In light of Anti-Tourism Protests, is choosing smaller, ethical Tour Operators the solution?
As anti-tourism protests sweep Europe, multi-activity holiday experts Undiscovered Mountains believe that tourists’ choices of who they travel with and how they travel are part of the solution.
The Alps specialists, who are committed to sustainable tourism, say travel companies need to take responsibility for their contribution to the issue and tourists also have the power to influence in their choice of tour operator.
“Every destination has an optimum capacity as to the number of tourists that create a feel good factor in the destination and generate income without changing the nature of the destination,” Director of Undiscovered Mountains, Sally Guillaume said.
“We don’t believe protests are the answer, but tourists and travel companies specialising in Europe do need to take action to minimise the impact they are having on local communities.
“There are of course ways to limit the number of tourists with quotas and by creating laws through government, but there is also a responsibility with the tourists and travel companies themselves.”
Dubrovnik’s Mayor was recently behind one of these instances, where he announced he would be limiting the number of tourists and cruise ships allowed access to the historical town, as a direct consequence of overtourism.
There are many ways to check if a tour operator has a responsible and sustainable travel policy and what their ethics are.
Undiscovered Mountains also believe that tour operators and agencies hosting trips should have a responsibility to educate their clients in responsible and sustainable tourism wherever possible.
“We specialise in areas off the beaten track and our travellers are warmly welcomed, as these destinations need tourists to survive. Here, tourists enrich the area rather than depreciate it,” Guillaume said.
“We help to make this happen with our sustainable tourism policy of using local people for all our tourist services so all tourist income stays in the area.
“We also educate our clients through our carefully chosen welcome gifts, local information and advice so our clients appreciate and respect the destination they are visiting.”
Undiscovered Mountains state that smaller tour operators are often better placed to offer a sustainable tourism model than larger holiday companies.
The the solution, according to Undiscovered Mountains, is for the tourism influx and impact on local communities may be minimised if more tourists choose to travel with smaller tour operators with ethical values.
“We are a small tour operator which makes this level of service possible.
“Larger companies would not have access to the many small suppliers that we do, they would need to choose large hotel chains and global suppliers to accommodate their larger numbers.
Additionally, we are based in the destination we serve and so we know the impact tourists have on the area and the optimum number of tourists the area can handle.
“Choosing to holiday with a small operator with local access to an area can avoid many of the problems that are leading to these protests.”