Tourism is said to be the world's largest employer accounting for about 10% of global GDP and employing over 10% of the world's workforce. Not only does it play a crucial role in world economics, it has a significant impact on many people's day to day lives. If managed well it can be used to preserve natural environments, wildlife and peoples lifestyles and help people climb out of poverty but if managed poorly it can destroy natural environments and habitats and lead to serious human rights abuses.
We, at Oasis Overland, realise the important role we have to play in ensuring that our trips are run responsibly to maximise the potential benefits to local communities and minimise the negatives. We believe that our trips should benefit local people and their environments, or at the very least not harm them. In recognition of our efforts we have been awarded 4 Responsible Travel Stars by AITO.
Our Responsible Travel policy
Oasis Overland supports Tourism Concern. Echoing Tourism Concerns central tenets we hope to raise awareness of the delicate balance that exists, in many of the countries we visit, between the need for foreign investment and revenue from tourism and the needs of local environments and the wildlife and people that inhabit them.
We encourage our travellers to act in a responsible manner by providing written, displayed environmental guidelines on all our trucks and these are re-emphasised during a pre-departure talk, by our crew, at the start of all our trips. This information is also provided on our website in order to help travellers prepare for their trip in an environmentally responsible way. These include the appropriate disposal of litter and waste materials; water conservation; respecting and conserving wildlife and their habitats; purchasing of endangered species products and so on.
Two of our trips - Peru and Egypt are run on local transport - trains, buses and boats, rather than adding the emissions, and fuel consumption of another vehicle on the road.
If possible we try to use suppliers and accommodation providers that share our environmental concerns, for example in Ecuador our groups stay at the Arajuno Jungle Lodge and Forest Reserve www.arajuno.com This project not only runs its accommodation on sustainable principles but supports the local community in a variety of ways and has a forest reserve, including native species reproduction project.
When we use local operators to take our travellers into game parks we ensure that they abide by park rules for example not getting too close to the animals; keeping to speed limits.
Oasis is very aware of the environmental impact of our office in the UK, so we recycle and compost as much of our waste as possible. We try to reduce paper usage as much as possible, but when necessary we use recycled paper and stationery. Our brochure is available to view or download online and the paper version is printed on stock produced from sustainable sources and vegetable based inks. We encourage the use of public transport on work-related journeys and we encourage our team to cycle to work and one of our Directors sets a good example by doing it himself!
All our travellers are provided with detailed pre-departure information upon booking one of our trips. This includes information on respecting local customs, traditions and beliefs-particularly in terms of taking photos, what to wear etc. Our crew are encouraged to learn local languages and indeed, in South America, as part of their pre-trip training they stay with a local family and attend a language school for two weeks. Our travellers are also offered this opportunity.
On the majority of our trips Oasis Overland offers travellers the opportunity to visit a variety of community projects on route where they are able to interact with the local people and 'contribute' in some way to the countries they are visiting. In Egypt for example, travellers are given the opportunity to visit the Sunshine Project Children's Home in Luxor (a project that Oasis contributes money to on a regular basis). In Uganda travellers visit the Soft Power Education Project which works to develop and improve educational facilities for local children.
Click here to see other projects we support.
We use local operators (for excursions) and local accommodation providers in the countries we visit and whenever possible we use local guides at sites of historic, or natural interest.
Our aim is to put as much back into the local communities that we visit as possible.
We only use local operators, guides (when relevant) and accommodation providers in the countries we visit. We purchase all our food supplies locally (unless in very remote areas where food supplies are limited if not unavailable). We also have our vehicles maintained and repaired locally and try to equip them with locally made goods. For example, the tents we use on our trips in Africa are made and purchased in South Africa. In Turkey and Zimbabwe we use particular locally run workshops and their mechanics to help regularly service and maintain our vehicles. We encourage our travellers to use small locally run restaurants and street food sellers and to buy their souvenirs from small, often, co-operatively run providers for example craft markets in Zimbabwe and Malawi-where local artists sell direct.
Our Regional Explorer trips in Peru, Bolivia, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco are run entirely on local transport - thereby supporting local transport providers and rail provision. All the hotels we use on these trips are small and locally run - in fact the majority are family run. We do not use international chains.
We use so many local operators in the countries we visit that we can't mention them all but we thought we'd like to tell you about a few and our relationship with them.
