At SpiceRoads we are committed to responsible tourism, because we acknowledge that while tourism provides locals with income to improve their standard of living, it can also affect their culture and environment. Therefore, to lessen our impact we need your cooperation.
As a traveller, you play a major role in helping us maintain and improve our policy and practices. The following are some suggestions we would like to make, while specific cultural issues regarding responsible tourism will be discussed in more detail during the tour briefings.
- Do some research on the destination and culture you're visiting. This greatly helps you get an overview of that particular place so that you can adapt yourself to its environment and people.
- We all come from different social and cultural backgrounds so please keep in mind that what you consider normal behaviour may be extremely offensive to others. So please be sensitive and show respect to locals and their customs. For example, although dress is generally quite casual on our tours, you may be required to dress appropriately when visiting religious establishments by wearing a sarong over your shorts.
- Taking photos is the norm among tourists, yet in certain areas people who practice animism or other forms of religion consider it taboo or bad luck. Therefore, when in doubt, politely ask if you may take a photograph. If people seem reluctant or look away, simply don't take the photo. It is also not advisable to photograph government officials and buildings as you may be asked to delete the photos or even have your camera confiscated.
- Plans do go awry sometimes and when things don't go your way, try not to lose your temper, no matter how angry you are. Instead, always try to smile because it can not only improve your mood but also reduce the tension. Simply put, smiling goes a long way anywhere in the world.
- Souvenirs are available everywhere, but we encourage buying items that benefit the local economy and avoiding expensive shopping malls where most of the money goes abroad or to large businesses. While bargaining is often the norm in many countries, please do not generate ill-feeling by bargaining too hard. Similarly, you should not bargain for items which you have no intention of buying.
- NEVER buy products or souvenirs that endanger wildlife species and their habitats. It is illegal to bring wildlife products into western countries, e.g. ivory, tiger skins, etc.
- Finally, ask your guide for advice on how to respond to begging and about appropriate gifts. It is usually better, for example, to give school materials or local food treats as a group through the school leader or village head. Please do not hand out sweets, money or pens to children - it rots their teeth, encourages begging, and unbalances the local income patterns.
Again, we can't do this alone. We need your cooperation, and together we can make positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and sustain the earth's diverse treasures for many years to come.
If in doubt, please ask your guide for advice.