G Adventures has published a set of pioneering guidelines designed to improve tourism’s impact on local communities.
Together with its non-profit organisation Planeterra and The George Washington University’s International Institute of Tourism Studies, the touring and adventure operator has produced a 23-page downloadable booklet which provides guidance for working with indigenous people while helping communities directly benefit from responsible tourism.
The document, Indigenous People and The Travel Industry: Global Good Practice Guidelines, has been produced because the firm believes governments and businesses have “prioritised rapid growth over respect for indigenous people”.
G Adventures’ vice president of social enterprise and sustainability, Jamie Sweeting, said: “The ancestral lands, traditional culture and legacies of indigenous communities have been threatened by the pursuit of profit, and sadly tourism has contributed to this. We now have an opportunity to rewrite the story and ensure tourism is a force for indigenous well-being.
“From the Maasai in East Africa, to the Quechua in Peru, our partnership with indigenous communities is what makes G Adventures’ tours special for travellers and life-changing for local people. If we can give back further by encouraging the travel industry to do more to help these groups, it will be a sea change for our industry.”
G Adventures partners with and/or contracts the services of 94 different indigenous communities in 44 countries. Its social enterprise model, which seeks to earn profit while delivering social impact, is built around identifying communities which have been excluded from the tourism economy and bringing them into G Adventures’ supply chain.
The 17 guidelines are organised into three categories to be of maximum relevance to the variety of organisations interacting with indigenous people through tourism: (1) developing tourism experiences, (2) operating tourism experiences, and (3) marketing tourism experiences.
The guidelines were finalised with input from an expert panel including the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, Community Based Tourism Institute, and Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda.