You may be baffled by the number of acronyms and organisations associated with bookings, flights and travel? Well you are certainly not alone! We have put together the following information as a very brief introduction to and explanation of some of the acronyms and titles that are relevant to adventure travel, responsible travel and volunteering.


AITO – the Association of Independent Travel Operators –
A trade organisation specifically for independent operators as opposed to the larger corporate operators. Members are independent companies, most of them owner-managed and specialising in particular destinations or types of holiday. When a company applies for registration the trade organisation checks that they fulfil certain requirements in terms of quality and customer protection. Members agree to abide by a code of conduct and to fulfil other obligations set out by the association.

ABTOT – Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust –
A bonding association for travel operators which provides financial protection to the operator’s clients in terms of financial provision should the operator suffer financial problems. The specific difference between ABTOT and ATOL is that operators who do not sell flights do not need to have ATOL bonding and can therefore register with ABTOT instead. Financial bonding is a legal requirement of the Package Travel, Package Holiday and Package Tours Regulations 1992.
ABTA - Association of British Travel Agents –
One of a number of trade organisations with which British travel agents and operators can register. When a company applies for registration the trade organisation checks that they fulfil certain requirements in terms of quality and customer protection. Members agree to abide by a code of conduct and to fulfil other obligations set out by the association.
ATOL – Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing –
A licensing organisation to which agents and operators must belong if they sell flights or packages that include flights. ATOL membership will provide for financial bonding which will secure passengers’ money and costs should the travel operator suffer financial problems. It will make sure that the passengers can get home if they have already departed and ensure that they are re-funded their money if they have not already left home.
IATA – The International Air Transport Association –
IATA serves as an intermediary between airlines and passenger as well as cargo agents via neutrally applied agency service standards and centralized financial systems. It is the central body which administers standards of safety and best practice for air travel. Clearly it needs to provide a central point for a large number of airlines and over a huge number of potentially very different countries and cultures.

AALA - Adventure Activities Licensing Authority -
Administered via the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) the aim of adventure activities licensing is to provide assurances to the public about the safety of those activity providers who have been granted a licence.  The applicability of the licence scheme is for UK-based adventurous activities. The main organisations that would be licensed would be activities and outdoor pursuit centres.
A licence indicates that the provider has been inspected by the Adventure Activities Licensing Service on behalf of the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, with particular attention being paid to their safety management systems with young people, and has been able to demonstrate compliance with nationally accepted standards of good practice in the delivery of adventure activities to young people, with due regard to the benefits and risks of the activity.

BS8848 - Specification for the provision of visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities, outside the United Kingdom –
This is a British Standard Code of Practice that specifies operational requirements for organizers of adventurous and educational activities abroad. This includes university and academic fieldwork, gap year experiences, adventure holidays, charity challenges and research expeditions. Compliance is not mandatory but it serves as a benchmark against which performance can be measured when required. It condenses and codifies best practice guidance on preparation and execution of adventurous activities abroad. Those wishing to claim conformance with BS 8848 can do so through self-declaration, or through other-party assessment, or by certification by an independent accredited organization.
LOTC – Council for Learning Outside The Classroom -
The council for LOTC are a central organisation which promotes the use of outdoor activities as part of educational curricula. They publish guidance and advice on best practice for teachers and also provide training and Continued Professional Development. LOTC administers a membership and accreditation scheme through which schools and activity providers can be assessed and verified as providing appropriate services to support learning outside the classroom.
EPA – the Expedition Providers’ Association – www.
EPA is a membership organisation, specifically for the overseas youth expedition sector. The EPA’s objectives are broad but around the theme of promoting best practice in the schools and youth expeditions sector. Membership is made up of expedition providers catering for young adults under 25 in full-time education.  By joining the EPA members become part of a network of industry professionals available for consultation on a wide range of issues. After successful application involving demonstrating compliance with certain standards of provision, members agree to adhere to a strict code of practice covering all activities associated with planning and execution of overseas youth expeditions.
STF – School Travel Forum -
The STF is more than a membership organisation but all Assured Members of the STF are required to adhere to a rigorous Code of Practice and Safety Management Standards and be audited each year by Argent Health & Safety, the UK’s leading Health and Safety Consultancy specialising in Travel, to ensure continuing compliance. As with virtually all of the accreditation and membership organisations there is an audit and annual subscription fee that must be paid.
UIAA - Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme -
The UIAA is the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation. In the spirit of sport and friendship it brings together nearly 1.3 million men, women and children joined by their passion for mountains. As a global community of volunteers, our members exchange ideas, give guidance and work together. The Association represents around 80 Member Federations around the globe. Its primary significance to users of mountain environments is in certifying equipment, training and qualifications. It also has a large amount of advice and guidance for travellers in the mountains.
BMC – The British Mountaineering Council –
The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) is the representative body that exists to protect the freedoms and promote the interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers, including ski-mountaineers. It acts as a central point for bringing together individuals and organisations involved in the use of the mountains in the UK and abroad by UK members. It has a lot of information available as advice and guidance to the public and also offers specialist travel insurance policies with discounts for members.


