* This article is a guest post by GROUND Asia, a valued member of the PATA network. PATA is an advocate for sustainable tourism and proudly supports key discussions around the topic of sustainability.
For the past three months, all of our GROUND Asia staff have been involved in refining our Responsible Traveler training manual, and we are now delighted to share some of it with you. This is part of our commitment to the UN SDGs and responsible tourism best practice – to ensure we make a positive impact through all of our educational travel programs. It’s key that we educate our suppliers, community partners, guides and young travelers so that they all understand why we do the things we do.
This journey started for us in March, when we had our staff training in Mai Chau, Vietnam. In preparation for this training workshop, we divided our staff into four teams, and each delivered a training session for their peers on one of the following four topics:
These topics are recurring key themes during the design and delivery of our educational travel programs, and so it’s essential that GROUND Asia staff and our local suppliers are trained in the issues and have the confidence to deal with situations whenever they arise. This training has led to better relationships with our community partners, and our participants are now better able to interact with their hosts in a positive and more meaningful way.
At GROUND Asia, we design our programs to have a long-term positive impact on the communities we work with. Our students often come from abroad to work and stay with low-income families, and this can sometimes result in students wanting to give or donate something to the people and communities that they meet when they are here. To ensure that our programs are ethical, sustainable and positive for our host community partners, we recommend that donations are only given in a way that helps bring long-term sustainable development as recommended by the collective community. Our Responsible Giving training discusses the questions surrounding this topic and encourages our participants to donate in a way that results in the greatest social impact.
Taking Photos Responsibly
Travelling presents an opportunity to photograph in lots of different destinations and situations, and in this digital age where we can take photos and videos on our smartphones, it is even more important to remember the ethics of capturing those memories on camera. We want to make sure all our students, suppliers, partner organisations and staff know how to avoid getting into awkward situations where they are not respecting the local culture and host communities and our Taking Photos Responsibly training gives them the knowledge to do that.
Reducing Plastic Waste
We know that plastic waste contaminates our world and harms the environment and natural habitats. Seeing the impact that this plastic waste was having on our host countries and communities has led us to find ways to reduce the amount of single-use plastic our organisation, suppliers and participants consume. Our Reducing Plastic Waste training highlights the issue of plastic consumption while traveling and offers some practical tips on how to reduce it. It also introduces ecobricks – one solution to help reduce the plastic going to landfill, rivers and oceans, particularly in places where recycling is not available.
Child Safety in Tourism
GROUND Asia and our partner organizations are committed to ensuring that children remain safe at all times. We understand the problems of Orphanage Tourism, and are clear about not visiting any such establishments during our trips. We also do not accept any form of child labour, helping facilitate more opportunities for children to attend school instead. Our training goes beyond this to helping our suppliers integrate child safety measures in their company policies, as well as building awareness around this issue for our young travellers.
Inspiring a new generation of young travelers
The training we provide does not stop at making sure that our suppliers and local partners share our vision for good practice and operate responsibly. We also include these details in our pre-departure materials and in-country orientation for our students, so that we can inspire and educate a new generation of responsible travelers who will go on to use what they learn about these topics in their everyday lives and future trips. Travel provides a great opportunity to have conversations about these topics with students, and our training gives them practical tips about what they can do to behave more responsibly.
We are delighted to be able to share these training resources with our agents, suppliers, teachers, faculty members and students, with the intent of helping to shape a more caring tourism industry, whilst continuing to lead by example. Please feel free to download and share these resources to help us raise awareness about these issues. Let’s all work together to create a better world for tomorrow through educational travel.
Original article: https://www.groundasia.com/responsible-traveler-training/