Portugal A2Z Walking & Biking
How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
Portugal A2Z has a economic responsibility cautiously focused on the environment and as well on the social issues.
The objective of our sustainable tourism policy is to train our tour leaders, local agents, guides, support team and suppliers about the importance of being sensible to the environmental, cultural and economic issues of the visited countries and to pass that message to our guests:
Through practical orientations on how to reach those objectives.
Defining goals and working towards a sustainable tourism.
In our philosophy it is important that the nature and as well the culture of the visited places is well preserved. We aim to have a positive impact on the countries we visit. For this reason our tours are organized as follow:
we travel in small groups.
we have local tour leaders.
we always recruit local guides, cooks, and drivers.
we use small scale hotels and local restaurants.
we pay a fair price for the requested services.
we inform our guests about the local habits, traditions, culture, religion, diet, and environmental issues.
we include projects/activities related with sustainable tourism on our trips, focusing on environmental and humanitarian aspects.
we encourage our guests to buy locally.
conserve natural resources at the office and in all destinations.
minimize the acoustic pollution, elimination of residues and overcrowding.
give preference to digital communication and use of recycled paper and other recycled materials.
Water is one of the most precious resources on Earth. Even in countries where there is no lack of water supply, energy is consumed to treat water and in sewage systems; the excessive consumption of water can affect the groundwater causing pollution. To face these problems we encourage our guests and ask our tour leaders to follow the following policies:
Take a shower instead of an immersion bath.
Never leave running water unnecessarily (e.g. while brushing teeth).
Wash the dishes in a container instead of leaving the water running.
Contaminated water should be eliminated on the ground at least 30m (100ft) from a water spring or river, and only when there is no sink available.
Always use biodegradable soap in trekking or biking activities and never near a lake or a river.
Never pour water with oil or food residues in a watercourse.
Reuse water bottles and avoid buying water bottles since the plastic accumulation has a strong impact in the environment (especially in remote areas).
DISPERSION, ELIMINATION AND REDUCTION OF RESIDUES
In natural areas the following policy should be followed concerning residues elimination:
Items that should be burned: paper*.
Items that should be buried: vegetables and food residues *.
Items that should be carried: plastic, glass, and cans.
The garbage should be placed only in places where we are sure that it will be collected*.
Rubbish is a big problem in many countries where the infrastructures for residue treatment or recycling are few or inexistent. The first step is the minimization of resources in order to reduce the residues production. Secondly the residues should be treated and eliminated as efficiently as possible.
The residues should be eliminated in a responsible way. Is absolutely forbidden to throw away rubbish through the car window. Tour leaders have a waste container inside the car.
Cigarette butts shouldn't be left on the ground, behind bushes, thrown in water, etc. Waste containers should be used or cigarette butts should be kept until an appropriated place to dispose them is available. We recommend smokers to have a portable ashtray / small plastic / metal box (e.g. 35 mm photographic film containers), are excellent for this purpose and reduce the odour.
The camping areas should be inspected before leaving. All rubbish, including bottle taps and cigarette butts should be collected as well as rubbish left there by other visitors. Guests are also encouraged to collect rubbish during their hikes.
Look for the existence of a recycling centre and use it as much as possible.
* in national parks, directives defined by the park will be followed.
SANITATION AND BATHROOMS
We are aware of the limitations on the sewage system in some locations. In some countries the sewage system is not capable of treating non-human residues therefore is not correct to throw hygienic paper or other types of sanitary residues in the sink. In these cases we advice our guests of an adequate way and we make sure that the containers are regularly emptied.
When camping in a place where toilets are not available, the tour leader should recommend the most appropriated place to substitute them. In these cases, the human residues should be buried and it is not permitted to dump toilet paper. In humid areas it can be burned and in dry areas should be kept in the rubbish container.
RESPECT ANIMAL WELL-BEING AND FLORA
Protect the fauna and flora of the visited places:
Do not feed animals. Giving them different or additional food from their usual diet can be harmful to their health or make them become dependent and compromising their survival in the natural feed surroundings.
Do not persecute animals for photos that can cause them stress.
Do not touch animals, it can cause them stress and can be highly dangerous.
Do not collect flowers or leaves.
SHOPS/SOUVENIRS: ANTIQUITY, CORALS, IVORY, BUTTERFLIES, ETC.
Never buy products made of endangered species (flora and fauna). Be sure that the items you buy are not made with forbidden animals or plants. It is not allowed to take any of these products out of the original countries. However does so will be fined.
List of forbidden products /materials:
Ivory and related products.
Cactus and orchids (e.g., rain sticks are made of cactus).
Chinese medicines and other therapeutic substances.
Any leather products made from turtle, crocodile, snakes, felines.
Butterflies and parrots.
To find more information about the convention on International trade of endangered species in flora and fauna, please visit www.cites.org.
The tour leaders should inform the travellers to be attentive:
To merchandise that can be produced using child labour.
