One of our main goals as a company is to help preserve and protect the remaining natural places in our destination countries. When it comes to the environment, tourism can be either part of the problem or part of the solution, and we strive to promote the type of travel that is part of the solution: small scale, low impact tourism that is respectful of local cultures and the local environment.
These are complicated issues, and we don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we are committed to doing business in a way that actually encourages and promotes the preservation of the natural environment. Practiced correctly, this is really what ecotourism is all about. The planning and execution of one of our trips involves a long supply chain: from local guides and operators to transportation providers to hotels and restaurants, we interact with a lot of different organizations on the ground.
One of the most important things we can do to live up to our own sustainability standards is to work with properties and outfitters who also take their environmental responsibility seriously. We seek out suppliers with a strong commitment to sustainability, often certified by international organizations such as the Rainforest Alliance (which we are now partnered with), Conservation International (which has helped develop pioneering ecotourism projects in the Amazon such as Posada Amazonas, which we in turn actively support by sending our travelers), and the International Organization for Standardization (one of our main outfitters was the first South American outfitter ever certified at the highest level by the IOS, demonstrating an exceptional commitment to the environment).
It’s also important in this business to know what to avoid. We do not promote tours, such as land-based tours in the Galapagos, that could be profitable but which are a step in the wrong direction in terms of sustainability. We don’t promote the type of large-scale, resort-style tourism that can overwhelm local culture and change entire existing landscapes. We promote low impact, small scale tourism that is respectful of local cultures and the local environment. We don’t just talk the talk, and we’ve been active over the years in supporting conservation and community-based efforts in the places we visit, raising over $50,000 for a variety of worthy non-profit organizations. In addition to environmental concerns, we strive to contribute to and support local communities in meaningful ways, and are actively involved in a variety of initiatives (such as micro-loans) that give back to the people that make our trips so special.
Here are some of the organizations we support and are involved with:
Rainforest Alliance A nonprofit organization that strives to standardize and enforce sustainable tourism practices throughout the supply chain.
Pro Mujer A microfinance organization dedicated to helping women break the cycle of poverty and improve the lives of their families and communities.
International Galapagos Tour Operators Association A nonprofit organization focused on protecting the fragile Galapagos Islands ecosystems while improving education and opportunities for the people who live there. The organization raises tens of thousands of dollars a year that are then directed to effective conservation and education projects in the Galapagos. Our founder is on the Board of Directors of this organization.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please let us know. We are always looking for ways to more effectively manage our environmental and social impact and welcome your input.