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THE WALKING PARTNERSHIP


RESPONSIBLE TOURISM
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Travel enriches lives and boosts communities who rely on tourism as their main economy. However, with increasing air travel and more people than ever travelling the globe, mass tourism inevitably brings with it some negative side effects. Issues such as global warming, degeneration of local environments, and the overwhelming of communities and cultures, mean it is important that we work to help slow the pace of these damaging effects and keep our world a beautiful place. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office provides advice to help British travellers make informed choices about travelling abroad and to be prepared for an overseas trip.


HOW WE PROMOTE RESPONSIBLE TOURISM
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The well-known saying, "take only photographs, collect only anecdotes and leave only footprints" is certainly true. However, we try to ensure that we tread only softly in all the countries we visit. Since our earliest holidays in 1946, we have been committed to ethical tourism in all our destinations.

  • We aim to operate within the Travellers’ Code set out by the Friends of Conservation and we try to ensure our holidays give consideration to local people and cultures.
  • Our tour leaders are usually familiar with local language and customs - some are residents. We often use local guides, transport, porters and food to benefit the local economy without exploitation.
  • We try not to insulate you too much from the realities of local life. You’ll be on holiday to gain new experiences and you’ll have them in abundance.
  • We like to develop long-term relationships with our destinations, hoteliers and other local partners. In order to achieve this, it is vital that we take care of the places we visit and support the people we work with overseas to ensure that we can all keep enjoying these destinations year after year. 

Our holidays are designed for you to discover the essence of the country you are visiting. Travelling in small groups not only gives you an ’up close and personal’ experience of your destination, but minimises your impact on the immediate environment. We feel that the most important starting point to protect the environment is to be ‘out in it’. Without being out there and having an awareness of its beauty, importance and vulnerability, there is no understanding or sense of loss when it is threatened.

We help support the communities we visit by funding various projects overseas and in the UK. We even installed a waterwheel into the refurbished mill we operate from the purpose of generating electricity by hydropower. It uses the flow of the River Lea which runs under our offices and is the first of its kind to generate electricity in Britain. This provides us with our own sustainable source of power, with any excess going to the National Grid. Currently, we’re running at close to 50,000-kilowatt hours per year which is the equivalent of saving 21 tonnes of CO2, 75,000 air miles, or enough to power around 10 homes for a year!






OUR TOP 10 TIPS FOR A RESPONSIBLE HOLIDAY
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Do your homework

Find out a little about the history and culture of the country you are going to be visiting. Look at a map, read a guidebook or call us if you have any major concerns. Their concepts of time or of what is important may be wildly different to what you are used to. Making the effort to learn a few words of the local language will usually go a long way. And don’t forget, the reason you left home in the first place was to experience something different.
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Avoid displays of wealth

Being able to afford an airline ticket is enough to show your relative wealth. Keep your valuables in a safe place until it is appropriate to use them, or leave them at home in the first place.
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Bargaining

Don’t pay inflated tourist prices just because something might be relatively cheap and not worth the effort of bargaining for - this may well be against local practice and push prices and local expectations up. Bear in mind that what is a small amount to you, may be an important sum to the seller. Equally, don’t drive a hard bargain just because you can. Pay a fair price. Tip what is reasonable locally, not at the Ritz. Again, your tour leader will be able to give you advice.
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Pack in, pack out

Don’t leave anything you brought with you on the trail, including fruit peelings and seeds, which take a long time to decompose and may result in the inadvertent introduction of non-indigenous plant species. Litter is both unsightly and can harm local wildlife, and a discarded cigarette can be a serious fire hazard. Don’t bring in what you don’t need in the first place; unnecessary packaging can be left at home.
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Personal hygiene

Adapt the rules of personal hygiene to the environment you are visiting. When trekking in wild places, you don’t need to wash your hair every day. Use detergents as little as possible to protect sensitive environments and local water supplies. Sometimes it’s OK to forego your daily bath or shower, look a little windswept or have a couple of days’ stubble on your face. If water supplies are limited, use only enough to stay clean.
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Local sanitation

Comply with local sanitation requirements. We are so used to being able to flush more or less anything down the toilet that we forget that, in many countries, this is not a practical proposition. Observe local rules and if in doubt "Bag It and Bin It - Don’t Flush It!"
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Local dress codes

Be sensitive to and comply with local customs and dress codes. Information on key local codes should be on your holiday information sheet but make sure you do your own research too.
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Photos

Always ask permission before taking pictures of local people to avoid causing offence.
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Don’t encourage begging

If you want to give gifts, ask your tour leader for advice on what would be appropriate and how to go about it.
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Give the local food a try

Be sure to try the local food. You should, however, avoid drinks and peeled or uncooked food from unknown sources.


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