As a visitor to a foreign country, we inevitably leave our mark. At YellowWood Adventures, we are determined that this ‘mark’ will be a positive one. Tourism is not always beneficial and we are conscious of treading lightly in the lands we explore.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) recognises that ‘Tourism transformation must start today’: ‘it is a Global Responsibility’. Tourism benefits people and societies, raises awareness and fosters positive change but there needs to be a disconnect from the unthinking use of resources (both in terms of travel and within the destination country) and the attitude of ‘I am just visiting, this isn’t my problem’.
We recognise the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals that will help us all achieve a better and more sustainable future:
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good Health & Well Being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water & Sanitation
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Decent Work & Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
- Reduced Inequalities
- Sustainable Cities & Communites
- Responsible Consumption & Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Life on Land
- Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions
We have made the following commitments to the Economy, Environments and Communities of the countries we visit. We ask that you join us and pledge to follow our ethos whilst travelling with us.
Sustainable Tourism should:
Ensure viable long term economic operations, fairly distributing economic benefits, and contributing to poverty alleviation.
We stay local, using local service providers and generating income for locals. These services vary greatly but may include;
- locally-owned hotels,
- local mountain guides,
- home-owners/families who show us traditional customs/cooking/ceremonies,
- dancers & musicians,
- farmers who can provide meat/produce for meals
Our clients and YWA guides are encouraged to tip generously when they receive a good service, generating income that goes directly to the person who earned it.
We heavily discourage our clients from giving money to beggars, especially children, as it encourages more begging and does not promote the concept of earning money through meaningful work.
We actively encourage the purchasing of locally sourced and made goods/souvenirs.
Please read on for how you may be able to further contribute or offer positive and sustainable support to individuals in the communities and regions we visit.
Sustainable Tourism should:
Make optimal use of environmental resources, maintain essential ecological processes and conserve natural heritage and biodiversity
The greatest environmental damage caused by our adventures is additional carbon dioxide created from international flights to the destination countries. YWA therefore plants 15 trees for every person who uses international flights, via the tree-planting charity WeForest. They also successfully create sustainable livelihoods for local people, including in Ethiopia and the Amazon.
We brief our clients in the best environmental practises on all of our trips with the policy of ‘Take nothing but memories, Leave nothing but footprints’. We do not leave any foreign materials or waste in the natural environments we travel through, as we walk, ride or camp. Nor do we take any objects from the environment, nor disturb its equilibrium by our presence or actions. We do not approach wild animals that may then be forced to fight/flee, which can cause them or our clients injury for example.
Wherever possible we will opt to stay in eco-lodges who have responsible waste management and recycling policies, such as the following:
- Martin Abad Eco Lodge in Iran: https://matinabad.com/en
- Bale Mountains Eco Lodge in Ethiopia: http://www.balemountainlodge.com/eco.html
We recommend use of reusable Water filtration bottles during our adventures, to ensure a clean and hygienic water supply, and to reduce the use of plastic water bottles. Please see the unique discounted offer on Aquapure Traveller bottles from Pure Hydration available to YellowWood travellers.
Sustainable Tourism should:
Respect the socio cultural authenticity of host communities, their living cultural heritage and traditional values, as well as contributing to inter-cultural understanding & tolerance.
As our local guides are from the countries (and often the specific regions) we operate in, they speak both fluent English and the language of the region, and so always explain the cultural necessities to our clients in order not to offend, confuse or endanger the communities we travel through. These may include how to greet host families, tips for sharing meals, when it is ok to take a photograph or haggle at the market, and customs regarding appropriate clothing.
Less obvious include not passing close to a ger in Mongolia or a yurt in Kyrgyzstan without loudly informing the occupants first; failure to do this means the group or a client can be attacked by the guard dogs and will cause great discomfort and embarrassment to the occupants and possible injury to the dogs which then have to be forcibly restrained when they were only doing their job.
Women travelling in Iran must have their heads covered in public at all times whereas in Ethiopia it is very offensive to wear a hat when entering a church for a man.
In Ethiopia it is very offensive to eat food with your left hand, as this is traditionally the hand used to clean yourself after you go to the toilet; to do this in a local person’s house from a shared plate of food would be one of the most offensive things you could possibly do to them.
Similarly in Mongolia if you were to throw a piece of plastic into the fire in the middle of a ger you would be seen to disrespect the god of the fire and therefore the hospitality of the family you were staying with.
Sustainable Tourism should:
Maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience to the tourists, raising their awareness about sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices amongst them.
Many of our adventurers have talked to us about how best to support those experiencing poverty or with very little access to equipment and services. They ask what they can bring to donate or leave in country after their trip.
Our response has been to develop links with well established local projects and charitable organisations that are sustainably benefitting the regions and communities that we visit. We include in our itineraries, an opportunity to learn about and visit these groups. With the help of our ‘in country’ teams, we have vetted these organisations. We check to ensure they are legitimate, carrying out sustainable works where we can see and learn about the benefits, and where the long term effects will be felt in the areas we travel to.
The benefits to you as a traveller
- A better understanding of the politics and culture, of the countries we visit, through an interaction with local charity workers and those receiving support.
- More than a ‘tourists view’ of the region or country, with the chance to ‘give’ as well as ‘take’.
- Making travel worthwhile and balancing negative side effects of long haul travel; The growing trend for responsible travellers is to visit a distant destination for a longer duration and to make it count.
- An entirely optional opportunity to make a financial or practical donation
How it works
- Each adventure is linked to a local charity that ties in with the adventure itinerary. See your Adventure Pack for details.
- Some charities will benefit from the provision of equipment (such as study tools) that you can take with you on your adventure. Where this is the case, we will let you know what types of equipment are needed in the area you are visiting, should you want to contribute.
- Your adventure itinerary will include an optional visit or talk by a representative of the charity to learn about the issues at hand, and what opportunities there are to help. This will usually be towards the end of your adventure. See your Adventure Pack for details.
- Should you wish to make a donation during or after your holiday, we will put you in direct contact with the charity – YellowWood Adventures will not handle any monies related to donations.
- Financial donations are entirely optional. You will not be asked to share with YellowWood or any fellow Adventurers, any details of your decisions in relation to a potential donation.
- We will not share your personal details or contact details with any charitable organisation without your direct permission in writing (via email)
How we Choose who to Support
We have initially chosen to work with charities where our founder Sam, has had direct experience of their work during his travels, or where we have felt that the cause is one that is important to the regions you will journey through. We understand that there are many, many worthy causes, but we want above all to approach this in a realistic and achievable manner which necessitates gentle first steps.
YWA will only be involved in projects where we know we are making a positive, lasting and meaningful difference.