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JUST THE FACTS : How to Pick an Eco-Tour

October 23, 1994

"Green" tours are all the rage, but the level of environmental commitment varies from company to company. Here are some questions to ask to help evaluate a tour operator's dedication to the principles of eco-tourism.

* Before departure, do travelers receive pertinent information, such as how to approach wildlife or explanations of local customs?

* How big are the tour groups? Does the company limit the group size? * Does the company use knowledgeable group leaders, such as local guides, naturalists or historians, and what is the ratio of tourists to guide? (A maximum of 20 to 1 is considered desirable.)

* Does the group stay in locally owned lodges that fit the environment?

* Does the local tour operator follow procedures that respect the environment? For example, is low-impact transportation used whenever practical, say canoes instead of powerboats?

* Does the tour operator donate money or equipment to help the local environment? What conservation organizations does it belong to?

* Are travelers encouraged to contribute to local conservation efforts?

Source: Travel Weekly

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