Tour operators

 

Plan your travel with tour operators that set out to help local people and protect the environment.

 ECO-FRIENDLY TOUR OPERATORS GUIDE   

 


Adventure Alternative


Offers trekking, teaching and medical electives, mountaineering expeditions and safaris, to various countries. “We emphasize pro-poor tourism, putting profits back into local communities and promoting long- term employment in developing countries.” The company has offices in Belfast (HQ), Nairobi, Moshi, Moscow and Kathmandu and is linked to and supports the registered charity and NGO Moving Mountains which works in Nepal, Niger and Kenya. Ethical Tour Operators Group member.


Baobab Travel


BAOBAB is a specialist eco-tour operator offering trips mainly to Africa. Destinations include Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia as well as Egypt/Sinai and Jordan. They can provide themed trips from scuba-diving to wildlife safaris and yoga retreats. Ethical Tour Operators Group member.


Cazenove & Lloyd


Based in London this firm describes itself as “destination experts” and focuses on the luxury end of the market with tailor made trips to Latin America, Africa, and Indian Ocean and India. Ethical Tour Operators Group member.


Dragoman Overland


Runs truck-based adventure travel trips with exotic destinations and authentic experiences throughout the world. It has a responsible tourism policy and a strong commitment to local community projects and says at least 55% of passengers’ money stays in the destination country to benefit its hosts. Past winner of the AITO Responsible Tourism Company of the Year award.


Expert Africa


Formerly called Sunvil Africa this company offers safaris and trips to the southern part of the continent. Its staff are experts who spend at least a month there every year. The website includes details of its commitment to responsible travel. Ethical Tour Operators Group member.


Explore Worldwide


Part of the international HolidayBreak group, this Hampshire based adventure travel firm was founded in 1981 and now operates over 300 trips ranging from walking and trekking to cycling, family holidays and short breaks. Travelmole (the online community for the travel and tourism industry) named Explore the best responsible tourism website in 2006. Ethical Tour Operators Group member.


First Choice


Part of the leading international TUI Travel group, First Choice launched its brand new online Greener Holidays brochure in April 2009. Its award winning airline is changing the way it flies to reduce carbon emissions and all the hotels featured have been recognised for doing their bit to be more sustainable by reducing energy and water usage, sourcing locally produced food and making sure their employees have fair working conditions. The best performing hotels are given a bronze, silver or gold Travelife award.


Gane & Marshall


This small specialist London company with a strong interest in ethical and environmental issues provides tailor made itineraries to southern and eastern Africa, South America, and the Indian Ocean ranging from safaris to beach holidays and honeymoons. Ethical Tour Operators Group member.


Intrepid Travel


The company has over 300 different small group adventure trips in over 50 different destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, The Middle East, Antarctica and Australasia, and many different styles of travel. Notable for its responsible tourism policy, its aim is that travellers become a part of country and not just tourists looking in. It has submitted itself to rigorous external audit and established the Intrepid Foundation to aid local causes. Past winner in the tour operator category of the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards.


KE Adventure Travel


Specialises in trekking and climbing holidays and stresses its good treatment of local staff, respect for indigenous cultures and aim to make a positive contribution wherever it goes. It offers exciting experiences in mountain ranges in over 40 countries. Past winner of the AITO Responsible Tourism Company of the Year award.


Rainbow Tours


Rainbow Tours is a specialist travel company based in London providing tailor-made holidays to Africa and the Indian Ocean. It creates individual safaris, honeymoons, bush and beach holidays, preferring owner-run accommodation in unusual and interesting destinations. It includes lodges certified by FTTSA, the South African fair trade in tourism body, and says it aims “to turn the rhetoric of ecotourism into reality” through its code of practice. 


Responsible Travel


A renowned online travel directory which claims to have been the first to talk about responsible travel and tourism and the first business dedicated to promoting eco, green or responsible’ holidays on one site. It offers thousands of adventure and family holidays, ecotourism and responsible travel from hundreds of tour operators and accommodation providers which it has screened to meet its environmental, social and economic criteria and explains how each holiday actually makes a difference. The firm says it has arranged travel for over 25,000 clients since 2001. You can’t book directly online: you have to send your trip enquiry using their online form and the tour operator calls you back. A co-sponsor of the Responsible Tourism Awards.


Tribes Travel


Describing itself as “the Fair Trade Travel company”, it offers high quality tailor made holidays which benefit local people, wildlife and the environment. It offers holidays in 14 countries worldwide and activities including bird watching, safaris, trekking, cultural or just lazing on a beach. Tribes is based in Suffolk and was the First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards winner in 2005. Ethical Tour Operators Group member.


Wilderness Scotland


This firm runs guided walking, sailing and adventure holidays throughout the highlands and islands of Scotland. Its website features detailed descriptions of its responsible tourism policy and how it puts this into practice. Highly commended at past Responsible Tourism Awards.

 
 
 
 
 

About this guide

To decide which eco-friendly tour operators to list we rely on our own professional research plus recommendations by other writers. Unfortunately there is no universally accepted set of standards for eco-friendly tourism and dozens of bodies provide inspection and certification. Some of these have rigorous vetting procedures while others just require payment of a membership fee.

A number of the places listed have won environmental awards or belong to specialist responsible travel groups. For instance:

The campaigning organisation Tourism Concern has set up an Ethical Tour Operators Group. Its member companies are UK based and undertake to support socially responsible tourism.

The trade body AITO (The Association of Independent Tour Operators) lists on its website members saying they practice responsible tourism and a star rating system. It also gives awards.
http://www.aito.co.uk/corporate_RT_MembersPractising.asp

The Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards are widely acclaimed and held annually. The winners are announced each November.

HOW IT WORKS

There are direct links to each tour operator’s own website. Some of these links are to sites with which we are affiliated. If you click through to these sites or make a purchase from them this may result in us receiving a fee or commission. These links are clearly indicated with this symbol: +

There are also links to sites which do not pay us. Any link or other information is only be included if we believe it is useful and reliable - not whether we are paid.

To suggest a tour operator for inclusion please contact us