ETOG – Ethical Tour Operators Group -
Administered by the registered charity organisation Tourism Concern, ETOG is formed by a group of small to medium size tour operators that strive to improve their Ethical and Responsible Tourism practices. We allow members to exchange ideas, explore and promote best practice - in a non-competitive atmosphere. It is a membership organisation where members undergo a vetting procedure that looks at their practices in relation to sustainable and ethical tourism.
ETOG have guidance available that is equally relevant to tour operators and clients looking to evaluate organisations’ credentials and performance,

STI – Sustainable Travel International –
Sustainable Travel International’s mission is to help destinations, businesses, and travellers develop and implement innovative solutions that protect the environment, support adaptation to climate change, preserve cultural heritage, and generate economic benefits. STI provide a source of guidance, advice and training and also administer audits on providers of package tours as well as individual services such as hotels, transport, tourism boards, visitor centres etc.

IPPG – International Porter Protection Group –
IPPG aims to improve safety and health for porters working in the mountains for the trekking industry worldwide. They work to eradicate avoidable illness, injury and death. They do this by raising awareness of the issues among travel companies, guides, trek leaders, sirdars (porters’ foremen), and trekkers. IPPG also supports porters in their quest for a decent wage and freedom from overloading. Although it is officially an international association it is mainly focussed on porters in Nepal. It’s most widely known initiative is the IPPG 5 guidelines on the treatment of porters, which is quoted and referenced by a large number of other organisations.

KPAP – Kilimanjaro Porters’ Assistance Project -
KPAP is a registered Tanzanian NGO (non-governmental organization) initially conceived by International Mountain Explorers Connection, a non-profit organization based in Boulder, Colorado. The objectives of KPAP are in supporting and promoting the rights of the porters on Kilimanjaro. This includes access to food and shelter, equipment and fair wages. It does not charge porters for membership in the same way that a union might. One of the main things the project aims to do is to educate overseas clients on the issues of porters’ treatment and therefore using a market-led incentive for operators to ensure their fair treatment.

FTTSA – Fair trade Tourism in South Africa -
Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) is a non-profit organisation that promotes sustainable tourism development. It is a good source of information and best practice on ethical and responsible travel. FTTSA awards the use of special label to qualifying businesses as a way of signifying their commitment to Fair Trade criteria including fair wages and working conditions, fair purchasing, fair operations, equitable distribution of benefits and respect for human rights, culture and environment.

GSTC - Global Sustainable Tourism Council –
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) serves as the international body for fostering increased knowledge and understanding of sustainable tourism practices, promoting the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles and building demand for sustainable travel.  This is accomplished through the work executed by its diverse programs:  international standard-setting, destinations, education and training, market access, and accreditation. Providers and organisations can sign up as members in order to participate in the programmes. Applicants are assessed against certain membership criteria associated with the principles of the organisation.

ICRT – International Centre for Responsible Tourism –
The ICRT is a community of Responsible Tourism Practitioners in business, government, NGOs, conservation and heritage. Their work focuses on the principles of the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations. They publish papers related to responsible tourism and in 2011 began a journal also. The centre is closely linked to Leeds Metropolitan University and in partnership they offer accredited Masters and PhD programmes related to responsible tourism.   

TICOS – The Tourism Industry Carbon Service –
TICOS is an industry wide programme to stimulate collective action by all tour operators and travel agents selling holidays which include air or other forms of travel. TICOS is both a carbon reduction programme and a carbon offset service.  Revenue raised from the service funds projects across the globe where there is a real additional and measurable carbon saving and wider social benefit which favours the environment, wildlife, pro poor policies and community improvements.

TIES - The International Ecotourism Society -
TIES is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting ecotourism in general. Through membership services, industry outreach and educational programs, TIES aims to help organisations, communities and individuals promote and practice the principles of ecotourism. TIES currently has members in more than 120 countries, representing various professional fields and industry segments including: academics, consultants, conservation professionals and organizations, governments, architects, tour operators, lodge owners and managers, general development experts, and eco-tourists.
Membership is charged on an annual basis and gives various marketing benefits to the member as well as obliging the member to adhere to a membership code of conduct. – Tourism Concern is a registered charity that carries out campaigns sparked by the needs reported to them by the communities and organisations at destination countries, or by travellers who have witnessed problems on their holiday. Tourism concern offers a range of guidance and information on ethical tourism practices and publishes The Ethical Travel Guide.

UNWTO – United Nations World Tourism Organisation –
UNWTO is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. It encourages the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, to maximize tourism’s socio-economic contribution while minimizing its possible negative impacts It has many resources available for travellers and organisations that will help them to understand responsible tourism and how to contribute to it. Probably the most useful of the information is contained within the publications dealing with the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). – Code of conduct for the protection of children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. - An independent UK charity which helps the travel industry to understand, manage and take effective action on sustainable tourism. It has a very wide remit and gives access to a huge amount of guidance and information on responsible tourism issues. - Irresponsible Tourism is a forum designed to give all travellers an opportunity to blow the whistle on practices in the travel and tourism industry which you think are irresponsible, and to discuss them with others. - The Responsible Tourism Partnership works to help businesses and communities around the world to maximise their potential for responsible tourism through a range of activities and initiatives. The partnership has various resources that are useful as prompts to make sure you and the company that you are planning to travel with are using responsible, sustainable and effective methods. – Business fights poverty is a network of business and development professionals. It effectively acts as a central hub for sharing blog, stories and information related to poverty alleviation and International development. In a fairly strong show of purpose, instead of a membership fee the network encourages members to make a loan to an entrepreneur through an in-house lending scheme. – Global Footprint Network aims to address issues of sustainability from a largely technical perspective of the Ecological Footprint. It provides tools and programs that can help organisations and individuals to evaluate their ecological footprint and it also has resources to explain the background and context to these measurements.


