HOW WE WORK WITH LOCAL CREW

Where possible and practical, ACE seeks to use locally owned and operated suppliers and employ local people as leaders and crew to operate our tours.

We believe and try to ensure that our suppliers and local crew are:

  • provided with health and safety training for the job they do, have a clean and safe working environment and not be involved dangerous practices in carrying out their job.
  • not given an unreasonable workload. Working hours should be reasonable, safe, within local regulations and overtime should be the choice of the employee.
  • provided with understandable and acceptable information about their employment, conditions and wages.
  • paid at least the national minimum wage or industry standard wage on an agreed timescale.
  • tipped fairly and appropriately for their efforts. Tips should not be an excuse for low pay.
  • not discriminated against for reasons of race, colour, gender or religion.
  • not disciplined by harsh means or financial penalty
  • treated as equals socially. Where the crew work with or accompany the group, our tour leaders encourage interaction, whilst respecting the individual’s wishes for privacy
  • given practical support by our tour leaders

ACE is committed to supporting initiatives which improve working practice and conditions such as the International Porter Protection Group guidelines and the work or Tourism Concern in this field.

OUR INTERACTION WITH LOCAL PEOPLE

Key to an ACE tour is the chance to encourage positive interaction with local people, in order to foster mutual respect and understanding and be an economic benefit to the local people

On our tours we try to:

  • Plan tours in a way which maximises the opportunity to meet local people and learn about the local culture
  • Provide employment for local people by using locally owned and operated services rather than international chains
  • Present talks and discussions on all aspects of the history and culture to present a balanced view of the country
  • Encourage clients and Tour Leaders to dress appropriately to the local norm, even if other visitors do not
  • Brief clients on the significance of local customs, traditions, religion, body language and eating habits in the country visited, so as to foster respect and understanding and avoid causing offence
  • Encourage and initiate contact with local people as much as possible. We prefer to promote cultural exchange through playing games, showing photos and conversation to avoid the awkwardness of the ‘human zoo’. Where there is local contact, learning a few words of the local language can be a great way to make contact.
  • Ask permission before taking photos. We don’t condone giving money for photos as it can encourage a begging culture. In some cases, being photographed is the individual’s income and in such cases it is up to the individual to agree to this BEFORE taking the photo.
  • Discourage giving to beggars. Whilst in many countries some people depend on begging for their livelihood, we regard giving money as a short-term solution to a more fundamental problem. ACE tries to find ways we and our customers can offer more long -term support to the communities visited by supporting local charities and projects.
  • Ensure that gifts customers bring for local people (pens, t-shirts etc) are presented in an appropriate situation – eg to a teacher in a school or in return for hospitality when visiting a local house. We oppose giving directly to children as this may encourage begging and can undermine parents who cannot afford to give their children such items.
  • Be an economic benefit to the communities visited by using a variety of local restaurants, shopping in local markets and buying locally produced goods but also by avoiding any overuse which may deprive locals of goods
  • Advise tour leaders and customers about local bargaining customs and give guidelines to reasonable prices where possible. Neither customers nor Tour Leaders nor crew should haggle too aggressively as their saving may be somebody else’s shortage

OUR IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT

Small groups may ‘leave fewer footprints’ but they still leave footprints! We are aware that wherever we go we are having an impact on the environment. We endeavour to minimise this impact and, where possible, engage in projects and activities that not only make the environment sustainable but contribute to improving it.

As part of responsible tourism policy, we consider our impact on the environment is in many parts of what we do.

Tour planning

  • Tours are planned to visit destinations which are sustainable
  • Group sizes are determined by what is appropriate to the area we are travelling to. Tours involving wildlife visits and walking are often smaller in order to minimise disruption to wildlife and the natural habitat.

