GROUND builds journeys that offer opportunities for teams to interact with underserved communities, contribute to community development through sustainable projects and discover the authentic character of the host country. The goal is to create a transformative experience for both the team and the community.
GROUND advocates for a more holistic approach to sustainability: it is an essential component of leaving a livable planet for our children. Responsible travel practices are at the core of GROUND’S business and we are committed to promoting sustainability throughout our supply chain.
Our Community Development Approach
GROUND believes community development is about interacting with all people based on mutual respect. It is about removing barriers that prevent people from participating fully in the issues that affect their lives and the lives of others.
We assess the needs of each community and allow the roles of project participants to be defined organically. Our aim is to build the skills and capacities through thoughtful engagement between teams and the local community. GROUND is a facilitator and moderator of change but we push for both community and teams to collaborate face to face to create the changes together. We empower the community to make the changes they want to avoid the community’s dependence on GROUND or any one donor or team.
- Learning: Recognize the skills, knowledge and expertise that both the local community and visiting teams can contribute.
- Equality: Build capacity for a marginalized sectors of the community and promote equality and prevent discrimination.
- Need-Based: Put community needs first and promote environmental sustainability.
- Participation: Challenge the attitude of giver versus recipient and create an equal co-development approach that facilitates democratic involvement by people in the issues that affect their lives.
- Cooperation: Work together with multiple organizations, experts, and sectors of society to identify and implement action based on mutual respect and consideration of cultural differences.
Child Safe Tourism
Organizations and travelers each have a responsibility to keep children safe from abuse. Children in tourist areas are especially vulnerable to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Sometimes, without realizing, travelers may inadvertently expose children to a cycle of abuse. GROUND helps minimize harm to children and creates a Child Safe environment.
The Child Safe Tourism campaign arms organizations like GROUND with the knowledge and information to create child safe travellers. GROUND supports the Child Safe Tourism campaign by educating staff and travellers on the issues and includes the Child Safe workshop in our preparations.
Travellers Against Plastic (TAP)
GROUND supports TAP, a USA-based non-profit organization that educates the travel industry on the importance of reducing plastic waste. TAP recommends using reusable water containers instead of buying single use plastic bottles. GROUND contributes to this vision wherever possible.
There are positive and negative aspects of travellers encountering wild animals in Southeast Asia. It raises awareness of threatened and endangered native species and creates interest in supporting conservation efforts. On the other hand, unscrupulous operators often exploit animals. GROUND strives to understand the scope of our impacts on animals and their habitats and work diligently to ensure we work with trusted partners when animals are involved.
GROUND adheres to the following code with regards to animals:
- We partner with conservation organizations to raise awareness of animal welfare best practices to share with travellers, suppliers and government agencies.
- We continually assess our performance in safeguarding animal welfare within our supply chain and assist our industry partners to do so as well.
- We oppose illegal practices and those that have a negative impact on animal welfare. GROUND believes animals have the right to be free from hunger, thirst, pain and discomfort.
GROUND adheres to the following guidelines where elephants are concerned:
- Elephants should not be taken from the wild for use in captive environments.
- Elephants, especially young ones introduced to camps, should never go through cruel domestication rituals.
- Elephants should have regular health checks by animal specialists and veterinarians.
- Elephants should have access to adequate drinking water and appropriate food that encourages natural feeding behavior.
- Enclosures should be clean, hygienic and well maintained.
- Elephant experience providers should keep the chaining of elephants to a minimum, i.e. only a few hours per day.
- Positive enforcement training methods should be employed and use of the elephant’s ankus (bull-hook) should be kept to a minimum.
- Elephants should not be trained to perform unnatural actions, for example, tightrope walks or painting pictures.
- Contact between tourists and elephants should only take place under supervised conditions.