The global expansion of tourism has an unavoidable influence on the fragile habitats and cultures that tourists come to see and experience. As a result, it is critical that we understand the potential implications of our operations and work to ensure that they are as locally sustainable as feasible.
The article “Alternative Paths to Sustainable Tourism” (in brief form, by Tony Griffin and Nicolette Boele – see 1993 The Annual Review of Travel – The American Express Company) identifies the five critical factors for tourism sustainability:
- Preserving today’s resource base for future generations.
- Maintaining the resource base’s productivity.
- preserving biodiversity and preventing irreversible environmental changes
- Ensure equity within and across generations.
- Preserving and maintaining the heritage (culture and history) of a particular place, region, or nation
In order to adhere to these principles, we have created the following code of practice and environmental policy. This policy is intended to inform and guide both ourselves and our clients during the course of our operations. Before booking or joining one of our trips, we recommend that all of our clients read and understand our policy.
Kenya Wild Parks Code of Practice
- We recognize that our activities will have an influence on the destinations we visit, and we strive to minimize the negative effects of our tourism on the surroundings and cultures of the destinations where we operate.
- We work hard to maximize the benefits of tourism to the people, environments, and cultures of the places where we operate.
- We strive to raise our clients’ consciousness of the places and cultures through which they travel.
- To the greatest extent feasible, we engage local operators and organizations to operate our trips, and we endeavor to guarantee that they match our own high environmental and social criteria. Where necessary/possible, we will provide/enable training to these local operatives/organizations.
- Wherever feasible, we employ locally manufactured materials. When we employ foreign equipment, we try to use equipment owned by local operatives/organizations.
- We choose to abide by all relevant international treaties (Human Rights, ILO Labour standards, UN CSD agreements on sustainability).
- We ensure that our operations are in accordance with domestic laws and regulations.
- We are always working to lower our carbon impact in both our Kenya and local operations.
- We conduct frequent audits of our operations to ensure that we are meeting all of the objectives listed above.
Our concerns about the environment, society, and the economy
Many of our tours, by definition, explore a variety of landscapes and cultures. We attempt to leave as little of a negative influence as possible on our trips and, whenever feasible, act in ways that assist the local communities and the environment.
We recognize that CO2 emissions from air travel contribute to global climate change (2-3 percent globally), and their impact should be treated very seriously, especially because air travel is on the rise. Here are a few suggestions for reducing the impact of air travel on the global climate.
- Reduce the amount of domestic/business flights you take each year, or completely replace them with other modes of public transportation.
- Take one longer vacation each year rather than multiple shorter ones if flights are included.
- When possible, use train or bus travel instead of domestic flights during the tour.
Carbon Offsets: In principle, carbon offsets sound like a terrific idea, and they can be if done correctly. However, we feel that it should not be viewed as a replacement for actively decreasing your carbon footprints through measures such as those outlined in the Energy section below. All too often, carbon offsetting is utilized as a “easy method” to appear to be solving the problem by passing the burden and duty to poor countries when, in fact, the affluent industrial countries are to blame. So, if you don’t try to decrease your own carbon footprint first, is it ethical to ask poor countries to bear your load, whether by imposing good habits or acquiring big swaths of land in developing countries for tree planting? “Why not grow them in your own back garden?” one could well respond. As a result, we feel that carbon offsetting should only be utilized as part of a larger carbon-conscious lifestyle.
You can conserve energy and lower your personal carbon footprint whether you are at home or on vacation. A few modest steps can go a long way in setting a good example both at home and abroad.
Whilst at home:
- Switch to a green energy provider that uses renewable energy sources like solar.
- Use public buses or van to work, or for the school run.
- Turn off all unnecessary appliances, particularly at night (don’t leave lights or televisions on standby!).
- When you’re not at home, turn off your central heating and air conditioning.
- Reduce the temperature of the central heating system by a few degrees (try just 1 to 2oC).
- Reduce the temperature of the water heater (just 2oC will make a significant saving).
- Fill the kettle with only as much water as you’ll need.
- Before operating your dishwasher or washing machine, make sure you have a full load (also saves water and washing powder).
- Rather than using a tumble dryer, hang your clothes to dry.
- Recycle your grey water (bath, washing, laundry, etc.) – this is good for your garden, especially if you use green cleaning products.
- Make sure your hot water tank, loft, and walls are well insulated.
- When your phone has finished charging, unplug it and switch off the charger.
- Defrost your refrigerator/freezer on a regular basis.
- Make a single trip to the store for your weekly shopping, or better yet, use local stores that you can walk to.
- Replace your old fridge/freezer with a new one that has an energy efficiency grade of “A” if it is over 15 years old.
Whilst on Holiday:
- When you leave your hotel room, turn off the air conditioning or heating.
- Reduce your use of air conditioning as much as possible to help you acclimate to hotter climates. If you give your body a chance, it will soon learn to cope with heat.
