What if you could Travel Good?
Whether you label it a trip, a tour, an adventure, an experience, an escape, or anything a vacation can be, it goes best with the word "dream" in front of it; and if you also dream a better world, Native Tours can help you realize that part of your life's journey.
Our friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, responsible guides can lead you down the paths of pristine green forests, majestic snow-capped mountains, still waters, and rivers rushing through vibrant valleys - not only for the sake of your soul and psyche but also for the well-being of the planet and the people native to this unique corner of it.
Does your dream include being awed by the natural wonders of Mother Nature as well as by the ingenuity and creativity of the ancient indigenous people who revered Her? Would you like to look back on this stage of your journey through life knowing that - while you saw fascinating ruins and cultures of the past - you did not trample the present, perhaps even brightened the future for a place and its people?
How good would it feel if the memory of your dream trip included improving the livelihood of others, protecting the rainforest, and preserving local culture?
Our focus is on your spirit savoring the travel experience of your body and mind. We want your journey to both thrill and inspire -- something accomplished as much by the captivating native people you will meet and whose culture you will experience as by the astonishing sights you will see.
Our belief is that travel on a smaller, simpler scale makes for grander, more magical moments and memories. Beauty is by definition unspoiled; the peace, serenity and majesty of natural landscapes best enjoyed far from the maddening crowd; and amazing culture and tradition best appreciated through hands-on participation.
Our tours let you delve deeper, experience what's behind the landmark, the history, culture, and values that led to its construction. This is not the typical shrink-wrapped tour where you do "20 cities in 20 days", climbing on and off the bus to take selfies in front of each landmark. As an honored guest of the local indigenous communities, you can have a more intimate, personal connection with the local families: what they eat, how they live, their values and beliefs.
Our hope is that you will leave not as the merely intrigued, curious visitor you might have arrived as, but as a valued acquaintance who parts company feeling you are part of this particular place and its people, history, and culture.
Our lives are the sum of our memories. Come make some with us. Take the road less traveled by, the path less intruded on. Life is a better deal when you feel you have paid a fair price for it. Let us be your guide to writing your own unforgettable travel stories.
Sustainable, Responsible Tourism
Sustainable or responsible eco-tourism involves travel to natural or indigenous areas in a way that improves the welfare of local people, minimizes negative environmental impacts, and helps conserve fragile cultures and habitats long term.
Sustainable, responsible tourism provides for once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences that support local communities in a way that is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. Conscientious travelers can feel good knowing they are giving back to the community, nature, and themselves all by having the most amazing, adventure vacation experience ever.
Community-based tourism is a model in which local residents invite tourists to visit their communities to discover local habitats and wildlife in their region and share their traditional meals, ancestral rituals, cultural activities, language, and values. Based on a fair-trade model, foreign visitors pay a fair price to the community residents in exchange for rich cultural activities, authentic local cuisine, and traditional accommodations. Community-based tourism supplements the community’s conventional farming and animal husbandry income and a portion is set aside for projects that benefit the community as a whole.
Community-based facilities often strive to balance the authenticity of rural community life with sufficient standards for the comfort of Western visitors, providing simple but clean sleeping rooms, modern (though often shared) bathrooms, along with electrical and phone access.
Community-based tourism has been gaining steady traction in recent decades, but is often hampered by lack of international visibility. Here, responsible tour operators play a vital role in connecting well-intentioned and inquisitive travelers to local community co-operatives. This social and economic enablement strengthens communities through increased awareness of the commercial and social value placed on their cultural heritage by tourists, thus fostering pride in their cultural identity and a desire to preserve their cultural heritage and natural resources.
“Ayni” in the Quechua language is a fundamental concept among the Andean people meaning mutual help or reciprocity. Ayni is not just about to being compensated for a task – it’s about the exchange of energy between human beings, the natural world, and the universe. At Native Tours, we believe that community-based tourism embodies the ancient Incan concept of “ayni”, where travelers experience a genuine and rich cultural exchange and communities enjoy social and economic empowerment.
Sustainable Tourism’s Potential For Positive Impact
Negative Impacts of Mass Tourism
As the world’s economy, technology, and transportation improve, larger numbers of people can visit more places affordably. Unfortunately, as tourism grows and becomes “massive”, there is often little planning or consideration of the detrimental ecological or sociological impacts of tourism development to a destination. This unsustainable approach to tourism is self-defeating in the long term, as the very areas that appeal to the tourist soon become unattractive due to unchecked development.
Mass tourism can have many detrimental effects:
- Displacement of local workers.
- Erosion of cultural heritage and identity.
- Exploitation of local workers.
- Leakage - It is estimated that, on average, less than 20% of the price of a tourist package is distributed locally (in some cases it's as low as 5%).
- Damage to local habitat and endangered species.
- Destruction of natural resources due to noise, litter, and air pollution.
