Date of approval: June 2020
Our company is committed to ensuring excursions are organized sustainably.
One of the most visible aspects of our company’s sustainability to our clients can be found in the arrangement of excursions. Hence, our company takes care of developing and executing excursions in a fully sustainable manner. We will give strong preference to destinations that follow sustainable practices throughout all aspects of their tourism offer and see it as our role to guide destinations towards this.
Wherever possible, all staff will pursue the following goals and adhere to the specified principles when involved in organizing excursions.
This policy will be part of the Sustainability Policy. The policy is applicable to the excursion activities conducted by our company and all employees will follow these guidelines disclosed in this document.
This policy is effective immediately after approval by Managing Director and circulation to staff. The policy will be formally reviewed every 2 years to ensure its relevancy. The Managing Director or an officer delegated with such authority must approve any deviations to this policy.
Sustainable Excursion Principles
Our sustainable approach to sensitive places and cultures is primarily based on following principles:
- Positive excursions
Our company will ensure excursions take place in the most positive way possible and to the best benefit of local people and cultural and natural heritage. We will avoid excursions that harm humans, animals, plants, natural resources (e.g. water/energy), or which are socially/culturally unacceptable.
2. Fair excursions
The excursion activities of our company are in compliance with legally based spatial planning, protected area and heritage regulations and destination management strategies of local, regional and national authorities. The excursions also fully respect human rights and child protection.
- Human-biodiversity connect
In applying a sustainable development perspective we should recognize the close links and interdependence of biological diversity and local cultures within the socio-ecological systems of many protected and culturally important places. This means any activity aiming to achieve sustainable development will necessarily have to take into consideration the interrelationship of biological diversity with the local cultural context.
General Sustainability Considerations
Keralavoyages considers the following important general elements of sustainability in excursions:
- Where available, preference is given to excursions that are operated on the basis of acknowledged and controlled sustainability standards.
- We encourage our staff to take an active interest in sustainable tourism and we do guide them accordingly so they can put it in practice.
Sensitivity to cultural heritage
- In sensitive cultural sites (e.g. indigenous villages), heritage sites or ecologically sensitive destinations, skilled and certified guides will guide our guests.
- The company intends to include into packages and promote to clients excursions and activities that directly involve and support local communities. For example by purchasing services or goods, traditional crafts and local (food) production methods, and visiting social projects.
- Our company supports initiatives that improve the relationships between accommodations and local producers, among which the production and distribution of local food products and souvenirs etc. (e.g. initiatives to improve quality level, logistics, transport)
Sensitivity to natural heritage
- The company intends to include into packages or promote to clients, excursions and activities that support local environment and biodiversity (e.g. visiting protected areas, environmental protection projects).
- Our company will ensure operation of excursions within national and local sustainability standards. All the national parks and conservation areas in India are managed with a controlled sustainability standard by the respective regional forest authorities and wildlife wardens. We ensure that our clients are aware of and comply with relevant rules and regulations.
- Any disturbance of natural ecosystems is minimized, rehabilitated, and there is a compensatory contribution to conservation management.
- Our company supports environmental and biodiversity protectionby paying the permit / entrance fee to national parks and conservation areas. Where possible, we will provide other means of support.
Sensitivity to animals
- Our company does not offer excursions and attractions in which captive wildlife is held, except for properly regulated activities in compliance with local, national and international law. In case of living specimens of protected and wildlife species these are only kept by those authorized and suitably equipped to house and care for them humanely.
- Excursions that include interactions with wildlife comply with relevant (e.g. Travelife) codes of conduct. Taking into account cumulative impacts, they do not lead to any adverse effects on the viability and behavior of populations in the wild.
- Wildlife species are not harvested, consumed, displayed, sold, or traded, except as part of a regulated activity that ensures that their utilization is sustainable and in compliance with local, national and international law.
Preference for local tour leaders
- Key tour leaders, local representatives and guides, contracted by the company, are appropriately qualified and are trained regularly.
- Tour leaders, local representatives and guides are informed on the relevant aspects of the companies´ sustainability policy and are expected to comply with it.
- We acknowledge local tour leaders for their destination knowledge and we encourage them to enhance this by offering them guidance and training on sustainability and the destination.