To local regulation related to buying and exporting antiquities.
That buying old jewellery can promote the destruction of family patrimony.
OUR PRINCIPLES ARE:
Respect the environment, cultures and local traditions, contributing for the sustainable development of the region thus promoting the balance of the local economy.
Guarantee the total satisfaction of our clients from day one, reinforcing privacy protection and offering a top notch service.
Apply the same values of respect of human and social rights to all collaborators in any place of the world.
As a touristic operator we have the responsibility of informing our guests about issues that can have a negative impact in the environment and social conditions of the regions we visit.
In order to minimize this impact, Portugal A2Z gives guidelines in trekking, waste handling, photography, donations, etc. Tour leaders have a very important role on informing guests in sustainability matters, thus Portugal A2Z gives training to their tour leaders and guides about sustainability related practical issues.
Local guides have a good conduct code to follow in each different tour. Portugal A2Z makes an effort to work with people and local organizations that clearly have as goals: contribute for the local economic growth; improve the excellence of their services; promote a better understanding of their unique culture.
Portugal A2Z has always worked together with local guides, in the respect for local traditions and cultures, in order to minimize the impact of our activities and, at the same time, develop local economy.
1% of our revenues are donated to grassroots, social and environmental groups that make a difference in their local communities. In the past years Portugal A2Z, together with its clients, financed several projects in Portugal (Decano - Castelo Novo; Quercus/CERAS - Castelo Branco; ATN - Castelo Rodrigo), Chile (Omora Fundation - Puerto Williams; Vladimir Henriquez Fellowship - Punta Arenas), India (The Sun School for Kargyak and Morocco (ESOM association).
Portugal A2Z takes in consideration all comments from of its guests and local partners and tries to maintain an open dialog to improve the social and environmental practices.
CODE OF CONDUCT VISITING SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS OR DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
The tour leader should never visit a school, hospital or development project without asking permission. If the permission is allowed, a brief presentation of the place should be requested.
After the presentation and visit an offer can be given. It can be a small gift to the person presenting the project or money/suitable material for the project. Useful offers are in many cases: pens, paper, scholar books, story books, information books, clothes (new and clean), toothbrushes, toothpaste, tea, sugar, etc.
medicine which description is not in an understandable language for the people in charge shouldn't be offered to hospitals.
CODE OF CONDUCT VISITING HISTORICAL PLACES
While visiting historical places, the tour leader should provide the following instructions to the guests:
Do not touch old monuments because oil, acid and dirt from hands can cause erosion.
Do not take photos using flash in places where it is not allowed, as the light can cause damage.
Do not take with you stones, fossils or archaeological traces.
Stay on marked trails/paths.
Never climb ruins/walls.
GIFTS AND DONATIONS
Is not advisable to give money, candies, presents or medicines to children or adults.
Portugal A2Z discourages offers to homeless that are begging. In many countries there are people depending on offers to survive; we believe that giving them money is a short term solution and does not solve the original problem. Portugal A2Z tries to find ways to offer long-term support to the visited communities by supporting local projects and charity institutions.
Child help should be done through supporting non-governmental organizations that are focused in specific groups, as orphans, handicaped people, etc.
We inform our guests about projects or organizations for local development.
The tour leaders have the responsibility to inform all guests about adequate photography practices and when necessary give additional advises specific to each destination:
Always ask permission to photograph persons or their belongings (e.g. their house, cattle, etc).
Never take a hidden photo. If people do not want to be photographed it is our obligation to respect their will.While visiting villages, schools or other institutions it is respectful to observe, listen and talk before starting to take pictures.
Do not make promises to send back photos if you are not absolutely sure that will be possible.
The tour leader should inform the guests about the most appropriated clothes to wear in each particular country or village. In the information package sent before the trip and on the first meeting with the group there will be information about the general dress code and about the dress code for specific visits or events.
We encourage our guests and tour leaders to dress accordingly to the local culture, even if other visitors do not. Dressing according to local culture is a sign of respect.
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR CARRIERS
Portugal A2Z supports a conduct code for carriers following this list of guidelines:
Carriers' selection: if possible we always work with locals.
Minimum age: never recruit carriers younger than 16 years old.
Salary: The salary is fair and includes meals. The tips should be distributed in a fair and transparent way. The carriers will be immediately paid at the end of their duties.
Accommodation: The accommodation is covered by us in refuges or tends, including park taxes. Load: No one will be ever asked to carry more than 25kg. The guests are informed that carriers will only take 15Kg of their luggage.
Clothes: All carriers will have adequate and sufficient clothes to face all climate conditions.
Health care: All medical and evacuation expenses are covered in case of sickness during the trip and the agreed remuneration for the service will be paid in full.
Awareness and behaviour of guests: Guests and carriers will be introduced at the beginning of the trip. Guests will be advised about adequate tip values and most appropriated moment to tip carriers.