Responsible Travel Policy

‘Volunteer abroad’ opportunities have experienced a boom in recent years, with an increased number of well-meaning holidaymakers taking part in projects geared around making a difference - be that to wildlife, the environment, or communities. While many of these opportunities are genuine and beneficial to all parties involved, it is an unfortunate truth that some are not. To ensure that our volunteers have the best, most honest, and most meaningful experience, we’ve committed to a responsible travel policy. This policy enables us to provide the best volunteer experiences possible, with benefits to everyone involved in our animal welfare projects and eco-tours.

Our responsibility as a company

Here at The Great Projects, we believe that we hold a responsibility not only to animal welfare, but also to the environmental, economic and social impacts of our conservation projects as a whole. This policy also extends to our volunteers.

Environmental and Animal Welfare Responsibilities

As all of our projects concern ecotourism with regards to animals and a diverse array of environments, it is essential that we work towards implementing conservation goals and supporting them. We commit to this by:

  • Using fixed group sizes to avoid putting pressure on the surrounding environment and the species of wildlife present within it.
  • Educating and training local communities where necessary on conservation and environmental management.
  • Encouraging volunteers to adopt environmentally friendly practices.
  • Enforcing a 'no animal contact' policy for animals that are in the process of rehabilitation and subsequent release.
  • Working towards reforestation and environmental preservation of a diversity of environments – including game reserves, coral reefs and rainforests.
  • Teaching volunteers the importance of environmental conservation and also the best possible methods for animal rehabilitation.
  • Providing the best staff to educate volunteers in first-class environmental and animal welfare initiatives.

Responsibilities to Our Projects

We believe that a basic necessity of our projects is to fit in with local needs and requirements, serving to address local issues. We have the following responsibilities as a tourism company:

  • To ensure that the project is based on realistic and achievable aims/objectives – meeting the needs of the host community.
  • To provide volunteers with skills that match the needs of the projects.
  • To work in partnership with local governments, organisations and the host community.
  • To ensure that projects are sustainable to avoid dependency by the host community.
  • To ensure volunteers work with, not instead of local workers
  • To provide appropriate resources and support to those involved in running our volunteer projects.
  • To provide ongoing evaluation and monitoring of our volunteer projects.

Responsibilities to Our Volunteers

In addition to the above, we also have a responsibility to our volunteers in order to provide them with meaningful projects based on solid responsible volunteering principles. The responsibilities and commitments we ensure to our volunteers include:

  • Providing an honest and accurate image of the companies and charities that we are associated with, with regards to their true values and objectives.
  • Providing free, fair and unbiased information on the company and the projects that we offer.
  • Preparing volunteers for the project through information on different cultures, what to expect and overall orientation programmes.
  • Providing continual support for volunteers. From the moment they book until after they return home, volunteers have 24-hour access to our support team allowing for issues to be quickly dealt with.
  • Ensuring the health and safety and wellbeing of volunteers to protect them from harm and potentially harming others.
  • Recognising the importance of volunteers and value their contribution – helping them to realise the importance of their effort and overall volunteer work.

Economic Responsibilities

We believe that we have a range of economic responsibilities to uphold in order to ensure that the host communities benefit financially from our projects. We do this by upholding the following economic responsibilities:

  • Helping to create a local economy through employing locals, using local accommodation and sourcing food and products locally where possible.
  • Ensuring that the cost of the volunteer placement is covered and paid directly to the relevant local partners.
  • Ensuring that the donations are given to community development projects, charity partners and to the projects themselves.
  • Operating a policy of financial transparency by providing a breakdown of costs, and how and where money is spent.

Socio-Cultural Responsibilities

We also believe that the needs of the host community should lie at the heart of all of our volunteer placements. By understanding the host community and building equal partnerships based on mutual trust and respect, volunteer placements can run successfully. We do this by upholding the following:

  • We respect the host communities and their values, attitudes and beliefs, and we encourage our volunteers to do the same
  • We help to create local employment opportunities, resulting in an alternative sustainable income for many local communities
  • We support and develop local infrastructure, healthcare and education, creating a better life for communities as a result of tourism
  • We work with local people to develop and train them with relevant, useful skills which can provide them with a sustainable future.