Our responsible and sustainable travel criteria | Fair Voyage

Our responsible and sustainable travel criteria

We strive to become the trusted and first-choice partner for conscious and discerning travellers as well as responsible tour operators who are leaders in sustainability in their markets locally and around the world. On this page, we explain our selection criteria with regards to responsible and sustainable tourism practices. As a traveller, we hope to inform you transparently about what we mean by verified responsible, and how we honor this sustainability commitment that we are making to you. As a tour operator, you will learn whether you already meet our partner criteria, or what you could do to qualify and partner with us.

Which companies does Fair Voyage promote?

Fair Voyage is promoting exclusively verified ethically and environmentally responsible tour operators and accommodations with a proven commitment to sustainability. To independently verify the commitment to sustainability and adherence to responsible tourism standards, we mostly rely on credible third party monitoring and certification organizations, to the extent available and as applicable for each destination.

We adopt a bottom-up screening approach – first screening against applicable local qualifications specific to a destination. Regional/global standards complement local qualifications, or provide a benchmark in the absence of more destination-specific initiatives.

How do I know whether my tour operator is responsible?

For all offers that we promote on Fair Voyage, we make fully transparent to you the applicable responsible and sustainable screening criteria that we use. In addition to our minimum criteria, there are also differences between tour operators – some going far beyond our minimum criteria. That's why we also make transparent the standards adopted by individual tour operator and/or for different offers.

In addition to third party certificates or programs, many tour operators run their own initiatives such as supporting local community projects in kind or by donating part of their profits. We aim to also highlight such initiatives, but are not able to independently verify them. We will therefore clearly highlight when information is provided directly by tour operators and not verified by us.

What are your local responsible & sustainable travel screening criteria?

We screen our tour operator partners against applicable local qualifications specific to a destination.

If there is:

  • an independent organization, that
  • offers a local monitoring program for the most relevant responsible and sustainable travel issues pertaining to a specific destination (or an activity at such destination), and
  • is open for all duly licensed tour operators to participate without excessive costs;

Then we make it mandatory that:

  • All our tour operator partners who promote such destination (or activity at the destination) must be participating with the available program and prove their commitment to sustainability by meeting the applicable minimum standards.
  • This requirement also applies to global or regional tour operators who wish to partner with us, even if such destination is only an insignificant part of their global offering, and even if tour operators do not wish to promote such destination via Fair Voyage.

What are your responsible travel criteria for Kilimanjaro operators?

For Kilimanjaro climbs, we only promote verified ethical climbs that are independently monitored by the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP). All local outfitters (and their international agents) have to be listed amongst the approved KPAP Partner companies on IMEC's official website. Read why:

The predominant problem caused by Kilimanjaro tourism is the exploitation of porters. The Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP) is the only independent organization that monitors porter treatment practices locally. Their Partner for Responsible Travel program is free and open for all duly licensed tour operators to join. To become an approved partner, outfitters have to prove their adherence to minimum fair porter treatment practices via KPAP's independent monitoring.

As KPAP is the only independent organization that offers such a program, we cooperate with KPAP and make participation with the KPAP Partner for Responsible Travel program mandatory for all our tour operator partners who offer Kilimanjaro climbs or other tourism activities in the Kilimanjaro National Park. This requirement also applies to global or regional tour operators who wish to partner with us for other destinations.

What are your regional responsible & sustainable travel criteria?

In addition to local criteria, we also screen our tour operator partners against relevant regional responsible and sustainable tourism qualifications.

At the moment, we work with Rainforest Alliance Certified tour operators in Central America as well as Fair Trade Tourism approved tour operators and accommodations in Southern Africa.

We are actively screening regions globally for relevant standards and will add more responsible and sustainable partner organizations as we continue to add more destinations worldwide to our offering.

What are your global responsible & sustainable travel criteria?

For many destinations globally, there are no credible local or regional responsible tourism initiatives in place that independently certify or monitor responsible and sustainable tourism standards. For all such cases, we rely on reputable global initiatives to independently verify our partners' commitment to sustainability. As a minimum, in the absence of more relevant local or regional certifications, we require our tour operator partners to have obtain at least Travelife Partner or TourCert Check status, depending on which scheme is available to them locally.

What is the best responsible & sustainable travel certification for tour operators globally?

We consider Travelife to be the most credible international certification organization in the field of responsible tourism, with the most comprehensive set of sustainability standards across social and environmental impact criteria. In addition, we also consider TourCert to be a credible responsible tourism certification organization, particularly well-known amongst tour operators and travellers in German-speaking countries.

Both Travelife and TourCert offer an entry-level award program – Travelife Partner and TourCert Check – which serves to familiarize tour operators globally with internationally recognized sustainability standards and prove a basic commitment to sustainability.

To monitor and verify actual practices for tour operators who wish to advance to the certification level, Travelife conducts a rigorous on-site audit. Tour operators who pass the audit process are awarded the Travelife Certified status and can truly be considered the sustainability champions amongst all tour operators globally.

Why do you not make Travelife Certification mandatory for all your suppliers?

At the moment, while responsible and sustainable tourism certifications are still a relatively new (yet fast growing) niche in tourism, only few tour operators in developing regions around the world have managed to reach the Travelife Certified status; and many countries do not yet have any certified tour operators at all.

In order to not exclude such destinations completely from our offering simply due to lack of certification initiatives, we currently also promote Travelife Partner and TourCert Check verified tour operators. In future, when certifications become more prevalent, and once tour operators globally have had a chance to meet global standards, we may require certification for all our partner companies.

As a responsible travel organization, how can I partner with you?

If you are a tour operator committed to sustainability, and believe that you meet our criteria, we welcome you to get in touch with us. Please send us your details via our new partner application form.

If you are a responsible tourism monitoring or certification organization, or an NGO dedicated to sustainability issues, and you would like to cooperate with us to promote the sustainability of your destination, please send us an email to partner@fairvoyage.com.

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