Responsible Travel Travel with integrity

Responsible travel is our passion

Our passion to preserve local lifestyles and promote responsible travel comes from our deep care for the cultures and countries we visit. You will experience travel small groups instead of large herds of tourists and be able to give back to the community with intentional actions and visitations.

Responsible travel is about respect, sustainability, and fulfillment without negatively impacting the local culture.

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL SUITS LIFE’S CURIOUS ADVENTURERS AND ENTHUSIASTS.

Respecting and preserving the local community

  • Give back to the special places and people, and receive much more grace in return
  • Choose to experience deeper and authentic traditions, cultures and rituals over typical tourist activities.
  • Travel with respect earns respect. Responsible travelers understand that some rituals are best kept private.
  • Understand that the income from tourist can be a powerful incentive for conservation of global diversity
  • Leave no environmental traces behind

Terraverde Travel Trained Staff

We are deeply committed to Responsible Travel, and continuously improve our Responsible Travel policy by providing training to our staff, evaluating our tours and services and learning from best practices and valuable inputs of our clients.

As a traveller, you also have a role to play in continuing Terraverde’s efforts on your trip. These guidelines aren’t intended to be overbearing, but informative, so that your travel experience is beneficial for you and the places you visit.

Sustainability for the local community and nature

Responsible travel is about rediscovering how to experience nature – absorb it, be in it, feel it, smell it, and learn about it – rather than just look at it.

Responsible travelers would rather get out on foot than sit in a big bus, and are determined to leave no physical evidence of their visit but their footprints.

Additional Resources

This factsheet will introduce key Responsible Travel concepts. For more detailed information, please visit www.responsibletravel.org, www.sustainabledevelopment.org or our website www.terraverde.travel.

Cultural Issues

Respecting Cultural Differences

Enjoy the fantastic experience of cultural diversity while you travel, but make sure to encourage and respect the differences that you encounter, don’t try to change things for your own comfort. Remain patient and calm, more doors will open to you than if you ‘lose your cool’.

Assisting the Locals in their Understanding of Western Culture

The flipside of experiencing cultural diversity is helping locals gain a better insight into Western culture, particularly beyond the superficial attractions of monetary wealth. Respect the locals’ wish to develop economically – everyone has a right to better standard of living and development.

Photography – Videography

Sensitivity is the key when it comes to photography/video filming. Always ask permission before taking photographs/videos of people and respect their wishes if they refuse. Minority groups in particular are often unhappy to have their photo taken.

Answering questions!

The ideal demeanour for the traveller is to be friendly and ever ready to answer questions like Where are you going? Are you married? How old are you? Such questions in western societies are personal, but Asian people are just being friendly and curious. If you are uncomfortable try to subtly change the subject. Bear in mind also the different attitude towards privacy in Asia. Here people are used to sharing and living in close knit communities, so try to remember this and be patient if a local person seems to have an over-zealous interest in your books, cameras etc.

Etiquette – the all important “Saving Face”

There are a few general codes of behaviour that apply throughout the areas in which we operate.

  • Crooking your finger to call somebody is considered impolite. Asian people generally use a subtle downward waving motion to summon someone.
  • Showing affection in public is considered quite offensive – definitely no kissing! Even seeing couples holding hands is extremely rare, especially away from the major urban centres. However it is quite common to see friends of the same sex holding hands.
  • It is polite to remove your shoes before entering a house. Look for shoes at the front door as a clue and follow suit.
  • Criticism should only be used when put among praise.
  • It is inappropriate to express anger in a raised voice. Becoming angry is embarrassing to the local people with whom you are dealing – they will not be embarrassed for themselves, but for you.

“Saving face” is a subtle but important standard of personal dignity. Personal candour in Asia is largely a matter of sensibility and face.

Dress Standards

Modest Dress

Asian people dress modestly, particularly in rural areas. It is important for travellers to be conservative in their dress, in respect of the local culture. Offensive attire includes not wearing a bra, singlet tops (in some areas) and tight body hugging clothing. Long pants, skirts, sleeved shirts and shorts (that aren’t too short) are appropriate. For temple visits shoulders and legs should be covered while shoes and hats should be removed before entry.

