Our Policies + Commitments

Our Policies + Commitments

We believe the travel industry has a responsibility to take care of the people and places of travel.

In every Tourism Cares program, we work to ensure that we are engaging with our local hosts, the environment, and the greater travel industry in a respectful, inclusive, and responsible way.

Our Policies:

Our Commitments:

We welcome all.

ALL are welcome to attend Tourism Cares events and/or engage in our programs regardless of age, race, ethnicity, ability, gender, sexuality or religion. We approach every event with accessibility and inclusivity in mind, ensuring that we are proactive in everyone’s ability to participate.

We involve local stakeholders.

We commit to approaching local communities in a way that elevates the local voice and respects their vision of tourism. We encourage full, effective and equitable participation and treat community partners as equal program partners.

We will respect the environment and consume responsibly .

In every place we work, we will focus on treading lightly. We commit to respecting local laws and environmental guidelines, limiting use and purchase of single- use plastics, opting for reusable and sustainable products wherever possible, and cleanup of all waste, making sure to compost and recycle when available.

We will remember that we are guests.

Tourism Cares will support respectful visitor-host interactions that foster responsible tourism practices, benefitting the well-being of the culture and environment.

We prioritize sustainable product procurement.

Tourism Cares commits to working with partners who share our commitment to conducting business in a sustainable manner. Partners who are creating change through their businesses, supporting others (whether it be their own employees, the local community, or more global causes), creating more positive than negative impact on the environment and treating their employees in an ethical manner are core values Tourism Cares considered when choosing a supplier.

We strive to ensure we use sustainable materials that have low impact on the environment and support organizations that promote safe and equitable labor practices. We will limit waste by paying close attention to needed inventory and ensure the item provides added value and a long shelf-life.

Tourism Cares also pledges to minimize (and eliminate if possible) the use of single use plastics at all hosted programs and events, within the Tourism Cares office and during staff travel.

We commit to sustainable food practices.

Nearly 1/3 of all the food produced in the world goes to waste and is responsible for 8% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. Tourism Cares recognizes the importance sustainable food practices play in the health of a community and the health of our planet. We are committed to reducing the negative impact of food by executing sustainable food practices at all of our hosted programs.

All meals hosted by Tourism Cares will focus on the following items whenever possible:

Sourcing local and seasonal food

Supporting local famers, producers, venues and caterers to empower the local community

Including plant-based menu options

Reducing food waste through donation and recycling programs

Adhering to a strict attendance policy to provide an accurate count of guests to prevent over ordering

Providing proper recycling and composting receptacles with accurate signage onsite

We will reduce our footprint.

Tourism Cares is committed to the ongoing task of assessing and reducing carbon emissions. Tourism is responsible for 8% of the world’s carbon emissions (source STI). Tourism Cares tracks and offsets carbon emissions in an effort to become carbon neutral with South Pole.

We abide by ChildSafe and Animal Welfare standards.

All of our participating partners and vendors MUST abide byChildSafe’s 7 Tips and not promote the sale of excursions or tourist activities that include visits to orphanages or institutions for childcare.

Additionally, all participating partners and vendors MUST not promote the sale of excursions or tourist activities that includes animals in captivity. In general, no on-site animals in captivity is acceptable, anywhere.

We prioritize safety, always.

The health and safety of our staff and community is our top priority at all times. We will always work to ensure safe conditions for our staff, attendees, community members and partners within our office, during work related travel and onsite at our programs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking added measures to ensure our staff and community are safe. This includes remote working and new safety protocols for our staff as well as inviting open conversations about mental health. We are regularly assessing travel conditions and connecting with local partners on guidelines for in person gatherings and programs and will keep our community updated on all currently scheduled programs.

We need your commitment.

Our commitments to you and the places we serve are foundational for Tourism Cares. But we need your participation. We ask that you make a pledge when joining a Tourism Cares program – whether in person or virtually.

We ask you to pledge to travel with meaning:

Do your homework

Take time to understand the values and customs of your host community before arriving .

Arrive with the intention to learn

Travel with an open mind and the intent to learn about the culture, history, challenges and innovations, of the host community .

Leave with the intention to share

Take what you have learned to expand your perspective on the world and share these insights with your friends, family and your travel industry colleagues .

Support the local community whenever possible

Spend your time and money on locally owned businesses as much as possible .

Respect the environment and leave no trace

Tread lightly on the environment, respect local laws and environmental guidelines, limit use and purchase of single use plastics and cleanup all waste, making sure to compost and recycle when available .

Create only positive impacts

Do not support local organizations or activities that may cause harm to the community or environment (especially children or animals.)

Animal Welfare Policy

Tourism Cares wants to help ensure the protection and respect of animals across the tourism value chain. We hold ourselves to a high standard in our partnerships, including with the organizational profiles we add to the Meaningful Travel Map, partners who are speakers or volunteer hosts for our Summits, etc. This is a complex topic and we relied on the research and best practices of other organizations in putting together our policy, including World Animal Protection, Four Paws, Animondial, and the ABTA Animal Welfare Guidelines.