- When you leave your hotel room, turn off the lights and turn off the television.
- Instead of being washed every day, request that your room towels be washed every other day.
Kenya Wild Parks: In our Kenya office, we have a completely integrated recycling policy that covers paper, cardboard, plastics, glass, and print cartridges/toners. We also have a number of energy-saving measures in place, such as low-energy light bulbs, double-glazed windows, and heating that is thermostatically controlled.
- Food waste: All biodegradable rubbish should be buried, paper items should be burnt, containers should be reused, returned or given away.
- Toilet stops: Toilet facilities should be used wherever possible. When they are not available, all toilet waste should be properly buried. Toilet paper should be burnt and then buried. Care should be taken to choose spots away from water supplies, food crops and paths.
- Shopping: When possible, use sturdy shopping bags or your daypacks to reduce the usage of plastic bags.
- Packaging: We should bring as little packaging as possible on our vacations, and instead remove and dispose of it before leaving.
- Smokers: Smokers should dispose of their cigarette buts and other materials carefully. When using a private mode of transportation, we have a strict no-smoking policy on all of our tours.
Water is seen as a valuable resource in many underdeveloped countries, and it should never be squandered. It’s also common outside of major cities for tap water to be inconsistent in terms of purity.
- To reduce water contamination, we advocate the use of cost-effective environmentally friendly laundry detergents.
- Always double-check before utilizing local water sources such as pumps or wells, and avoid washing at these areas unless locals encourage you to.
Behaviour and Local Customs
These are frequently incompatible with what you are accustomed to live with and following. They change on some of our tours as the tour proceeds. Respect for local religions, beliefs, and customs should always be observed. As your tour progresses, your tour leader will inform you of any changes to acceptable and suggested attire and behavior. Here are a few examples:
- In Hindu and Muslim communities, don’t eat with your left hand or touch food or water with it.
- When visiting sacred sites, make sure you are properly clothed. Some destinations, have rigorous clothing codes, particularly for women, which must be adhered to. Because it is easy to inadvertently offend someone through your clothing, it is advisable to wear conservatively at all times. If you’re unsure, get counsel from your tour leader.
- Keep public demonstrations of intimacy to a minimum.
- Local residents’ privacy should be respected. Before accessing private residences or workplaces, seek permission or advise.
- Learn a few simple phrases and words in the local tongue. Your efforts will almost always be praised heartily.
- Almost everyone wants to leave with some memorable photos. Before photographing individuals, holy locations, or rituals, you should always seek permission. When shooting paintings or fabrics, avoid using a flash to avoid damaging the colors.
- We do not allow drugs or firearms on any of our tours.
- Some of our trips do not allow alcohol, as mentioned in your pre-departure briefing or by your tour leader.
The fact that we operate a travel company that brings tourists to foreign areas has a huge impact on these places. We have a fantastic opportunity, as well as a huge obligation, to ensure that the money we and our clients spend goes to people who will benefit the most. To that purpose, we will:
- In the day-to-day operation of our trips, we use as many local operators and organizations as possible.
- During their visit, we encourage our clients to utilize the services of local people and organizations (eg. washing clothes).
- Many individuals in the impoverished countries have no choice but to beg (and any donations are, of course, at the discretion of the individual), but others profit from tourists. Clients on one of our trips are frequently more likely to support a community by making a communal donation to a local charity or school. Your leader will be able to help you with this.
- Recognize the significance of negotiating in local cultures and economies. We do not encourage aggressive negotiation since what may appear to us to be a modest sum that is enjoyable to achieve through bargaining can make a significant difference to the vendor. However, not bargaining at all might be bad for the local economy because the extra money you pay almost never goes to the local producer.
- Recognize that tipping (and commission) are an important element of a local economy and provide appropriate advice to our clients.
- When we go grocery shopping, we try to buy as much as possible from local vendors and marketplaces, and we attempt to buy local produce.
The environment through which we travel is a feature of many of our journeys. We want to leave this area and its ecology in the same, if not better, condition that we found it in. We support this by:
- When there is a scarcity of water, ensuring that it is used as little as possible.
- Making informed decisions about where to use the restroom and where to wash (away from water sources).
- Using as little firewood as possible, especially in locations where this resource is scarce.
- Performing trash disposal in a responsible manner
- Purchasing souvenirs made of coral, ivory, rare animal hides, bones, or shells is not recommended. Also ancient pottery or other antique treasures whose sale could inspire additional looting of culturally and historically significant sites in the area.
- Buying souvenirs from sites like official shops in National Parks, which return funds to the operation and preservation of such places, is recommended.
- In National Parks, only recognized trails are allowed to be driven on. Also, we want to make sure that our animal viewing causes the least amount of interruption to the park as possible.
- To reduce erosion, only use main pathways when hiking.