Hotels

On tours where hotels are used, we endeavour to;

  • Advise clients to turn a/c, lights, TVs and fans off when not in room and consider not using a/c if possible. TVs should be switched off, not left on stand-by as this uses electricity
  •  Be aware of and work within the limitations of local plumbing! In some places toilet paper and sanitary protection cannot be put down the toilet as the sewage system is not able to cope with non-human waste. Ignoring this could cause a nasty blockage or flood! In these cases we advise clients appropriately and ensure that bins are emptied regularly.
  •  Look out for any hotels that use more sustainable resources – eg hotels with solar panels
  •  Talk to hoteliers about towel washing options and encourage them to introduce a system where clients fold towels for reuse rather than wash every day
  •  Check if hotels recycle any goods and encourage others to adopt the system if it works.

Use of vehicles

  • ACE tries to ensure that vehicles used on tour should not cause more than average pollution
  •  We ask our suppliers to ensure that vehicles are well maintained so they do not cause more pollution
  •  If measures exist to reduce the existing level of pollution (eg by using alternative vehicles, means of transport or public transport), we will always consider this option
  •  Public transport is used in many countries where possible and practical, but care is taken not to take up facilities/seats that may be required by local people
  •  We use a/c only when necessary on vehicles as this uses extra fuel

Use of water

Water should ALWAYS be used sparingly. Even in countries with seemingly ample water supply, energy is used in sewage and clean water processing; overuse could be depleting the water table and causing further pollution. ALL should follow the following policy;

  • Consider taking a shower rather than a bath
  •  Consider whether you really need two showers a day or if one would suffice
  •  Do not leave water to run – use a plug as you generally use less water
  •  Don’t leave the tap running when brushing teeth.

Respecting animal life

Our interactions with animals can be through wildlife viewing, visits to wildlife attractions or through the use of animals for transport.

Wildlife

  • Always respect park laws regarding speed limits, times of driving and off-road driving etc.
  •  Never feed animals / fish. Giving them food other than or additional to what they usually eat is likely to make them ill. If feeding is part of a zoo or other captive animal attraction, be aware that this can be dangerous, transmit disease and be stressful for the animal.
  •  Do not touch wild animals. You may unwittingly pass on disease, distress the animal or put yourself at risk.
  •  Do not pursue animals or separate young from their parents, thus distressing them, for the sake of a photo / better look. Keep an adequate distance. With the exception of primates (5m), precise distance cannot be specified as this depends on many factors and thus judgement should be exercised.
  •  Try to approach animals from the side as not to appear threatening.
  •  Do not approach breeding sites e.g. nests, burrows.
  •  Do not make noises to attract or bring animals and birds into view. Keep quiet.
  •  Do not use flash when photographing wildlife.
  •  On night drives, avoid shining lights directly at animals for long. Use red filters on spotlights.
  •  Never pick flowers / leaves. Tour Leaders and local guides should provide a reference book where possible so clients can identify plants in situ.
  •  Do not encourage stray animals to follow you by feeding them. Best policy is to ignore them and get away.
  •  Do not smoke close to animals
  •  Do not support attractions where animals are trained to perform tasks that are not natural to them e.g. riding bikes, cleaning teeth, dancing bears, circuses etc. These are un-natural behaviours and the training and travel involved can have serious animal welfare implications. Animals may also have been taken from the wild.
  •  Do not support the use of animals as photographic props i.e. have your photo taken with a wild animal. Many animals are taken from the wild, drugged for this purpose and killed once they become too large to handle.

In addition for marine based activities;

  • When snorkelling, do not stand on coral – or even touch it
  •  Never anchor a boat on a coral reef. Use a mooring buoy / platform, moor on beach or drop anchor on sand. If this is not possible, snorkel elsewhere.
  •  Do not collect fossils, shells or stones
  •  If engaging in a swim with dolphins experience, do not approach them – let them approach you if they choose. Do not ride on the animals dorsal or vectral fins as this can be dangerous. Do not swim with captive dolphins as this can casue physical harm and stress to the animal.
  •  Separate guidelines are issued in conjunction with whale watching trips.

