Responsible Travel Policy
Our mission is to provide our clients with the adventure of a lifetime by offering them a means to experience diverse cultures and explore unfamiliar landscapes in a safe, exciting and responsible way. We have always been a firm supporter of responsible travel practices and we actively promote this philosophy within the company, to our travellers and to our business partners.
We know that adventure travel can bring many benefits to the people we visit, helping to provide a living for communities involved in the tourism industry and promoting cross-cultural awareness and understanding. However, travel can also have a negative impact on local people and their environment. We try to identify and reduce negative impacts to ensure that adventure travel is a positive and sustainable experience for our clients and local people.
A responsible travel policy is only as good as the people who commit to it. As a company we are committed to operating according to the guidelines in this document and we hope with your help we can make a difference. Tucan Travel believes:
- The true rewards of travel come from experiencing a different culture while also giving something back to the communities who make us welcome
- As a tour operator it is essential to study and respect the customs of the people we are visiting and to share this knowledge with our clients in order to promote mutual understanding and respect.
- We aim to avoid causing offence and to help clients to appreciate the local culture, enriching their experience and helping local people to enjoy their interactions too. • We should ensure that local economies benefit from our business by using locally owned and managed accommodation, employing local people as expert guides, sourcing our food and equipment locally where possible and eating out in locally run restaurants.
- We must minimise our impact on the environment by reducing and offsetting our carbon emissions, reducing waste by recycling, repairing and reusing what we can, and being careful of delicate ecologies, wildlife and their habitats.
A. Caring for the environment
When we’re developing and planning new itineraries our destination managers are careful to ensure that our tours will be exciting for our clients and provide maximum opportunities to engage with the local people and natural environment, in a sustainable way.
A.1 Method of transport
Tucan Travel tries to make sure that the type of transport we use is appropriate to the region that we are travelling in and to the needs of our travellers.
Expedition Vehicles - Latin America, East & Southern Africa
Overland Tours and Bex travel on our privately owned fleet of modern, powerful, comfortable and safe Mercedes Benz Actros expedition vehicles which are custom-built to comply with strict Euro IV emissions control regulations set by the European Union. Tucan Travel regularly checks and maintains the vehicles to the highest possible standard in order to limit carbon emissions and ensure the comfort and safety of our passengers.
Public Transport – Latin America, Middle East & North Africa, Asia & Russia
On Adventure Tours in Latin America, Middle East & North Africa we use varied local transport, such as local buses, trains, ferries, pooled taxi services and tuktuks and human-powered transport such as rick-shaws. By sharing this widely-available transport we are able to reduce our impact on the local environment and reduce emissions while maximising our contact with local people.
Where animal transport is available (such as donkey rides, horse riding, camel treks and elephant rides) the excursions are usually not included in the tour, allowing customers to make their own decision about whether this form of transport suits their particular needs or personal ethics. At Tucan Travel we take animal welfare seriously and we will never work with any operators who mistreat their animals.
Airport transfers and local operators
Tucan Travel offers airport transfers for some of our joining cities where it is difficult to get transport. However where taxi services are available, there is no need for Tucan Travel to compete with local suppliers as this would increase the pressure on the local environment in terms of emissions and parking spaces required.
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We try to look for local hostels and hotels which are safe, comfortable and operated in a sustainable way. In developing countries that we visit the standard of accommodation varies widely, however we make an effort to seek out accommodation which uses energy from renewable sources where facilities exist.
Local resources such as water and electricity are often in short supply and tourism can put pressure on these services and supplies which can in turn reduce the supplies available to local people. In order to mitigate this, Tucan Travel informs clients about local issues such as:
- The availability of hot water
- The scarcity of any water in a particular area and tips about how they can reduce their use and wastage
- The style and limitations of local plumbing, such as the squat vs western-style toilets and what is and isn’t flushable. The sewer systems in many countries are not able to cope with non-human waste. Blockages can cause floods which deprive local people of their vital services and create extra costs
Tucan Travel clients may be asked by tour leaders and crew to:
- Turn off the lights, air conditioning, fans, TV when leaving a room
- Reconsider using air conditioning if possible
- Appliances should be turned off and plugs pulled out of sockets rather than left on standby, which uses electricity
- Consider taking a short shower once daily rather than a bath
- Turn the tap off while brushing teeth or shaving and put a plug in the basin at other times to reduce water use and wastage
- Reconsider whether they need new towels every day and let the hotel know if they would prefer to reuse their towels – this would reduce water used and reduce the amount of detergents in the waste water which ends up in the sewer system / water ways / ocean
- Recycle cans, paper and plastics if facilities exist at the hotel or hostel
- Tucan Travel would encourage travellers to hold on to their plastics if possible to recycle elsewhere if such facilities aren’t available at the hotel
- We would also encourage travellers to tell the hotel that recycling facilities would be welcome, if they’re not currently offered – demand often precedes supply of such services
Guidelines for camping and campfires
Overland Tours and Bex involve a significant amount of camping. Tucan Travel aims to ‘take only photos and leave only footprints’ wherever we camp. Tucan Travel tour leaders and drivers are expected to encourage clients to adhere to the following guidelines when camping:
At popular areas:
- Concentrate on using existing camping sites
- Keep campsites small and focus activity on previously cleared areas
- Do not disturb vegetation
- Do not urinate near or into streams or dump chemicals into the water – use the toilet and ablution facilities provided
- Avoid using soaps with phosphates and don’t wash while you’re swimming if the fresh waterway is likely to be polluted for local people downstream
- Be considerate of other campers and keep the noise down at night-time
- Try to avoid damaging the pristine environment.
- Do not uproot plants or trees – seek clearings and try not to create new trails or tracks, even if existing tracks are muddy.
- Trowels will be provided for clients to bury toilet waste.
- Clients are asked to stay at least 30m clear of any water source and to bury waste as deep as possible to facilitate decomposition
- Burn and bury toilet paper, or else carry it in a bag until the next disposal point is reached. This may be at the discretion of the Tour Leader and Driver
- Carry all waste out – do not leave any plastics, cans, bottles, bottle tops or cigarette ends behind
- Try to recycle where facilities exist
Basking in the warm orange glow of a campfire in an exotic location on a chilly night under the stars is a lovely experience on an adventure tour. However, we do need to consider:
- Is this an appropriate and safe environment to have a campfire? Is the local area very dry and therefore a fire risk?
- Is the fuel from a renewable resource or not? Wood collected should be dead and collected from the ground, not from living vegetation and remember that charcoal is unlikely to come from a sustainable source
- Cooking can be done more efficiently and quickly on gas camping stoves provided on the expedition vehicle
- Do not burn anything made of plastic as this can emit toxic fumes – this includes cigarette butts, bags and wrappers
- Bury the fire after it’s no longer wanted to ensure that it’s out and does not leave an unsightly blemish on the local area
- Do not leave any glass bottles or cans behind and pick up any other non-biodegradable objects such as cigarette butts and papers
A.3 Group sizes
Group sizes are carefully limited according to the destination we visit, the accommodation available and the transport available.
- On Overland Tours and Bex in Latin America, our group sizes are limited by the size of our privately-owned vehicles, which have a maximum seating capacity of 34 passengers. Average group sizes are 15-24.
- On Adventure Tours we operate smaller groups of a maximum of 16 people, in order to reduce our impact on local services and to avoid taking necessary capacity away from local people at peak travel times.
- On Expedition Cruises the group sizes vary according to the size of the vessel
A.4 Guidelines for visiting pristine areas and interacting with wildlife
Travel to national parks and wildlife areas can bring positive economic benefits as entrance fees contribute to the maintenance and conservation of local flora and animal species, while visitors benefit from the educational aspects of the area and take away with them an increased awareness of the need and place for conservation. Tucan Travel tour leaders and drivers are expected to adhere to the following guidelines when visiting areas with delicate natural environments and when interacting with wildlife, whether at national parks or reserves.
