We're sometimes asked our opinion on various issues affecting local people so we thought we'd let you know our views on some of the most important issues affecting people involved in tourism.
It is part of our responsible travel criteria that all our members employ local staff and local guides where possible. In some cases local staffing is not possible, such as on trips to Antarctica. We also encourage our tour operators to use locally owned accommodation, ideally a locally owned accommodation that employs and trains local staff.
We believe that tourism should operate in partnership with local people, ultimately providing employment and economic benefits for the community as well as helping to place a value on the cultural and natural heritage of a destination.
We believe that visiting tribal cultures can be an incredibly enriching experience for the traveller, and also beneficial to the community, if done responsibly. Be sure that the community you are visiting has extended an invitation to tourists. If you are in any doubt the best advice is not to visit. Read up on the culture and travel with a local tour company with a proven track record or hire a guide from the local community to ensure that you benefit from their knowledge of what is, or is not, appropriate. In addition to ensuring that you minimize any negative impacts, you'll want to ensure that local people benefit from your visit. Trading for crafts, paying for the services of local guides, or for photographs will help to benefit the community.
Porters and shirpas are essential travel companions when trekking in remote locations or mountain environments. We believe porters and shirpas are amazing people who are capable of climbing huge mountains often twice as fast as the rest of us whilst carrying all the equipment we need. We believe porters and shirpas are incredibly valuable to the tourism industry and should be treated as such.
We encourage all of our operators to pay porters and shirpas fairly and to sign up to a porterís protection scheme such as International Porter Protection Group or International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC). In fact, many of our operators have already joined these groups including Intrepid, World Expeditions, Wild Frontiers, Audley, Exodus and Charity challenge. Details of how each tour operator ensures the porters they use are treated and paid fairly should be included in the making a difference sections of each trekking trip.
We recommend that all trekking parties (including the porters and guides) stick together, eat together and learn each others name. That way cultural understanding can be increased and everyone can feel valued. Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of having someone to carry their bags for them. We would advise people who may be uncomfortable in this situation to consider a less demanding trek that does not require porters instead.
For more information about porters please see
International Mountain Explorers Connection (IMEC)
The International Porter Protection Group
The Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP)
Last updated: February 2009