Animals in Captive Environments

Animals, both wild and domesticated, kept, owned or managed by people.

Organizations with captive wild species: Tourism Cares will not patronize or promote organizations that display wild animals to the public unless they operate as non-profits and meet all five of the following qualifications, plus the below list of welfare standards:

Does not breed animals unless they are being released into the wild.

Does not engage in the commercial trade of animals or animal parts.

Does not force animals to perform unnatural acts (like rides, shows and tricks) or to interact with people but instead lets the animals behave naturally.

Does not keep wild animals as pets or for entertainment. Actively discourages the keeping of wild animals as pets and for entertainment to visitors.

Does not take in more animals than it can take care of humanely.

Welfare standards for wild and domesticated species in captivity: These welfare standards must be met with all animals in captivity:

Diet: Animals should have access to clean, fresh drinking water as needed and be provided with a nutritious and varied diet that is appropriate for the species.

Enclosures: Enclosures allow for movement and free exercise and for a sufficient distance from other animals. Enclosures should be well-maintained and environmentally complex, including natural substrate, furniture, shelter and environmental enrichment. All animals should be able to seek shelter from extreme weather conditions and privacy from view.

Feeding: No feeding of wild animals by the public. Controlled feeding of domesticated species is possible under the right circumstances. If the supplier permits controlled feeding of animals, preventative measures should be in place to minimize the potential of disease transmission, to ensure public safety, and to avoid competition between animals. The supplier should provide appropriate food to the public (no outside food), and carefully supervise its distribution to animals.

Animal handling: No public handling and touching of wild species in captivity. If it is permitted to handle domesticated species, it should be under the supervision of a qualified person and preventative measures should be taken to prevent disease transfer (zoonosis) between the public and the animals and injury. Handling of all animals should be done as expeditiously and carefully as possible in a manner that does not cause trauma, overheating, excessive cooling, behavioral stress, physical harm, or unnecessary discomfort. Animals cannot be modified or sedated and must have the choice to move away.

Photos/Selfies: Animals should not be used in photographic sessions where the animal is manipulated, sedated or forcibly held. This activity should only be considered when there is a clear public educational value, where there is no commercial gain, where animals have the choice of whether or not to participate, where the animals are provided with high standards of welfare and where such well supervised activities only happen for short periods of time.

Performances: Wild species should not perform. Where domesticated species are involved in performances, these should only involve natural behaviors. Training methods should be based only on positive reinforcement.

Cetaceans: Tourism Cares will not patronize or promote organizations with cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises) in captivity.

Animals used in a working capacity

These minimum standards apply to domesticated animals that perform jobs. Examples include dogs, horses, donkeys, camels.

Apply all Captive Animal standards re: Diet, Enclosures, and Feeding.

Tethering (tying) and hobbling (tying legs together or legs to neck) should be avoided. If tethering is used, the animals should be able to walk, lie down and stand without tension.

Disqualified: Young, pregnant, nursing, injured, ill, distressed or elderly animals should not be ridden or required to carry/pull loads.

Workload: Animals should train and work within their physical capabilities. Loads should match the animal’s size and ability. Regular rest should be given.

Equipment: Equipment should fit, not causing injury, and should be cleaned and dried after use.

Riding horses, donkeys and camels: Max one person per animal. When the animal is pulling a carriage/cart, there should be no more than one person per wheel unless there is more than one animal. Ensure driving is calm, no harsh stops, racing, jerking of the reins, beating or whipping. Animals should be walked slowly and patiently over difficult terrain, such as stone or hard surfaces, and up or down steep hills. Animals should not be worked during the hottest part of the day when heat is detrimental to animal health, and must receive regular rests, where equipment is removed when possible, even if tied.

Dogs: Ensure the dogs have regular rest time with access to clean drinking water. Dogs should have regular veterinary assessment, particularly the length of their nails, size of their collars, paws, joints and body condition and should be in good health. Mushers must be experienced enough to be able to sufficiently control the dogs. Poor driving styles and animal handling practices including jerking of reins, harsh stops and direction changes and whipping is evidence of bad welfare. Dogs should not be worked beyond their willingness or capability. When at rest, dogs must have an opportunity to interact and play with other dogs, toys and humans.

No wild animal species should be used in a working capacity.

Animals in wild environments

These standards apply to wildlife in natural habits including safari, rainforest walks, national parks, whale watching, etc.

Contact/Handling/Feeding: No human-initiated direct contact with and/or feeding of free-roaming animals, including whales and dolphins.

Collection: No animal and plant collection from the wild by tourists.

Guides: Guides should be able to identify the wildlife species in the natural environment being visited and are sufficiently knowledgeable of their biology and behavior. Guides should also be knowledgeable about the location(s) where the viewing takes place. Guides should accompany customers at all time.