Thus the paradox for tourism is to balance the tension between the enriching experience of learning about other cultures and places first-hand and the desire to maximize socio-economic benefits while minimizing the damage to local people, flora, and fauna. Fortunately, today there are options that provide viable, long-term socio-economic benefits for tourist areas with minimal negative environmental and social impact.
You, the traveler, can be part of the solution by selecting a sustainable, responsible tour operator.
Sustainable Tourism’s Potential For Positive Impact
Sustainable travel is where the tour operators, accommodations, and transportation providers are socially, culturally, economically, and environmentally responsible. Sustainable development implies "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." --World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987
A critical mass of new-age consumers want eco-friendly services and companies they can feel good about. Organizations such as the United Nations World Tourism Organization and The International Ecotourism Society acknowledge that “sustainable tourism has a tremendous opportunity to improve the livelihood of emerging market populations. Tourism is a crucial contributor to these countries’ income (up to 70% for the world’s poorest countries) and is included in the Poverty Reduction Strategies of more than 80% of low income countries.”
Sustainable tourism can have many positive impacts:
- Preservation of traditional customs, artisanal techniques, and festivals that might otherwise erode.
- Perpetuation of cultural identity, fostering of civic pride in the local population, and valuation of their local culture.
- Interchanges between local hosts and visiting guests promotes a better cultural understanding and can also help raise global awareness of issues such as human rights abuses and poverty.
- Tourism creates direct and indirect jobs, thus improving the livelihood of the local people.
- Tourism generates monies for governmental bodies to develop infrastructure.
- Nature and ecotourism can help promote awareness and desire for conservation of wildlife and natural resources such as rain forests, animal preserves, and marine parks. By creating alternative sources of employment, tourism can reduce problems such as over-fishing/over-farming, deforestation, and mining in developing nations.
At Native Tours, we believe that sustainable, responsible travel has the power to protect nature, benefit local communities, and preserve cultural heritage – the guiding principles of our social enterprise. It’s our commitment to these principles that drives our vision to be sustainability leaders.
Global Sustainable Tourism Council
The United Nations Foundation's Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria are an effort to standardize and measure sustainable responsible practices in the tourism industry:
- Demonstrate effective sustainable management through organizational stability, professional development, policies and compliance related to environmental, socio-cultural, quality, health, and safety standards, customer satisfaction, and accurate marketing and awareness of true sustainable eco-tourism (as opposed to “green-washed” tourism).
- Maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts through WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization) fair wages, safe working conditions, capacity-building, contribution to community projects, code of conduct for activities in indigenous communities, and purchase of fair-trade services and goods.
- Minimize negative impacts to cultural heritage and maximize benefits through customer explanations about local culture, cultural/linguistic heritage, and appropriate use/behavior is provided to customers before, during, and after tours, and Cultural Heritage Code of Ethics for cultural or historical activities.
- Minimize negative environmental impacts and maximize benefits through environmental Code of Ethics for activities, purchases, and behavior related to natural resources, explanations about the natural surroundings, eco-tourism criteria, and appropriate use/behavior is provided to customers before, during, and after tours, Waste/Water/Soil/Energy Management Plans with renewable energy adopted where possible, interactions with wildlife do not produce adverse effects and disturbances are minimized and rehabilitated, organization contributes to support of biodiversity conservation.
Sustainable, Community-Based Travel with Native Tours
We base our priorities on the UN Foundation’s criteria for Global Sustainable Tourism:
Our eco-friendly hiking, horseback, biking, rafting, yoga, and other wilderness adventure experiences are designed to inspire a passion for the responsible use and enjoyment of the outdoors and encourage the active conservation of our natural resources. We employ environmentally responsible business practices such as carbon offsetting.
We are committed to customer satisfaction and operational excellence as well as being an employer of choice. 50% of our earnings are reinvested to enhance our employee benefits, geographic reach, and quality of service ensuring the company and its mission remain viable.
Our culinary, spiritual, dance, and language-study educational experiences are designed to foster an appreciation for the cultural and linguistic heritage of the indigenous communities in which we do business.
We offer fair wages, health coverage, capacity-building, and safe working conditions for local workers. 70% of the tour price stays in Peru with the local workers and small businesses. We invest 50% of the organization’s proceeds in community-led projects to protect the environment and improve the livelihood of the local indigenous communities in which we work.
The Social Responsible Traveler
Socially responsible consumers care about conserving the environment, other cultures, and the indigenous people they meet during their travels. But how can they distinguish between "greenwashed" companies and truly sustainable eco-tour operators who treat local workers fairly, give back tot he community, and protect the environment? The United Nations Foundation's Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria are an effort to standardize and measure sustainable responsible practices in the tourism industry.
By supporting sustainable tour operators such as Native Tours, travelers can maximize social and economic benefits to the local communities while preserving the culture and environment of the places they visit. They can make their vacation count!