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Aim 4 Africa » Responsible tourism policy

Quality tailor-made holidays at the heart of Africa

malawi

OUR ETHOS AND OUR MISSION

Aim 4 Africa was founded with the purpose of promoting responsible and ethical tourism to East Africa so that both visitors and local communities benefit.

We believe that sustainable and sensitively targeted tourism is invaluable in the development of local communities and in the preservation of natural environments and wildlife in sub-Saharan Africa. We aim to encourage all kinds of people to visit East Africa, as we believe this wonderful part of Africa has a lot to offer the discerning visitor as well as local communities.

Unlike some tour operators, we don’t believe in paying exorbitant prices to be listed as “Responsible Travel” practitioners or enrol for grand awards to identify ourselves as such. We believe that the cost of joining such organisations is best invested in development projects of the host countries we work with. We believe that our actions are proof enough of our commitment, and we know that those who are truly committed to assisting the local communities and conservation projects in developing countries will do so to directly benefit these, without the pomp or label of being a “Responsible Tour Operator”.

OUR GOALS

  • We aim to promote sustainable and best practice in marketing East Africa as our key destination, and we hope to encourage more people to visit this special part of Africa that we love so passionately so that they too can enjoy the natural beauty of this wonderful place.
  • We aim to minimise negative impacts on the local and global environments, whilst maximising benefits to both.
  • We aim to continue to support and encourage environmentally sound management of accommodations, and promote ethically sensitive and environmentally sustainable activities.
  • We will continue to create and maintain partnerships with small, local companies in East Africa, and encourage the employment of local people and development of local communities.
  • We will encourage local community participation in tourism projects and we will continue to support local initiatives to promote cultural awareness and local community development.
  • We will continue to take part in and promote wildlife and nature conservation as well as local community development projects.
  • We will continue to provide adequate information and encourage our clients to improve their knowledge of the destination prior to departure – to enable our clients to be culturally and environmentally informed of any issues arising in their destination and in so doing gain maximum enjoyment from their holiday.

SOCIAL IMPACT

We will only introduce our clients to areas where the community welcomes them and where there is positive impact on visits to such communities.
Cultural visits will always take place where there is a community project in place, where all areas of the community benefit. Local guides help our clients understand the local custom and norms, and to interact on a more personal level with the communities. By learning some of the local language our clients can have a more positive impact on the community, and leave a more favourable view of tourists in general.

  • We encourage our clients to contribute to community development projects we recommend based on identified programs, rather than distributing items and gifts randomly. This is to ensure that the people you wish to help directly benefit from any gifts or donations you make to them.
  • We inform our clients about local customs and norms, so that they are aware of the impact their behaviour can have on a community.
  • It is important to be aware of the local community's culture and traditions and to respect local etiquette. We would encourage our clients to have at least one cultural encounter during their visit to learn more about the host community.
  • Ask your local guides about their customs and traditions – they are the best ones to advise you and take great pride in doing so.
  • Try to be as inoffensive as possible by taking into consideration dress codes.
  • Couples should try not to be over-amorous in public; be sensitive to local cultures.
  • Always ask before you take photographs of local people and please respect their privacy, as you would like others to respect yours.
  • Try to learn simple words or phrases in Kiswahili to reflect your interest – this is very much appreciated by local people and you will enjoy the experience.
  • Maintain a level of respect and tolerance when on holiday – you will better enjoy the experience and your patience will be rewarded.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Aim 4 Africa firmly believes in giving back to the communities we operate in. All our guides are from within East Africa. This ensures the money you spend goes back into developing local communities and in creating more sustainable employment and other opportunities. We also promote a “used gear” donation program via our guides and porters who hire mountain and camping equipment as a means of secondary income. So if you’d rather not carry your used clothing and equipment back with you when you return home, please speak to your guides or porters. We believe in giving a hand to those who need it, not a hand out.
Our motto: “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a Man to fish and feed him for a lifetime”.

  • We encourage the use, and only make use of (unless not possible) local suppliers and services. This includes local produce, foods and crafts, local tour operators and using locally owned and managed accommodations wherever possible, thus ensuring the funds invested remain within the country.
  • We employ local guides on all our tours, treks and cultural programs, and make use of local labour in order to contribute to the economy and development of the local community.
  • We encourage our clients to purchase locally produced items from indigenous craft markets. We also inform our clients that bargaining, and trading goods is the norm, but to keep in mind that the community has to make their living from this, and not to try and bargain unfairly.
  • We also support the activities of CAFOD and OXFAM, charities which actively support local communities, and where possible all our products are from fair trade sources.
  • Wherever possible, we encourage our suppliers and customers to purchase local goods rather than imported products. Be adventurous and dine in local restaurants. This helps to support the local economy and you get to explore another of East Africa’s special treats – the local cuisine is one of the very best. (So ask for Ugali, or Ndizi-na-Nyama or Mtori or Makande or Nyama-Choma na Kachumbari. These will add another dimension to your East African experiences!)
  • Visit local, small-scale souvenir shops and markets and purchase from local people directly rather than tourist shops and hotel boutiques – you will often find better bargains in local craft-markets and your purchases directly benefits the local craftsmen and women.
  • We recommend that you plan for tipping within your holiday budget. If you feel that you have received great service during your stay at a lodge, hotel or camp or exceptional service from a guide or cook or porter, then please tip them accordingly. Tipping differs from place to place, and in some cases certain hotels and lodges have gratuities boxes at reception. Ask the hotel management the best way to tip to ensure that the people behind the scenes also benefit from your stay. Guides/cooks and porters are usually tipped at the end of your safari or trek.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