- Tour leaders, local representatives and guides inform clients on relevant sustainability matters in the destination (e.g. protection of flora, fauna, and cultural heritage, resource use), social norms and values (e.g. tips, dressing code and photography) and human rights (e.g. sexual exploitation).
Sustainable Trekking/Hiking Excursions
One of the key excursion types in India, trekking takes place in our vulnerable mountain ecosystem and it is our duty to help conserve this. Hence, for trekking excursions, our company has put in place some specific sustainability practices.
As much as possible, we follow the “Leave No Trace” principles:
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.
Beyond these, we follow these practices to ensure our clients have a safe and sustainable trekking experience:
- Trained guides who can help our clients follow these sustainability practices.
- We ensure a proper waste management on our trek/hike
- Where possible, we encourage our clients to use local toilets.
- Max load of porters is in accordance with national regulations (15 kg for female porters, 20 kg for male porters)
- Trekking staff is provided with appropriate clothing and other necessary equipment (e.g. proper walking boots, sunglasses, gloves, hats, etc.)
- Trekking staff is provided with appropriate lodging and food. Access to tents where necessary.
Sustainability through a long-term perspective
We aim to achieve sustainability across all excursions and destinations in Indiathrough a long-term perspective. In our effort:
- We communicateour sustainability objectives and requirements to our excursion providers, equipment providers and destination representatives.
- Where contracts with suppliers are in place, basic sustainability clause(s) are included (e.g. child labor, anti-corruption and bribery, waste management and protection of biodiversity).
- Providers for sensitive excursions or activities, which are integrated into packages or offered through local partners, receive and implement documented guidelines and/or codes of conduct in order to minimize negative visitor impact and maximize enjoyment. The guidelines are developed with the collaboration and consent of relevant NGO’s and the affected community.
Our company gives preference to destinations, which clearly pursue sustainability elements. In India, some of the mass tourism destinations are becoming better at this (e.g. In Periyar, the local DMO , TDPC has initiatives on recycling of plastic and all member business houses are strictly advised not to use single use plastic.)
Our company follows these practices when selecting new destinations:
- In selecting new destinations the accessibility through more sustainable means of transport is considered.
- Sustainability aspects in destinations are considered in the selection process of new destinations (e.g. traffic-free areas, sustainable city planning, proper waste management infrastructure and community participation). Possibly alternative non-mainstream destinations are offered.
- Destinations in which tourism leads to structural negative local effects in terms of biodiversity, waste; sanitation; human rights and healthcare, water, energy and food availability are not selected (unless the company’s involvement results in clear counter balancing effects).
Sensitive Excursions Checklist
Our company has made an inventory of environmentally or culturally sensitive excursions, which are offered across India. The below table indicates which sensitive excursion types we offer, and if their organization involves third party.
In our execution of these excursions we are well aware of our behavior and aim to do so as sustainably as possible and with utmost care for the site.
Do’s and Don’t for Tourists
We encourage all tourists to respect Indian culture and nature and we recommend the following practices:
- Always travel through a professional Tour Operator
- Demand for detailed travel itinerary with clear inclusions
- Travel with a valid visa for the period you are in India
- Communicate with your Local Tour Operator for any special assistance or attention
- Avail Mobile connections for tourists, if needed, at arrival airports. You can’t get a sim activated if you buy outside the Arrival Airport
- Change your currencies at authorised centres only
- If you wish to withdraw money from ATM machines, using an International Debit/Credit Card, please opt for an ATM in a major city attached to a bank branch
- Approach Local Police or Tourist Police for any assistance in time of need
- If you opt to stay overnight on a Houseboat, please insist for a licensed Houseboat Operator
- Always take care of your personal belongings and valuables
- Ask your driver to lock the car when you keep your valuables inside the car and go out for a meal or snack
- Ensure that you have a local Tour Operator who is an accredited agency
- Use only licensed guides for sightseeing
- While doing adventure tours like trekking etc. go with an expert
- Feel free to ask for any kind of clarifications to your agent before you land in India
- Understand the local culture regarding dressing etc especially during visits to religious centres.
- Take the advice of your guide/driver regarding the daily visits where you may have to remove your shoes, follow a particular dress pattern etc.
- Always carry your departure flight ticket copy in print or on mobile for entering any airports in India.