Writing a Making a difference section

Each member on our site is there because they have demonstrated to us that they are offering something unique as a Responsible Travel operator and we don't expect their trips to be any different.

We include a making a difference section on every trip and accommodation page to give you the opportunity to tell the story of how your trip goes above and beyond when it comes to protecting environments and benefitting communities. They are also very important to us as they help to demonstrate to our customers how their holiday is making a difference, something which can ultimately determine whether they make a booking or not.

If a traveller does book, we send out an automatic email when they return 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.

What do we want from a MAD?

The making a difference section is your space to highlight and demonstrate the ways in which your trip or accommodation is leading the way in responsible tourism.

We ask each operator to write an environment and a community section, to explain to the traveller in real, tangible terms how their trip -

  • Benefits local people
  • Supports conservation (if relevant)
  • Minimises waste, energy use, other environmental impacts
  • Minimises any negative cultural impacts (if relevant)

The aim is to make them both engaging and informative, so we encourage you to write them in a way that highlights the ways in which your company has made the trip unique.

Draw on what makes your trip different from mass market operators and explain to us how your tours facilitate:

  • Real experiences based around local cultures and lives, rather than experiences created and packaged up for tourism
  • Meaningful connections 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

Guide criteria – how to start writing your MAD

We have put the following list together as a guide for the kind of information we are looking for in the making a difference sections. Please use the below as a jumping off point from which to craft your own story:

Please ensure that the text in the promise section is unique and trip specific. If the content is too generic, the same as your other product pages, or if text is repeated then the page will not pass our screening process and you will need to re-submit the page.


Please provide details about how you are addressing at least two of the following promises - choose those that are most relevant to your area.  Don’t be afraid to make it personal – tell the story behind the brochure, and of the people who help make the trip what it is. We love local examples and trip specific stories...

  1. Wildlife
    We know our wildlife, are committed to conserving it and encourage guests to follow our lead.
    TIP. Describe the local wildlife as well as your initiatives and projects to help conserve it. Give details of any successes you have had. Provide details of how you are upholding our Responsible Travel policies – for example not visiting elephant ‘sanctuaries’ where elephant riding is offered. Offering wild swimming with dophins as opposed to visiting a dolphinarium etc.
  2. Waste
    We free the land, sea and waterways from rubbish and pollution.
    TIP.Describe how you reduce, reuse and recycle. Plastic waste has particularly come under the spotlight recently – can you discuss any ways in which you reduce this on your trips (for example discouraging plastic water bottles and other single use plastics)?
    Have a look at our tips and useful links on how to reduce single use plastic here.
  3. Water
    We show we understand why water is too precious to waste and, when it rains, we savour every drop.
    TIP. Describe your water saving initiatives and how you involve travellers/guests in these projects.
  4. Energy
    We reduce our energy and find local renewable energy sources for our energy.
    TIP. Describe the place where your energy comes from e.g. is it solar, hydroelectric etc. If you have your own energy source such as a wind turbine, please let us the story behind it.
  5. Buildings
    We build, restore and equip using carefully sourced local materials and in a style that tells the cultural or geological story of the landscape.
    TIP. Describe how you have conserved an old building or preserved the cultural heritage of the area.
  6. Transport
    We recommend low carbon transport and make the journey as stimulating and sustainable as the stay.
    TIP. Describe how this holiday uses local transport, biodiesel or other more sustainable transport methods. If your holiday is a cycling, walking or kayaking tour – highlight this as a low impact way of exploring.
  7. Suppliers
    We use suppliers that match our environmental values.
    TIP. Describe how you encourage your suppliers to follow your example.

  8. Please note that we do not support carbon offsetting  and we no longer include carbon offset schemes in making a difference statements. Instead, please let us know what you are doing to reduce carbon as per the above.

    Additional Extras

    While it is always good to include examples of what you are doing at ‘home’ and in the office in terms of the environment and community (such as charity schemes, recycling and energy saving initiatives) this would not count towards your two or more trip specific core points but is certainly worth mentioning in terms of giving potential customers an idea of your company ethos.


