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Take Action for Responsible Travel

Consider supporting one or more of the following advocacy groups which connect responsible tourism to larger social issues.


Antarctica Tourism Campaign (www.asoc.org) If you are planning a trip to Antarctica, read about ASOC’s campaign, which supports regulation of commercial Antarctic tourism. ASOC is concerned about the rapid growth of commercial tourism, including size of ships, number of visitors to various areas, on-shore infrastructure development, use of helicopters, and other issues that affect the environment.

Arbeitskreis Tourismus & Entwicklung—Working Group on Tourism and Development (www.akte.ch). Site is primarily in German. Arbeitskreis Tourismus & Entwicklung is concerned with the social, cultural, economic, and ecological impacts of tourism on development. It aims to raise public awareness, advocates fair trade in tourism in a critical dialogue with the travel industry, and encourages travelers to be informed consumers.

Coalition on Child Prostitution and Tourism is an anti-prostitution tourism advocacy network.

ECPAT International (www.ecpat.net) End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes is a network of organizations and individuals working to eliminate commercial sexual exploitation of children; it seeks to encourage the world community to ensure that children everywhere enjoy their fundamental rights free from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation.

EQUATIONS (www.equitabletourism.org). This non-profit organization established for research, training, and the promotion of holistic tourism works toward “transforming the inherently exploitative nature of mass commercial tourism.” Its activities include documentation, publication, research, seminars and the investigation of alternative tourism policies and structures.

Equality Now’s Campaign Against Sex Tourism/Trafficking addresses the commercial sexual exploitation of women. The mission is to end violence and discrimination against women worldwide. It has been responsible for shutting down sex tour operations, as well as supporting laws such as the enactment of laws prohibiting the activities of sex tour companies. Other initiatives Equality Now has undertaken include working for the passage of international and U.S. legislation on trafficking.

Ethical Traveler (www.ethicaltraveler.org) is a volunteer-run organization dedicated to educating travelers about the social and environmental impact of their decisions, showing how travel can be a potent form of diplomacy, and giving travelers a forum through which their united voices can serve the world community.

Free the Children (www.freethechildren.com) is the largest network of children helping children through education in the world, with more than one million youth involved in its education and development programs in 45 countries. Its mission is “to free young people from the idea that they are powerless to bring about positive social change, and encourage them to act now to improve the lives of young people everywhere.”

Freedom from Hunger (www.freefromhunger.org). This organization brings innovative and sustainable self-help solutions to the fight against chronic hunger and poverty. Together with local partners, it works to equip families with resources they need to build futures of health, hope, and dignity.

Friends of the Earth International (www.foei.org) is based in the Netherlands and was founded in 1971 by four organizations from France, Sweden, England, and the U.S. It is the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, uniting 71 national member groups and some 5,000 local activist groups on every continent to promote solutions that will help to create environmentally sustainable and socially just societies. Its vision is of “a peaceful and sustainable world based on societies living in harmony with nature…a society of interdependent people living in dignity, wholeness and fulfillment, in which equity and human and peoples’ rights are realized."

Indigenous Tourism Rights International (www.tourismrights.org) This organization is dedicated to collaborating with Indigenous communities and networks to help protect native territories, rights, and cultures. Site is currently under construction.

Initiatives for International Dialogue (www.iidnet.org) is a Philippine NGO that campaigns for responsible tourism.

International Bicycle Fund (www.ibike.org). IBF promotes bicycle and other aspects of non-motorized transportation worldwide, especially in less developed areas, with a particular interest in Africa and South America. Areas of activities include: urban planning, rural mobility, economic development, safety education, environmental quality, energy conservation and responsible tourism. Sponsors small group bicycle tour programs worldwide. IBF also gives annual awards for a student bicycle essay contest.

The International Porter Protection Group (www.ippg.net) works to improve the conditions of mountain porters in the tourism industry. This means porters carrying for individual trekkers, organized groups, climbing expeditions and those who supply lodges.

International Society for Ecology and Culture is a non-profit organization concerned with the protection of both biological and cultural diversity. Its emphasis is on education for action, and to this end its activities include producing books, reports, and films; local national and international networking; community initiatives and campaigning. Its program in Ladakh, where it has been running a wide range of projects since 1975, won international acclaim for countering the negative effects of conventional development in that region. ISEC has now established an “Ancient Futures Network” to bring together groups and individuals from every corner of the world that are struggling to maintain their cultural integrity in the face of economic globalization.

Rainforest Alliance (www.rainforest-alliance.org) is a non-profit organization that works with people whose livelihoods depend on the land, helping them transform the way they grow food, harvest wood and host travelers. From large multinational corporations to small, community-based cooperatives, the Rainforest Alliance involves businesses and consumers worldwide in its efforts to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace.

Rare (www.rareconservation.org), a U.S.-based conservation organization established in 1973, works globally to equip people in the world’s most threatened natural areas with the tools and motivation they need to care for their natural resources. Recommended: Rare Pride campaigns, which are locally run and rally whole communities around the cause of environmental protection.

RESPECT is more formally known as “The Institute for Integrative Tourism & Development.” This independent, international, non-profit organization conducts research and trains and informs governments, operators, and travelers about tourism and sustainability, especially in developing countries.

The Third World Network (www.twnside.org.sg) TWN is an independent non-profit international network of organizations and individuals involved in issues relating to development, the Third World, and North-South issues.

Tourism Watch (www.tourism-watch.de). Tourism Watch was established in 1975 by the Church Development Service of the Protestant Church in Germany. It coordinates a European network of responsible travel organizations, and it is involved in training programs and solidarity initiatives surrounding the issue of Third-World tourism. Much of the site is in German.

Tourism Concern (www.tourismconcern.org.uk). Tourism Concern has been working since 1989 to raise awareness of the negative economic, cultural, environmental, and social impacts of tourism. Advocacy is a major part of its work as it campaigns for fair and ethically-traded tourism. Recommended: The Good Alternative Travel Guide by Mark Mann (2002, Tourism Concern/Earthscan, 246 pp). The new edition of Tourism Concern’s guidebook, The Ethical Travel Guide: Your Passport to Alternative Holidays by Polly Pattullo & Orely Minelli (2006 Tourism Concern / Earthscan, 320 pp) offers more than 300 places to visit and stay in 60 countries. Cost: Mix of Free/Pay

The Travel Foundation (www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk) is a registered charity “caring for the places we love to visit.” Its main aim is to raise awareness of the impact of tourism on the host destination and how we can increase the benefit to local communities while limiting the environmental impact.

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