We believe that responsibly conducted nature tourism can help save natural areas, by contributing to the “business” of conservation. When traveling to the world’s parks and reserves, individuals help to protect them by supporting an economy in harmony with wildlife and habitat conservation.
When nature tourism creates jobs, it becomes a source of hard currency, providing local peoples with a financial stake in preserving wildlife. For ecotourism to be successful, local residents must benefit directly from tourism as a sustainable source of income. We work with local operators whose practices are in keeping with our ecotourism criteria, and with our own conservation ethic.
Code of Ecotourism Ethics
Oceanic Society Expeditions conducts ecotours with a non-invasive approach to viewing wildlife and wilderness exploration. As responsible organizers, we understand our role as guests in another country, and act to minimize our cultural impact. Our naturalists’ leadership experience enables us to enhance the quality of wildlife encounters, while minimizing our impact. We have developed and adopted the following guidelines:
Animals overtly respond to intrusive human behavior with defensive-aggressive posturing, vocalization, even flight. We use the following methods to avoid disturbing wildlife:
- All animals have escape distances, and when people intrude on this zone, animals move away. These distances vary among species, individuals and environmental circumstances. Naturalists look for behavioral cues which might suggest disturbance, and alert travelers accordingly.
- Animals observe us as we watch them. Some of our behaviors may be interpreted by animals as threatening. We move slowly and quietly when near wildlife, and remain at the periphery of animal groups, allowing wildlife to maintain their social organization.
- We provide travelers with “buyer beware” guidance on illegal wildlife products.
- Waste disposal: A “pack it back” ethic ensures that all trash created during nature walks, camping adventures and boat excursions is placed in appropriate disposal sites.
- Soil erosion: To preserve natural habitats our naturalists ensure that vehicles stay on the road except where otherwise permissible, in order to prevent damaging ecosystems and degrading wildlife habitats. We refrain from collecting plants, coral and other souvenirs.
- Coral reefs: Guidelines are provided for snorkeling to prevent breaking coral or stirring bottom sediment which could contribute to the destruction of delicate coral.
- Sand dunes: Some plants adapted to this habitat have a fragile hold on relatively unstable dunes. Naturalists guide travelers along the base of vulnerable dunes.
Code of Adventure Travel Ethics
(from the Ecumenical Coalition on Third World Tourism’s Code of Ethics for Tourists)
- Travel in a spirit of humility and with a genuine desire to learn more about the people of your host country. Be sensitively aware of the feelings of other people, thus preventing what might be offensive behavior on your part. This applies very much to photography.
- Cultivate the habit for listening and observing, rather than merely hearing and seeing.
- Realize that often the people in the country you visit have time concepts and thought patterns different from your own. This does not make them inferior, only different.
- Instead of looking for the “beach paradise,” discover the enrichment of seeing a different way of life, through other eyes.
- Acquaint yourself with local customs. What is courteous in one country may be quite the reverse in another-people will be happy to help you.
- Instead of the Western practice of “knowing all the answers,” cultivate the habit of asking questions.
- Remember that you are only one of thousands of tourists visiting this country and do not expect special privileges.
- If you really want your experience to be a “home away from home,” it is foolish to waste money on traveling.
- When you are shopping, remember that the “bargain” you obtained was possible because of the low wages paid to the maker.
- Do not make promises to people in your host country unless you can carry them through.
- Spend time reflecting on your daily experience in an attempt to deepen your understanding. It has been said that “what enriches you may rob and violate others.”
Oceanic Society Expeditions endorses and promulgates these principles, as well as our own code of environmental travel ethics.