RGV are now ‘TourCert’ proofed for volunteering
There are loads of organisations in the tourism industry, and with it being such a big market, it’s super important that there are certain regulations are in place for businesses to adhere to. This is not just about ensuring quality, but also that these companies behave in an ethical and sustainable manner.
Yet, in the past, this criteria wasn’t available for volunteer organisations, meaning each supplier could have their own rules on what makes them ‘ethical’ or ‘sustainable’. However, from this year, volunteering was accepted by TourCert in the same way that tourism businesses are, which means that Rainbow Garden Village are now proudly working to TourCert standards.
TourCert, in their own words, “unites experts in tourism, academia, environment, development, and politics. With many years of experience we are committed to responsible tourism. Travel for Tomorrow means making the travel industry fit for the future and also sensitizing travellers on achieving a positive contribution for everyone involved with their holidays.” Rainbow Garden Village were proud to work with TourCert in creating these criteria, and to be the first volunteer organisation going through this process.
Rainbow Garden Village has long been committed to working in an ethical and sustainable manner, and already works to standards set by numerous different organisations across all projects. We have over 19 years experience in developing an approach which makes sure that it benefits everyone, from the applicants and volunteers, through to the projects, communities and most importantly, the people who need them.
By working with TourCert, we can ensure that a standard is held across the entire volunteering industry, which are laid out below:
'Voluntourism' represents a form of travel in which two new perspectives arise in comparison to other travel offers: As volunteers, the travel guests themselves become actors involved in a project. And the selected project becomes part of the travel offer and the guests location.
For these two additional travel components, independent criteria are needed to ensure that the travelers themselves are well protected, prepared and qualified to participate. On the other hand, the project is implemented effectively and well. All other criteria in this catalogue of criteria for sustainable travel design also apply to this type of travel product.
4.1 The project: project standards and monitoring
The organizers cooperate with projects from the ecological, social and/or economic-socio-ecological fields. When selecting and implementing projects, ecological, social and economic criteria are taken into account, human rights due diligence is observed and the following standards are set:
4.1.1 The promoters are personally known and carefully selected. Collegial, respectful and honest dealings with one another are standard.
4.1.2 The project arises from the needs of the local structures and is oriented towards them. It remains self-sufficient in the long term, without being dependent on the respective tour operator and the volunteers sent.
4.1.3 Project cooperation is based on a long-term approach. The tour operator continuously supports the further development of the project and sends volunteers to participate.
4.1.4 The project assignments generate local added value. The focus is on local jobs with fair working conditions. The volunteers are added as additional supporters and learners.
*4.1.5 *The project assignments have a minimum duration of 4 weeks. Particularly in the social sector, care is taken to ensure that volunteers do not become the main recipients of children and young people.
4.1.6 For all participants (tour operators, volunteers, local project promoters) there is a code of conduct outlining the cooperation, rights and obligations of the participants as well as risks, prohibitions and approaches to solving problems that arise.
4.1.7 For projects with children, there is an additionally developed child protection policy for all participants to take note of. There is a child protection officer on site.
4.1.8 Projects in orphanages and childrens homes are excluded.
4.1.9 Projects with young animals, which allow direct contact and thus the later prevent the reintroduction of the animals are excluded (for example, projects with lion cubs that are bred for killing, so called Blood Lions).
4.1.10 The quality of a project and the offered project stays are determined by quality standards are assured. These include:
A project plan with common goals and further development opportunities for the project is created, which is reviewed and adapted on an annual basis.
Weekly feedback as well as annual reports on the development and status quo of the project are also used for further development and optimisation. The reports provide transparent information about the implemented measures, their effect and the use of the money.
Installation of a comprehensive feedback mechanism in which the organiser himself, the volunteers and also the project sponsors including all employees of the project are involved. At the core of the feedback mechanism are extensive feedback forms for all participants. After evaluation, the feedback flows into the optimisation of the project.
In addition, annual on-site checks and personal discussions are carried out between the project management organisation, the project staff and the tour operator.
4.2 The volunteers as actors in the journey
The volunteers of a voluntary tourism project have a special role to play, as they become actors as travellers and interact closely with the local people, animals and culture in the course of their project work. Selection, preparation, on-site support and aftercare therefore play a very important role. For example, all volunteer tourism providers have extensive volunteer management structures.
*4.2.1 * The tour operator has introduced and established a comprehensive selection procedure for volunteers. In principle, volunteers must not be under the minimum age of 16 or 18. Volunteers must present the following documents with their registration: - A completed participant questionnaire - A letter of motivation - A curriculum vitae - An extended police clearance certificate - A health certificate - The signing of a general code of conduct and a child protection policy for projects involving contact with children. - Where applicable, evidence of the skills required for the project. The final stage of the registration process is a personal interview between the tour operator and the volunteers and a language proficiency check.
4.2.2 In addition, the tour operator will prepare and follow up the volunteers intensively and in a manner appropriate to the project. In addition, on-site supervision is guaranteed. This is done according to the following standards: - There is an online/offline preparation seminar with information on the country of assignment, cultural habits and details of the project deployment, which all volunteers received. - Delivery of a comprehensive information package including all relevant Information about the country, the respective project, the stay on site as well as hints for follow-up on return. - Explanation and signing of the rules of conduct and the child protection policy. - A welcoming seminar with a detailed introduction to the project will take place on site.
- There is a telephone hotline with 24h emergency call to the organizer in the home country and the Contact person on site.
- A personal supervisor is available for the volunteers on site as a permanently qualified contact person at your disposal. Regular feedback discussions are held with the the respective contact persons.
- After return the tour operator guarantees a careful aftercare of the Volunteers. In addition to obtaining detailed feedback, there is an optional personal feedback discussion and the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with other returning volunteers.
4.3 Ethical marketing and external communication
4.3.1 The marketing and external communication of travel and projects shall be based on ethical principles and shall provide transparent, honest and authentic travel information. It places the projects in development policy contexts and describes the role of the travel guest with a focus on project support and insight into the project work. This also includes: - the prohibition of image editing that distorts the context and real circumstances - an ethically appropriate, dignified representation of poverty - the exclusive use of photos with children and other persons who are subject to permission was obtained. The privacy of all parties must be respected.
4.3.2 In the course of marketing the projects, the organizer shall disclose transparently which part of the money flows directly into the projects and what it is used for.