- Stick to roads and established paths, keep to speed limits and do not drive the truck off road except in the case of emergency
- Park in allocated spaces, or if forced to find a new space, avoid damaging local flora and fauna – this can take years to regenerate
- Follow the instructions of local guides regarding appropriate conduct
- Maintain the legal distance from animals, as instructed by your local expert guide
- Do not feed the animals – this can make animals sick, overweight, and be stressful for them
- Do not touch the animals – this can transmit diseases to the animals and you may also put yourself at risk of transmission at the same time
- Approach animals quietly, cautiously and slowly so as to avoid distressing them, but avoid approaching nesting or breeding sites as this can cause stress to parents and young alike. If the animal’s behaviour changes as you approach, you’re probably too close
- Consider getting a camera with a long-range lens so you can take candid shots of the animal’s natural behaviour
- Turn off your flash when taking photographs and avoid shining lights directly at animals or in their eyes at night
- Do not support attractions which use animals as entertainment for profit. These animals are often taken from the wild, mistreated and are trained to perform unnatural behaviours which are often harmful to the animal
- If snorkeling, wear appropriate footwear and do not touch coral or put your feet on it
- Leave the coral where it is – it’s a living organism. Don’t try to collect it to take it home, and don’t buy it elsewhere as this encourages exploitation of coral
- Never anchor on a coral reef – if it’s not possible to use a floating buoy, snorkel elsewhere
- Don’t approach dolphins in the wild – let them approach you. Don’t try to grab their dorsal fins or any part of their tails – they are not a toy to ride on
- Don’t be tempted to purchase anything made of ivory, bone or skin (normal leather is ok)
- Avoid animal parts such as teeth, or whole specimens like butterflies
- Avoid wild animal meat on restaurant menus, even if it does sound adventurous. It is usually illegal to import these items into your home country and this practice encourages poaching, which can have devastating impacts on local animal populations
A.5 Guidelines for visiting historic sites
Many of our tours offer opportunities to visit ancient places such as UNESCO World Heritage Sites where our entrance fees contribute to the maintenance and restoration of these unique places. Tucan Travel asks that travellers respect signage, take only photographs and leave no litter or graffiti behind, even if others have done so. Do not attempt to bring home any rocks or stones or other souvenirs of the location and don’t purchase such items from vendors as this can encourage the ongoing destruction of local areas of interest.
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B. Local Operators and Suppliers
B.1 Building and maintaining relationships / local consultation
With more than 23 years operating tours in Latin America, Tucan Travel has built longstanding and successful relationships with business partners in the continent. Our continuing success as a business lies in our support of local communities who have made us welcome and this policy extends now to destinations worldwide as Tucan Travel continue to expand and grow. Our commitment to supporting local businesses means that these operators continue to prosper and empowers local people, leading to increased confidence and development of their products and services.
When designing new tours, Tucan Travel often consult and request advice from local operators to ensure our proposals are realistic. Tucan Travel is highly selective of local associates and aims to approach only those who share its positive and long-term developmental outlook. Tucan Travel is committed to being honest about the impacts our products may have on local lifestyles and communities. We ensure they are happy to have our products in their areas and do not impose developments if they are unwanted.
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B.2 Local guides and local representatives
Tucan Travel has always used local operators, representatives and specialist guides. Nearly 100% of the specialist guides* employed by Tucan Travel are locally sourced. This ensures knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff, thorough guiding and support of local individuals and businesses.
Our close relationships with local companies allow us to put more money back into the local economies. It also allows clients to gain greater insight into the local customs and traditions through their contact with our local operators. On certain tours the specialist knowledge of guides is invaluable, such as in the Amazon Jungle and on treks to Machu Picchu in Latin America. We also work with guides in national parks in India and various countries in Africa, and Egyptologists in Egypt, so clients can learn more about the Pyramids and Sphinx, for example.
Tucan Travel will endeavour to ensure that local partners are employed under fair conditions, are paid a living wage for reasonable hours and are given adequate support by our operations team and tour staff. Tucan Travel has a specific policy in place to protect the rights and conditions of porters on the Inca Trail.
*Specialist guides for local attractions, treks and other special excursions. Please note that Local Guides are not the same as Tour Leaders.
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B.3 Local accommodation
Tucan Travel offers travellers many opportunities to stay in homestay accommodation. This is a win-win situation for travellers and local people alike, as travellers experience life in a local community while local people benefit economically and also socially from the cultural exchange.
As an example, on Amantani Island Tucan travellers stay with local people in their homes. Passengers bring along gifts of rice and home staple goods like fabrics which supplement the income of their hosts. In Mongolia Tucan Travellers have the opportunity to stay in a traditional ger with local nomads and sleep under the starry desert skies. Travellers may exchange stories, songs and sometimes even recipes with their hosts, who will cook a traditional meal for the guests.
At Tucan Travel we feel that travelling to foreign countries provides a chance to experience new cultures and interact with new people. It is not an opportunity for us to impose our culture upon others. We encourage clients to be sensitive to the host culture through preserving and encouraging cultural and social diversity. We discourage the display of traditional or cultural ‘shows’ for commercial purposes. As enjoyable as they can be for clients, we are attempting to keep local culture and tradition genuine rather than encouraging it to be used as a commercial attraction.
