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Checklist For
Responsible Tour Operators





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by David Mozer

There are an increasing number of tour operators who are marketing their products as 'ecotourism', 'cultural tours', and 'reality tours'. Because these terms mean different things to different people, we have left out the labels and developed some criteria. You can use this checklist to evaluate tour operators and compare travel programs.

Tour Operator:________________________________


  • Environmental Friendly
    • ___Company has program to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
    • ___Recycled content paper used.
    • ___Conservation of materials (size and volume of promotional materials minimized).
  • Economic Benefits
    • ___Fairness in the work place.
    • ___Programs that give back to the communities in which they operate.
    • ___Guides/staff reflect ethnic and gender diversity.
  • Cultural Sensitivity
    • ___Promotional copy conveys respect and dignity to all people, and is non-voyeuristic.


  • Environmental Friendly
    • ___Transport is efficient/sustainable: use non-motorized transportation or high occupancy vehicles as the  primary mode of travel.
    • ___Practices of program are low-impact; life-style and program activities.
  • Economic Benefits
    • ___Locally owned businesses are patronized (i.e. not foreign owned hotel chains).
    • ___Locally produced products are consumed (i.e. not imported foodstuffs).
    • ___Purchases made from traditional producers (i.e. artisans and craftspeople)
    • ___Traditional enterprises are encouraged, (i.e. hotels and restaurants that serve local community).
    • ___Bargaining is appreciated in its social role, not as competition.
  • Cultural Sensitivity
    • ___Program structure reduces barriers between citizens and visitors.
    • ___Cross-cultural interaction is for more than food, fashion, festivals and photo opportunities.
    • ___Program objectives are qualitative not quantitative.
    • ___Activities are within the moral and ethical standards of the area.
    • ___Appropriate dress for visitors is encouraged.
    • ___Departures on any one itinerary are limited (i.e. less than 1 per month).


  • Cultural Sensitivity
    • ___Have a background and knowledge of the culture.
    • ___Actions (greeting, transactions) are respectful of the people and their culture.
    • ___Language is respectful of the people and their way of life (see )
    • ___Dress reflects the traditional values of the community (not necessarily the value, or lack thereof, of the visitors or Hollywood.)
    • ___Photography and video are discouraged where inappropriate.
  • Environmental Friendly
    • ___Set an example of respecting the environment.
  • Economic Benefits
    • ___Set an example of supporting the local economy.



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The International Bicycle Fund is an independent, non-profit organization. Its primary purpose is to promote bicycle transportation. Most IBF projects and activities fall into one of  four categories: planning and engineering, safety education, economic development assistance and promoting international understanding. IBF's objective is to create a sustainable, people-friendly environment by creating opportunities of the highest practicable quality for bicycle transportation. IBF is funded by private donation. Contributions are always welcome and are U.S. tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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