), European Center for Ecological Agriculture and Tourism, works with small farmers to use ecological tourism as a tool to help farmers through the transition from conventional agriculture to ecological agriculture.
The Greenways Program and the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation (www.greenways.info) oversee Greenways, which are trails or natural corridors used in accordance with their environmental function and potential for sport, tourism, and recreation. They contribute to natural and cultural heritage conservation, improve the traffic situation, provide opportunities for recreation and tourism and provide a stimulus for adopting a healthier lifestyle and the sustainable use of local resources.
The Prague-Vienna Greenways (www.pragueviennagreenways.org) is a 250-mile-long network of hiking and biking trails between Prague and Vienna created for travelers to walk or bike between historic towns and villages. Prague-Vienna Greenways is a project of the Greenways-Zelene stezky organization, which is a member of the Environmental Partnership for Sustainable Development (Nadace Partnerstvi) in Brno, Czech Republic. These organizations aim to restore and preserve the region’s natural and cultural heritage and develop sustainable tourism.
Costa Rica: Certification for Sustainable Tourism program was designed to differentiate tourism sector businesses based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural, and social resource management. You can search the accommodations that have been evaluated.
Ecoturismolatino.com is a webguide for alternative tourism destinations, operators, and ecolodges in Latin America. Learn more about alternative tourism through its resource sections, “EcoLinks,” and by interacting with other EcoTravelers in its online community.
South American Explorers is a non-profit, membership organization that promotes responsible travel throughout South America. It has clubhouses in Quito, Ecuador and Lima and Cusco, Peru. It publishes a quarterly magazine and sells books and maps. As of 2006, SAE also maintains a Volunteer Database for members. Cost: Mix of Free/Pay (Membership in the SAE is $50 annually for a Regular Membership and $80 for a Couple. There are also other membership categories such as Student, Contributing, Supporting, etc.).
Centro Eco Akumal (www.ceakumal.org) is located in the heart of the Maya Riviera and plays an important role in research, education and protection of the Sistema Arrecifal Mesoamericano. Akumal, the oldest resort village on the Mayan Riveria, has developed with a focus on long-term sustainability and protection of natural and cultural resources. Use its directory to find eco-friendly accommodations, restaurants, shops, and things to do. Ratings based on members’ participation in recycling, protection of coral reefs, water conservation, turtle protection, and eco-bathrooms.
Redturs (www.redturs.org) is a “network of communitarian tourism of Latin America” that supports the development of community-based tourism at the national and regional level, with the purpose of diversifying income-generating activities and employment, strengthening cultural identity, and preserving social cohesion; it further promotes social dialogue and alliances between rural and indigenous communities and private enterprises and public institutions. Travelers can use the country-specific links to find information about community-based tourism destinations, information on Latin American government policy on tourism, listings of operators and accommodations. Most content is in Spanish.
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