Egypt- One of the highlights of many travellers trip to Egypt is sailing down the Nile on a felucca. The feluccas are owned and sailed by Ahmed Fauzi and his extended family - we have been supporting their tiny felucca business from its start when they had only one felucca and no regular business-just one-off trips from tourists they picked up on the Aswan Corniche. We too met them on the Corniche and were so impressed by the service they provided that we have been working with them ever since. They have grown with us and have recently managed to expand to 3 small sail boats which completely supports their large extended village family.
In Quito, Ecuador we have been working with the Atahualpa Language school for many years now. Oasis crew and many of our travellers go before their trips start to learn Spanish and experience life staying with a local family. Courses are tailor - made and half the day is spent in lessons and the rest in cultural activities. Most of our crew and travellers stay with Martha and her family and we always get really positive feedback.
Your role in travelling responsibly
We believe that as individual travellers there is a lot that you can do too. Here are a few ideas:
Before you Go
- Recycling facilities in many of the countries we visit do not exist in the way we know them here. Therefore, whenever possible remove and recycle any unnecessary packaging before you go on toiletries etc.
- Whilst on the subject of toiletries why not look at taking environmentally friendly products eg. shampoo, shower gel with you to avoid polluting local water supplies.
- Purchase and use rechargeable batteries for your cameras, ipods, phones etc, we have 12V cigarette sockets on our vehicles, so all you need is a charger. Better still why not invest in a wind-up or solar-powered torch or media player before you travel. The Centre for Alternative Technology has a good selection on their website-www.cat.org.uk.
- Learn some of the local language and read up on local history/culture before you go. Try reading literature by local authors or listening to some local music. You'll get so much more out of your trip. If you're on one of our South America trips why not consider attending a local language school, staying with a local family, before your trip starts. We can organise this for you.
- Why not pack some pens/pencils exercise books in your rucksack and they can be donated to a local school, or project while you're away. Our crew can advise you of the best places.
- Take a sturdy water bottle with you from home that you can re-use throughout your trip so that you're not constantly buying bottled water and having to dispose of the bottles.
While you're travelling
- Don't waste water. This applies whether you're filling up the jerry cans at a local well or showering at a hotel. Water is a scarce resource in many of the places our trips visit. Remember we are just passing through, but the local people and wildlife live there.
- Never buy endangered species or endangered habitat products- from coral and butterflies through to obvious items such as ivory and rhino horn. Apart from the fact of it being illegal it also encourages the thieves and poachers to continue their trade - if there are no buyers there is no market. For more information please visit the CITES website.
- Look after and preserve the areas we visit. Be careful about stepping on coral reefs or trekking on undesignated tracks. This will damage delicate eco-systems that have taken many years to mature and in some cases are irreparable. It also gives the impression to others that if one person is doing it then they can as well, whereas in fact it will lead to future generations not being able to enjoy it at all.
- Buy locally made crafts and products - if possible direct from the artisan. Also buy locally made products, generally this will help to support local economies.
- Bargaining is the purchasing custom in many of our destinations, but don't feel that you have to get the cheapest price possible just for the sake of it, or to show off your bargaining prowess in front of your fellow travellers. Pay what the item is worth to you. The equivalent of a few pounds may mean the difference between a meal for the sellers family or not. Remember how wealthy you are compared to local people.
- Try the local food and drinks - this will help to support local farmers and food sellers. Sitting in a local café is also a great way to meet local people.
- Dispose of litter appropriately on your trip. This includes cigarette butts. Not only does litter look unsightly it can be lethal to wildlife. Where any toilet facilities exist, however unsavoury they might seem to you, they should be used. Where they do not, always bury your waste and make sure it is never near, (at least 30m) from a water source.
- When game viewing do not encourage your guides to get too close to the wildlife. Most game-parks have strict guidelines about distances to be maintained from game and these should be adhered to. Also, remember that you should be quiet when viewing game.
- Respect - Respect the local customs, traditions and beliefs of the peoples in the different regions that you travel through. Do not take photos of people, ritual events or special places unless you have asked first.
- Dress appropriately according to local codes. This not only shows respect to the local people but will save you a lot of undue attention and potential aggravation. Also show respect around religious festivals such as Ramadan-although the strict codes around this time do not apply to foreigners it is polite and respectful to abide or at least be aware of them and it may well give you a different perspective and understanding on the local culture and people.
- Photos-ask before taking photos of local people and if possible send the person a copy of it when you get back home.