We believe in protecting and preserving the unspoiled natural beauty of East Africa. Tourism plays an important part in the conservation of areas and can be done responsibly, stimulating the economy and improving the lifestyles of the local communities, while conserving natural resources for many generations to come. It will take all of our efforts to ensure that the very thing that attracts tourists - the raw beauty of Kilimanjaro, the glorious wildlife, pristine rainforests, the teeming coral reefs - can be enjoyed for many years to come by our children, grandchildren and their grandchildren. You can play your part too (see our recommendations below)!

  • Our programs are all tailored to suit small groups, thereby trying to minimize the impact on sensitive ecosystems whilst allowing clients to enjoy their holiday with maximum flexibility and personalised service.
  • We encourage our suppliers to make use of alternative energy sources where possible, (such as wind, solar and properly managed renewable forests), and to actively recycle waste where such facilities exist.
  • For distribution of tour information, pre and post booking, we encourage the use of the internet and e-mail distribution of information where possible, to cut down on excessive use of paper and energy resources.

PRACTICAL WAYS IN WHICH WE TRY TO BE RESPONSIBLE TOUR OPERATORS

  • We support local community based projects and small-scale businesses and try to ensure that they secure a fair share of the benefits that carefully managed tourism can reap.
  • We try to focus on low impact routing of travel around the host countries, avoiding destinations that are likely to be adversely affected by our visitors.
  • We endeavour to make clear and transparent arrangements with our partners overseas, and make every effort to avoid exploiting them or the local communities they work with.
  • We actively try to support environmentally sound projects within the host countries in order to promote tourism and local community development.
  • We aim to encourage our suppliers and partners to continually evaluate their employment, environmental and community involvement practices for the benefit of the host countries and the local people.
  • We are always honest in our advice to our clients. We aim to give our clients as much information and practical advice as possible in order that they have informed and realistic expectations of the countries they will be visiting, and in so doing, enhance their holiday experience.
  • We place great emphasis on informing our visitors through good, local guides who can relay pertinent local information and provide an insight on the host destinations in a culturally sensitive manner making it more interesting to visitors.
  • We do not employ tour leaders that are non-East African nationals, to guide our clients around East Africa; we believe that local Africans usually do a better job of this and this creates much needed employment for local communities that we aim to continually support.
  • We also encourage the employment of local people through the transport, accommodations, excursions and other projects that we support.

WAYS IN WHICH YOU CAN HELP

  • Litter: keep all litter in your possession until you find a suitable disposal facility. Do not carelessly discard cigarette stubs as much of sub-Saharan Africa is arid and scrub and grasslands can catch light quickly with devastating effects. Only smoke in specially designated areas.
  • Safaris and Treks: Stick to designated routes and only under recommendations of your guide. Do not encourage your safari guide to drive off the track as this is prohibited and against national park regulations. Sticking to designated tracks and roads minimises damage to vegetation and distress to wildlife. Similarly, when approaching animals in your vehicle or on foot, keep a respectful distance from them and do not harass them. Take into consideration your distance and do not attempt to feed or touch any wildlife.
  • Attempt to use environmentally friendly bathroom products and use them sparingly to minimise pollution of the local water supply. Many of our lodges provide their own complimentary environmentally friendly products.
  • In some areas of East Africa, water shortage is a serious problem, the severity of this increases during the dry season. Please conserve water where possible - however, it is important to keep oneself hydrated at all times.
  • Please also make every effort to conserve other resources - remember to switch off lights and air-conditioning when you leave your room; reuse towels and bedding for a couple of days instead of laundering daily, if possible.

CONSERVATION AND COMMUNITY PROJECTS

  • Do not purchase products that may endanger the survival of an animal by encouraging the destruction of a species for souvenirs such as ivory, skins or other wildlife products.
  • Visit and support local conservation and community projects. This provides valuable funding for projects and enables the local community to improve their standard of living through developing infrastructure and services. Clients often learn invaluable skills and gain important lessons by speaking to local communities for instance learn archery from expert archers the Hadzabe bushmen, walk with Maasai warriors, learn about zero-grazing farming methods from the enterprising wachagga tribe.
  • Do not give money to beggars and do not hand out sweets to children on the roadside. (Note: dental hygienists are not widely available to people living rurally). Instead make a resolution that you will contribute to a local school, village or health project before you leave Africa and this will be money well spent (this is obviously at your discretion and only if you wish to do so).

FEEDBACK

In order to improve our services and client expectations, it is important to us that we receive first-hand feedback from you. This will not only help us find out your thoughts on our policy and receive constructive criticism, but also to maintain and improve our high standards. We would therefore request you to kindly complete and return our End of Trip Questionnaire – we very much value your feedback and know it will serve to greatly improve our services and commitment for better service. Alternatively please send us an email with your feedback to enquiries@aim4africa.com