    Please provide details about how you are addressing at least two of the following promises - choose those that are most relevant to your area. Again, this is just a starting point. Don’t be afraid to make it personal – tell the story behind the brochure, and of the people who help make the trip what it is.  The more local examples and trip specific stories, the better...

    1. Friends & neighbours
      We know where to find all things local and we support/ recommend our neighbours, spreading the tourism income to those most in need.
      TIP. Describe how and what you recommend things like locally owned restaurants, guides, day trips etc.
    2. Campaigning for change
      We recognise local issues and actively campaign to address them.
      TIP. Describe specific local issues and what you’ve done to address them
    3. Volunteering & charity
      We support local projects & people through volunteering, fundraising or charity.
      TIP. Describe specific projects you help and how they benefit the local community
    4. A fair deal
      We offer local people good working conditions, a fair wage, and empower them with training opportunities.
      TIP. Give details of how many people do you employ from the local area and what they do. Describe how you support their training & development.
    5. Local crafts and culture
      We sustain jobs and cultural diversity by supporting local craft makers and artisans, and promoting cultural attractions
      TIP. Describe how you and your guests buy local products and visit cultural centre/attractions.
    6. Travelling with respect
      We work to create good relationships between tourists and the local community
      TIP. What do you provide guests with to ensure that they get the warmest welcome locally?


    Please note that your 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.

    There are some tourism activities and attractions that we do not promote on Responsible Travel. Find out more and our reasons behind each one here.


    Be trip specific

    Avoid generalities, we need to know specifics!

    Ensuring that the text in the promise section is both unique and trip specific will save time. If the content is too generic, the same as your other product pages, or if text is repeated then the page will not pass our screening process and you will need to re-submit the page.

    Generally speaking, each policy should be unique to the itinerary, providing trip-specific examples of

    - What you are doing

    - Why you are doing it


    - How you are doing it.

    Rather than say for example ‘we conserve water on this trip’ – we’d like to know how you are doing this and the story behind why.

    If an accommodation is locally-owned, can you elaborate on this? What extra lengths has the owner gone to in order to make their accommodation sustainable? Do they support others in the community in terms of employment, for example?

    Use the MAD section to bring to life the authenticity of the holidays by making it as personal as possible. Don’t be afraid to name specific guides, accommodation owners, villages, restaurants, shops, local craftsman and families who help make your trip what it is.

    Highlight key local issues

    Making a difference sections should address, rather than omit or gloss over key local issues such as water use, plastic waste, over-tourism, unemployment, climate change or conservation and should explain how the relevant trip combats these issues.

    For example, if your trip involves a number of in-country flights, can you help justify with a community related benefit (e.g. being able to visit villages which might not otherwise be accessible due to time/distance constraints)?

    If your trip visits a fragile area or one which has been linked negatively with the effects of over tourism (such as Machu Picchu), can you pick out a couple of examples of what practices you have put into place to help ensure your trip is sensitively run?

    Know what we do and don’t support

    We are constantly updating the list of Things We Don't Promote at Responsible Travel. Please keep an eye on the page and feel free to highlight any ways in which your tours are operated in line with our criteria (for example only visiting elephant sanctuaries which don’t offer elephant rides). Our guide to Responsible Tourism further outlines our views on Responsible tourism issues. You can read it here

    Have a look at our our current campaigns and mention anything that you are doing on the ground which supports them. If you are eradicating or cutting down on no single use plastics for example, then mention so in your statement alongside examples of what you are doing. For some plastic-free inspiration, see our tips on how to reduce single use plastic.

    Some examples of good MADs

    For inspiration have a look through existing product on our site. Here are a few examples of MADS we like:

    Small group cycling trip in Peru

    Mongolia adventure holiday

    Husky safari in Finland

    Cuba group tour

    Volunteering trips

    At Responsible Travel we have a number of guidelines in place when it comes to volunteering trips. Please do familiarise yourselves with these as they will give you a good idea of whether your trip will pass our screening process or not. We are much more likely to pass a trip that has addressed our criteria so please have a read of our information section on this before submitting your MAD. You can find it here.

    Accommodation owners

    We have put together some prompts and guidelines specifically for accommodations. Please follow this link for more information on these.
Convert currencies