Where animals are used for transport on tours we try to ensure that animals are well cared for and have no signs of mistreatment, illness or malnourishment. This is part of our contract with the supplier.

In addition;

  • ACE should be advised if any local suppliers keep caged birds or animals in unsuitable conditions, if animals are being used as photographic props at places we visit or if you know of or suspect any mistreatment of animals.
  •  Look out for local organisations which help animals and advise ACE

Litter and reduction of waste

Litter is a huge problem in many countries where there is limited or no infrastructure for waste disposal, let alone recycling facilities. The first step is to ensure that we minimise our use of resources in the first place -in order to generate less waste. Then we try to ensure that waste is disposed of in the most effective way possible.

Limiting generation of waste

  • We encourage customers to avoid accepting plastic bags for everything in shops and to reuse the ones they have (for litter collection etc). Locally made cotton bags can be purchased in some countries for very little. These can be provided by Tour Leaders and handed back at the end of the trip.
  •  Where possible, water is provided for clients to fill their own water bottles, selling cheap refills from a large container or purified water to reduce plastic bottle waste.
  •  Tour Leaders re-use hotel notices where possible, collect in handouts given to customers for re-use and bring all unused paperwork and folders back to ACE for re-use.
  •  Customers are encouraged to reduce the amount of packaging taken on tour as it is usually more effectively disposed of at home than on tour
  •  On camping tours, where possible we use reusable food containers rather than foil or plastic bags. We avoid using disposable plates, cups and cutlery.

Litter

  • Litter should always be disposed of responsibly. If it is not clear that rubbish bins are emptied regularly, rubbish should be carried out to where it will be disposed of.
  •  Cigarette ends should not be dropped on streets / behind bushes / overboard boats etc. but put in a rubbish bin or in pocket until a rubbish bin is available. We recommend smokers carry a receptacle to collect their butts. Plastic film cases are excellent for this and reduce the smell!
  •  Food waste – including apple cores etc – should not be dropped behind bushes, overboard boats etc. but carried until they can be put in a rubbish bin. NB: orange peel takes 6 months to decompose in temperate climates and is therefore unsightly for a long time. It can also poison wildlife which may eat it and attract aggressive wild animals to areas used by humans. For these reasons dropping food waste like this is banned in many national parks.
  •  On walks, at sites or other areas where appropriate, we suggest a voluntary system where customers take a plastic bag and collect a few pieces of litter from the trail and dispose of it at the end of the walk, leaving the environment cleaner than when we found it!
  •  On boats, rubbish must be carried back to facilities on shore and never dumped over the side of the boat or hidden behind rocks.

Use of local shops and restaurants

What is available in local shops and restaurants can have an impact on the environment! So:

  • Do not buy items derived from endangered / fragile species eg coral, fur, ivory and bone etc. Be aware which goods are from sustainable sources.
  • Be aware of goods that may be manufactured through child labour.
  • Be aware of local laws regarding purchase and export of antiquities.
  •  In local restaurants, do not eat food from endangered / fragile species. Ensure game is sourced from a managed cull. As with objects, be aware which goods are from sustainable sources.

When visiting ancient sites

It is important that we:

  • Do not touch ancient monuments, as oils, acid and dirt from hands can cause erosion
  • Respect laws against flash photography in sites as the bright light can cause damage to frescoes etc
  • Do not pick up stones, fossils or potshards. These are part of the site!
  • Keep to the set paths
  • Never climb on or over ruins / walls

On walks

We try to ensure we and our Leaders are aware of local guidelines and regulations regarding walking. To avoid erosion, the following general guidelines always apply:

In popular areas

  • Concentrate use on existing trails
  • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy
  • In pristine areas
  • Disperse use to prevent the creation of trails
  • Avoid places where impact is just beginning to show

Only walk on planted ground if there is no other choice. Where a walk crosses a field or planted area, we recommend our groups go carefully at the edge, in single file and ask permission from the owner first if possible.