Our programs on Lake Titicaca and Amantani Island present a prime example of efforts to lessen the commercialisation of popular tourism sites. We aim to retain tradition and culture and as such, possess a strong stance against commercial development of the area. Tucan Travel utilises the boating facilities local to the area. Although this means our trips to and from the islands take longer than were we to use commercial vessels, it supports the local businesses and encourages the further development of construction skills.
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B.4 Local food and restaurants
When on tour we encourage clients to eat at locally-owned restaurants rather than global multinational companies which they’re familiar with at home. As well as providing clients with a more authentic experience of local cuisine and culture, this supports local businesses and maintain their traditions in terms of cuisine and cooking methods which are in danger of being lost in some countries.
On Adventure Tours, Overland Tours and Bex where food is provided, Tucan Travel aims to purchase high-quality fresh food from local markets where possible. Our commitment to supporting local businesses means that these companies continue to prosper and develop their products and services.
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B.5 Local excursions and adventure activities
Optional excursions are often an exciting part of a journey with Tucan Travel. We look for activities which will suit our clients’ varied tastes and budgets, while supporting local operators and putting money back into local economies.
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Tucan Travel recognises that it is not only on-location staff who have environmental responsibilities but also our administration staff in our offices around the world. Our offices endeavor to be environmentally sound through practicing energy conservation, implementing recycling plans, and being responsible for the surrounding physical environment.
Tucan Travel believes in leading through example and operates in this manner to encourage other businesses and individuals we’re in contact with to be considerate of the environment.
In our offices we separate paper, cardboard, plastics and metal cans for recycling. We estimate that this practice reduces our contribution to landfill by approximately 55% across the company.
Land and office space
- Tucan Travel only leases the office space necessary for company needs and maximises the use of the space available
- We try to keep our offices clean, tidy and comfortable to facilitate a good working environment for all staff
- Tucan Travel does not lease extra unnecessary space for high street shops or corporate offices
- Tucan Travel is committed to recycling 100% of our used paper and cardboard
- Tucan Travel stores most data electronically rather than on paper printouts
- Clients and agents can book online – paper booking forms are not required
- All tour dossiers and other pre-departure information is emailed to clients, which reduces paper usage
- An interactive online brochure is available to view, further reducing the number of paper brochures required
- Print brochures and promotional materials are made using paper from renewable sources and all used or surplus materials are recycled
- The blank sides of waste printer paper are re-used as note pads and we avoid buying new note pads as much as possible
- We do not print documents or emails unnecessarily
- Where photocopying is necessary we try to print on both sides of the page
- We purchase stationery made of recycled materials wherever possible
- We purchase toilet paper and paper towels made of recycled materials or materials from renewable/sustainable sources wherever possible
Electricity and technology
- We try to source computers, desk phones, photocopiers, printers and fax machines (plus fridges, kettles and other kitchen equipment) which have been proven to use electricity efficiently and have energy saving functions
- When equipment is due to be replaced, old computers are sold-on to be reused or are recycled – they are not sent direct to landfill
- We turn off all appliances overnight (except necessary servers)
- We use energy efficient strip lighting wherever possible and encourage staff to turn lights off when natural light is sufficient in a room
- We recycle printer cartridges and purchase recycled cartridges where possible
- We buy rechargeable batteries rather than disposable ones
- We minimise the use of disposable CDs and recycle old mobile phones, CDs, old and foreign coins and currency
- Maintain the air conditioning / heating at optimal temperatures for the comfort of staff and energy efficiency
- Staff are provided with warm branded fleece for winter
- The use of air conditioning and heating is on staff agreement only and is turned this off at night and during weekends
- Most of our staff are quite active and live relatively close to the office
- Staff are encouraged to walk, cycle or take public transport to work, or work from home where appropriate.
- Leased cars are well maintained in order to reduce emissions and are only for very necessary business
- We try to carpool wherever possible for events or use public transport
- We only boil the amount of water needed for a cup of tea, or boil a whole jug and make tea for everyone
- Staff are asked not to wash dishes under running taps, plug the sink instead
- Water savers are installed in our toilets
- We try to purchase environmentally-friendly biodegradable cleaning products where possible in order to reduce pollution
- We are careful not to flush non-human waste (apart from paper) down the toilets
- The Tucan Travel Responsible Travel policy is included in induction materials for new staff
- All staff are made aware of the reason for recycling and are asked to recycle all waste paper, cardboard, cans and plastics
- Staff are reminded to turn off computers and appliances, air conditioning/heating and lights at night