Swimming & Bathing

Nowhere in Asia is nude sunbathing or swimming acceptable, regardless of what you see other travellers doing. In some places Asian women will swim/bathe wearing all their clothes. If this is the case, then a good rule of thumb is to swim/bathe in a sarong or T-shirt where necessary.

Drugs and alcohol

The laws of most Asian countries carry harsh penalties for drug possession or usage including the death penalty for foreigners and locals alike. Your group leader has grounds for asking you to leave a trip if you are found to be using or carrying illegal drugs.

Alcohol use needs to be carefully considered. Village people can construe Western excessive consumption of alcohol as a sign of affluence and elitism. We do not want to be responsible for luring local people to ignore family responsibilities and spending their minimal income on alcohol.
Furthermore, out of control drunken Westerners can damage our positive relationships with locals and negatively change the group dynamics

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Social Issues

Prostitution

The philosophy of Terraverde is one of mutual respect towards everyone we deal with and in particular the local people; the use of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy and we are strongly opposed to any of our travelers visiting prostitutes while in Asia. There are wider social implications apart from the risk of HIV/STDs, many Asian prostitutes are bonded labour unable to return to their communities.

Child prostitution or sex tourism is an abhorrent and illegal act that we strongly condemn. Any incidences of this will be reported to local and international authorities who will ensure that the person involved will be questioned, and if appropriate, charged.

Beggars

Do not give to begging children as it encourages them to make a living this way. You may wish to give to the elderly or disabled as there is no social security or way these people can earn money.

Ways not to give!

Giving money and goods away at random to individuals accentuates an unequal relationship between locals and visitors, with tourists being seen as purely ‘money givers’. Do not pay for acts of kindness in monetary terms (eg. paying kids for photographs) this encourages the development of a society that equates every human action as a potential money making scheme.

Do not give sweets to children in the villages that we visit. Local people do not have access to dentists and there is the issue of turning children into beggars. Pens, toothbrushes, clothing are best distributed via a local charity, school teacher, or community leader.

Avoid feeling that you necessarily have to give ‘material’ things, giving something of your friendship, time and interest to interact like a smile, a joke, a sing-song, dance or playing a game – this can be the best gift of all.

Donations and gift giving

This is a difficult issue for many travelers who want to assist the local communities but are unaware of the larger implications. There are many ways in which you can have a positive input into the communities that you visit:

Appropriate donations

Make a donation through Terraverde Travel to one of the local projects and charities it supports. We collect clothing, first aid items and ensure they go directly to the requested charity or project. We integrate social projects such as “Seeing Hands” blind massage and visits to street kids shelters in our tours to help our guests better understand the social problems of the country they travel and supporting the projects at the same time.

Environmental Responsibility & Waste Minimisation

We don’t want our presence in Asia to add to the problem of excessive pollution in Asia and need to minimise our impact on the places by practising waste minimisation initiatives whilst on holiday. Adopt preventative actions on your trip by practising the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Say No to Plastic

Try not to use plastic covered or wrapped foods when fresh options are available. The disposal of plastics and styrofoam is a major problem in Asia, take your own bags with you when shopping – “say no to plastic”. When away from towns or cities don’t leave any rubbish that you take in with you. Tampons and sanitary pads should be taken out of the area and disposed of appropriately.

Drinking water

Bottled water is for sale in much of Asia, but unfortunately there are few facilities for recycling the bottles. Actively try to reduce the ‘consumption’ of plastic bottles by using alternatives like refilling one bottle or bringing water purification tablets.

Wildlife

When visiting National Parks or reserves where you will be in contact with wildlife, please ensure that you follow the appropriate Park Regulations that ensure that wildlife is protected. Respect this even if you observe that other tourists don’t and don’t respond to local rangers offering to bend the rules for you.

Energy and water conservation

Be prudent with fuel and water. Pollution, green house gases and other problems of fossil fuel use are escalating as developing countries strive towards having modern Western appliances, vehicles and production methods. For example turn off the air-con/lights in your room when you it’s vacant, leave the air con on ‘fan only’ overnight. Use public transport where possible.

Environmental degradation

On treks, use existing tracks and stay on them rather than creating new tracks (especially in wet season) as this results in a series of footpaths that turn into erosion gullies. When snorkeling, don’t touch coral formations as this can hinder their growth. Stick with the “Take only photos, leave only footprints” adage but then with sensitivity with the photos and footprints!

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