Alternative Peru - Responsible Travel Experiences

What is responsible tourism?

The Cape Town Declaration, the founding document of the Responsible Tourism Movement, defines Responsible Tourism as travel and tourism which:

  • Minimizes negative economic, environmental, and social impacts;
  • Generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities, improves working conditions and access to the industry;
  • Involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances;
    Makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity;
  • Provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues;
  • Is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.

How do we make sure our tours are ‘responsible’?

Our strategy to offer responsible tourism in Peru is actually quite simple. From the very beginning, we work closely together with the local people. We consider them as equal partners in the projects and they are involved in all decisions. The local people working for the project, which includes cooks, guides, cleaners and drivers, are also paid a decent salary so this income provides them a comfortable living and financial stability. This not only improves their own well-being and conditions but also of the community. But perhaps more importantly, our tours respect and promote the host communities’ culture. Activities focus on the traditions and local culture of the community: visitors can participate in workshops on traditional architecture or agriculture, handicrafts, local food and cooking habits, etc.

The tours focus on an authentic experience for tourists and a culturally sensitive, respectful encounter between tourists and hosts.

Nowadays, unfortunately, many of these traditions are disappearing because of outside influences as for instance the use of cement instead of adobe or the use of chemicals in agriculture. The income that our and similar tours generate, encourages communities to conserve these traditions. The interest and the admiration of travelers, who often come from far away, for their culture is also a source of pride of the local community. The same applies to the community’s natural environment. The interest and income encourage a greater effort in conserving their surroundings. The tours focus on an authentic experience for tourists and a culturally sensitive, respectful encounter between tourists and hosts. Nothing is put into scene and people are not asked to pretend or act differently than they normally do. Tourists are informed about the particular culture and customs in the community they will visit before they arrive and they will be made aware of any rules of behavior they should respect.

The aim of this tour is to offer an authentic intercultural exchange in an urban setting.

The city-tours aim to introduce visitors to the diversity of Lima and Peru, making them aware that Lima cannot be reduced to Miraflores or the historical center. It is a vivid and dynamic city with a very diverse population. The tour takes them to some of the poorest parts of the city but does not focus on poverty or wants to make the visitors feel bad. It instead focuses on optimism and hope and shows the efforts and initiatives to improve the lives of kids, teenagers and adults in these human settlements. The aim of this tour is to offer an authentic intercultural exchange in an urban setting.

Responsible Tourism Policy

Alternative Peru’s mission is to help grow responsible tourism in Peru because we believe it has great potential to strengthen Peru’s economy in a sustainable way and to replace harmful non-sustainable economic activities that are now driving Peru’s economy but are not decreasing inequality. Therefore, Alternative Peru creates and offers authentic off-the-beaten-path tours for travelers visiting Peru. Tourism in Peru tends to focus on only certain areas of the country, which means that benefits from tourism are also concentrated in certain areas. At Alternative Peru, we know that Peru has so much more to offer. That’s why we want to give travelers the chance to discover some of the lesser known places of Peru, which allows them to experience Peruvian culture on a different level than if they would only visit the main tourist attractions. This will also ensure that more local people benefit from the growing amount of travelers to Peru.

Economic responsibility

For our tours, we employ a very diverse group of local people. When we work with local partners, we make sure they employ or are run by local people as well. For some tours, we work with local guides who know their community and environment very well but are not tourism professionals. We pair them up with a bilingual tour leader and build their capacity in working with tourists, providing services and sometimes also learn English. This way, we assure we are employing some of the most vulnerable persons (single mothers as local cooks or guides, young women from human settlements as local guides, etc.

In addition, for every tour we make a donation to the NGOs that are visited on the tours to support their projects. We also offer the visitors the possibility to continue to support the NGO’s projects. A few visitors have entered a scholarship program we are offering, supporting kids and teenagers to continue to go to after school support and later to university.

Environmental responsibility

We try to work paper-less, providing all details of our tours through our website, PDF-documents and emails. In our office, we try to use as much recycled and recyclable materials as possible.

Where possible, we use public transport options.

Many of our tours promote environmental awareness and aim to educate on environmental issues. In particular, our Amazon tours focus on responsible contact with nature and understanding the challenges our environment faces today. Travelers stay in eco-lodges that are built in the traditional local style.

Social responsibility

Our tours respect and promote the host communities’ culture. Activities focus on the traditions and local culture of the community: visitors can participate in workshops on traditional architecture or agriculture, handicrafts, local food and cooking habits, etc. The income that our and similar tours generate, encourages communities to conserve these traditions. The interest and the admiration of travelers, who often come from far away, for their culture is also a source of pride of the local community. The tours focus on an authentic experience for tourists and a culturally sensitive, respectful encounter between tourists and hosts. Nothing is put into scene and people are not asked to pretend or act differently than they normally do. Tourists are informed about the particular culture and customs in the community they will visit before they arrive and they will be made aware of any rules of behavior they should respect.