Rules of engagement: When viewing wild animals, sufficient space must be maintained between the wildlife and people to allow the animal(s) to have the opportunity to express natural behaviors undisturbed and have sufficient space to seek refuge or leave the vicinity. Encroachment is likely to cause disturbance and/or a defensive reaction. Withdrawing animals must not be pursued. Let the animals decide how close they want to be. Acceptable viewing distances vary with species and habitat. At a minimum, local policies should be followed.

Cetacean interactions (whale watching, swimming with wild dolphins, etc.) should follow practices recommended by World Cetacean Alliance, found here.

No involvement in sport or commercial hunting or trapping. (Some exceptions to this may be made – if this is the only problem with our policy, please contact us [email protected])

No trade and sale of endangered wildlife products (this is also usually illegal). For further guidance, refer to the WTTC Document “Preventing Illegal Wildlife Trade”.

Items for Sale or Given as Gifts

These standards apply to organizations distributing non-food items produced from animal parts

Organization does not sell items made with or from the following: Endangered species, ivory, coral, shells, teeth (sharks), tortoise or turtle shells, reptile skins, furs. (Some exceptions to this may be made for Indigenous Peoples– if this is the only problem with our policy, please contact us [email protected]). For further guidance, refer to the WTTC Document “Preventing Illegal Wildlife Trade”.

Resources: Tourism Cares provides guidance and training materials to our members so that they have the tools to adopt and enact policies. We have animal welfare training in our Meaningful Travel Platform , which is available to members. Introductory material is there now and a dedicated chapter will be released later in 2022). Some animal welfare partner resources are available in the Resources section, available to all. The ABTA Animal Welfare Guidelines are available in short version here but the longer version is closed to their members. ATTA and Animondial have partnered on a training course covering animal welfare, Nature Positive Tourism and other topics, called “Protecting Animals & Nature in Adventure Travel”, which we recommend.

Child Welfare

Children are not tourist attractions – let’s not treat them like they are.

Children living or studying in schools, orphanages or slums shouldn’t be exposed to tourist visits. These places are not zoos. Put child protection first and do not visit these places.

Volunteering with children feels good but could be harmful – look for better ways to help them.

Working with children in institutions such as orphanages is a job for local experts, not for travelers who are just passing through. Children deserve more than good intentions: they deserve experienced and skilled caretakers and teachers who know the local culture and language.

Make sure your volunteering is a great experience and has the best impact possible. Do not work directly with children; instead, share your professional skills with local staff. You can also explore other ways to put your talents to use.

Children pay a price for your generosity – don’t give to begging children.

When you give money, food or gifts to begging children, you encourage them to continue begging, which prevents them from going to school and locks them into a cycle of poverty.

There are better ways to support children and youth: use businesses with a social impact, such as training restaurants and shops, or donate to organizations supporting children and their families.

Professionals know best – call them if a child needs help.

Helping children directly can cause problems because you don’t know the local culture and laws. For instance, never take a child back to your hotel room – it’s dangerous for both you and the child.

When you see a child in need, the best thing to do is to contact local professionals. Call a child protection hotline, contact a local organization or call the police. You won’t bother anyone – it is their job to check and help. Just call. You could save their life and give them a first chance to build their future

Sex with children is a crime – report child sex tourism.

Sex tourism involving children is a devastating reality. It happens in hotels, in bars, etc. You may also be offered to have sex with children. Travel ChildSafe – When you see such a situation, don’t put yourself at risk. Call a child protection hotline, contact a local organization or call the police so immediate action can be taken to protect the child and investigate the situation.

Children should not be at work instead of school – report child labor.

Some children sell goods at tourist sites or offer their services as guides. Others are hired in tourism businesses like hotels or restaurants, and this is a problem when it hurts their education and development.

Do not buy goods or use services offered by children. If you think that a business employs underage children and prevents them from going to school, call a child protection hotline, contact a local organization or call the police. They will check the child’s situation – many children are just helping out their parents after school, but some may be exploited.

Protect children – be a ChildSafe traveler.

ChildSafe raises awareness about how you can help children during your trip. It also trains and certifies many businesses in the tourism industry (such as hotels, travel agencies, restaurants, and taxi services) to actively protect children.

Use ChildSafe-certified businesses when planning and throughout your trip to avoid being involved in harmful situations for children. Every action described in these tips can make a big difference. Join the movement and together, let’s protect children!

Orphanages and Institutions for Childcare

In recognition of the harm caused by institutional care for children (such as so-called ‘orphanages’), and the growing evidence of children being trafficked to and from such institutions, Tourism Cares commits to the following:

1. Actively support causes that strengthen families and build local communities.

2. Ensure that we do not promote or engage in volunteering and/or visits to institutions for children, including products or activities that may facilitate child trafficking in institutions.

3. If relevant, we commit to carefully plan and safely redirect existing support to institutions into alternatives that support families and communities.

4. Educate our customers, staff and board about this organisational stance, and the harms of so- called ‘orphanage tourism’ and institutional care.