Nature Tour Operator Guidelines

The International Ecotourism Society, suggest the following guidelines for Nature tour operators:

20080131_Periyar, India_ A massive Banyan Tree, in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in the Southern Indian state of Kerala. Photographer: Daniel J. Groshong/Tayo Photo Group

• Prepare travelers. One reason consumers choose an operator rather than travel independently is to receive guidance: How can negative impacts be minimized while visiting sensitive environments and cultures? How should one interact with local cultures? What is an appropriate response to begging? Is bartering encouraged?

• Minimize visitor impacts. Prevent degradation of the environment and/or the local culture by offering literature, briefings, leading by example and taking corrective actions. To minimize accumulated impacts, use adequate leadership and maintain small groups to ensure minimum group-impacts on destination. Avoid areas that are under-managed and over-visited.

• Minimize nature tour company impacts. Ensure managers, staff and contract employees know and participate in all aspects of company policy that prevent impacts on the environment and local cultures.

• Provide training. Give managers, staff and contract employees access to programs that will upgrade their ability to communicate with and manage clients in sensitive natural and cultural settings.

• Contribute to conservation. Fund conservation programs in the regions being visited.

• Provide competitive local employment. Employ locals in all aspects of business operations.

• Offer site-sensitive accommodations. Ensure that facilities are not destructive to the natural environment and particularly that they do not waste local resources. Design structures that offer ample opportunity for learning about the environment and that encourage sensitive interchanges with local communities.

The International Ecotourism Society, Ecotourism Guidelines for Nature Tour Operators, 1993

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