The making a difference paragraphs on every trip and accommodation page are very important to us as they substantiate our promise of responsible tourism and meet tourists increasing interest in understanding how their holiday fits into the lives of local people and protects the environment.
The 250 word plus text that is written by the operator should say how the specific trip/accommodation operates a way that minimises the negative impacts and increases the positive impacts on the environment and the local community, both socially, economically and environmentally.
The making a difference paragraph forms an important component of whether a traveller will make a booking or not. Please note that the company name should not be included in any part of the page, including the making a difference paragraph and if included will delay the amount of time taken to put pages live.
We also send out an automatic email when the traveller returns asking for feedback on their holiday - one of the questions asked is whether they felt that their holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment. All responses are not edited and will be posted on the site.
We've put together these tips to help you put together a making a difference paragraph that is quantifiable, that will excite travellers and encourage bookings and help us to change the tourism industry.Objectives of MAD paragraphs
To explain to the traveller in real, tangible terms how this trip -
- Benefits local people (all product)
- Supports conservation (if relevant)
- Minimises waste, energy use, other environmental impacts (all product)
- Minimises any negative cultural impacts (if relevant)
Tip 1: Avoid generalities, we need to know specifics!
Tip 2: We must feature how we support people AND minimise environmental impacts
Tip 3: Read the making a difference paragraphs on the site for inspiration It's marketing too!
Write them in such a way that makes the trip appealing! We market more ‘authentic’ holidays. Authentic travel is about -
- Real experiences based around local cultures and lives, not experiences created and packaged up for tourism
- Meaningful connection with local people, traditions, food, culture
- The ability to be part of, and to contribute to a place
- The sense of belonging and of making a difference
Tip 4: Use the MAD section to bring to life the authenticity of the holidays by making it as personal as possible – e.g. the name of the guide, owner of the home stay – unlike mass tourism we aim to re-connect the traveller directly with local people & cultures.
Tip 5: Storytelling is the most powerful form of marketing we have. Tell the story behind the brochure, and of the people involved in this tourism venture. Make it personal. Getting tourists involved.
Responsible comes from the word to respond. It means to be open to your surroundings, to react to them, and to be part of it in some small way.
Tip 6: Where possible we should encourage members to identify how tourists can participate and be actively involved in making a difference. For example -
- We have joined forces with Kasbah du Toubkal and Room to Read to assist in providing educational books for schools in Morocco . If you would like to offer your support to the project, please bring with you any educational books that will appeal to students from ages 5-18.
- Guests to the house are encouraged to bring unwanted clothing which is welcomed by families especially in the nearby countryside. The practice is socially acceptable because of the important Islamic principle of 'sadaqua', or alms-giving.
Our staff are paid well above average wages and have contracts of employment with agreed conditions of service. (Often porters and guides on Mt Kenya receive little or sometimes no pay, prepared to work just for a tip from the clients. Or they carry double loads - earning more money but compromising your enjoyment as the porters are stressed and arrive late or throw food and rubbish away to lighten the loads.) We provide good equipment for carrying loads, all food and hut accommodation on the mountain.
We also offer insights into the way of life of the Kikuyu people living on the lower slopes of the mountain - so many trekkers just drive past without any appreciation of the fascinating culture there. Our Kenyan Director (Patrick Wanjohi) was born here and he can arrange visits to farms, local villages (with home-stays), schools and clinics - all providing an income those people directly.
We provide our clients with advice on responsible travel behaviour and encourage them to share their cultures with the peoples they meet as a way of improving understanding of our two very different life-styles. With the exception of the overheads for a small UK office - all of the money paid for the safaris remains in Kenya - with Kenyans.
We have built strong links with local communities, craftspeople, artists, singers and musicians who are maintaining threatened traditions. We offer visitors an opportunity to meet them, thereby valuing their activities and thus helping towards their survival. For example, you'll contribute to sustaining traditional calligraphy, an art form under threat of extinction.
You'll also meet local people and enjoy a meal in a 'garden house' in Hue . In Ho Chi Minh City , you'll see the complicated process of making traditional lacquerware in a local workshop. At Vinh Long in the Mekong Delta, the local people will welcome an opportunity to perform their traditional Tai Tu music for you.
Wherever possible, we contract local indigenous suppliers and assist them to improve the quality of their services. By booking this tour, you'll be helping us to support Vietnamese service providers, artists and performers, small businesses, boat owners and other poor people in communities throughout Vietnam.
We use local freelance guides with wide experience and knowledge of cultural traditions and an ability to interpret the cultural heritage of the people in the places visited. For this tour, you'll have about four different guides from various provinces of Vietnam.
We are working closely with a small project in Vietnam trying save a critically endangered species of large primate, now reduced to less than sixty individuals world-wide. The project is described on our web site – we're seeking financial assistance to supplement the meagre resources currently available to the project director while we help her to develop her own web site. We are also collaborating with an international non-governmental organisation in setting up an ecology based village homestay network in the same area to widen awareness of the urgency of the situation amongst visitors.