FTV – Fair Trade Volunteering –
FTV has been created and established by leading volunteer organisations and advisors in the travel industry to enable volunteers to make a choice as to which volunteer experience they would like to have and to give organisations wishing to provide FTV projects guidelines, help and support to be able to deliver them. The aim of FTV is to identify a FTV model, establish a fair balance between all parties involved and to ensure placements are developed to provide genuine benefit to the project and the volunteers which take part in them. All organisations which are signed up to the FTV Trade Mark agree to meet the five FTV criteria, created to help achieve this balance.

Comhlamh - (pronounced 'co-law-ve', Irish for 'solidarity') -
An organisation with a broad remit around the theme of social justice. It was set up by development workers in Ireland who had returned from work abroad. Therefore a central aspect of their work is around objectives of improving the quality of volunteering work abroad and in maximising the benefits to the communities visited, to the volunteer themselves and to the community from which the volunteer originated. Comhlamh produce guidance and advice documents that volunteers and organisations can use to further these aims. Their Volunteer Charter is a great tool for those looking to ensure that they give and get the most out of their volunteering activities.

Demos is an independent think-tank focused on power and politics. It publishes a large range of reports related to international relations and society but one that is particularly relevant is Service International by Jonathan Birdwell (ISBN 978 1 906693 75 6) which reviews the pilot schemes in the International Citizenship Scheme. It gives a good critical review and advice relating to overseas volunteering activities and how to help maximise the positive outcomes associated with these ventures.

GIVS – Group for International Volunteering Standards -
GIVS is an initiative led by Tourism Concern and seeks to ensure that volunteering is a force for good by collaborating with ethical and responsible international volunteering organisations that are passionate about maximising the positive developmental outcomes of volunteering, whilst also working to minimise potential negative impacts. Organisations can sign up as members of the group, every new member will be assessed under the GIVS standard to assess the standards of their volunteering provision.

IVPA - International Volunteer Programs Association -
IVPA is an association of non-governmental organizations involved in international volunteer work and internship exchanges. Members are expected to uphold the IVPA's Principles and Practices as guidelines for good programming as well as meet stringent membership criteria. IVPA can also serve as a guide to anyone considering volunteering abroad or developing international service opportunities. IVPA serves as a forum for international volunteer program representatives (staff, board members, etc.) to share information and resources, develop new skills, and collaborate on cost-saving initiatives.

NIDOS – Network of International Development Organisations -
NIDOS is a network of international development organisations with a base in Scotland. We work to improve the effectiveness of our members and the wider international development sector in Scotland by: Building strength and capacity within international development organisations in Scotland, Improving communication and networking amongst international development organisations in Scotland, representing the views and interests of our member organisations to policy and decision makers. Although the organisation is based in Scotland and its remit only extends to Scottish organisations it can still be used as a useful source of information and best practice.

ODI - The Overseas Development Institute –
The ODI is an independent UK think tank on international development and humanitarian issues. It’s stated mission is to inspire and inform policy and practice which lead to the reduction of poverty, the alleviation of suffering and the achievement of sustainable livelihoods in developing countries. We do this by locking together high quality applied research, practical policy advice, and policy-focused dissemination and debate. We work with partners in the public and private sectors, in both developing and developed countries. The institute publishes notes and documents dealing with a huge range of issues related to the wide scope of overseas development.

RGS – The Royal Geographical Society –
The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the UK's learned society and professional body for geography, founded in 1830. Whilst the focus of the society is obviously on promotion or geography it also acts as a fantastic base of knowledge and advice on expeditions and overseas initiatives. It offers free online access to a huge amount of information and advice through its “Expeditions and Fieldwork” publications. In addition, its publications related to Gap Years also cover a very broad range of advice relevant to volunteering and youth trips as well as expeditions in general.

UNV – United Nations Volunteers –
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. UNV partners with governments and with UN, non-profit and private sector organizations in order to support development programmes. UN Volunteers help to organize and run local and national elections and support a large number of peacekeeping and humanitarian projects. UN Volunteers comprise one third of all international civilians working in UN peacekeeping operations. UNV also operates the Online Volunteering service, which connects development organizations directly with thousands of online volunteers who can provide services and advice over the internet.

YET – The Young Explorers’ Trust –
The YET is a national charity dedicated to promoting safe and responsible expeditions for young people. It does this by providing advice and support to schools, youth organisations, commercial expedition providers and groups of friends who intend to run their own youth expedition. As the national voice of youth expeditions the YET also offers a wide range of practical assistance to aspiring or experienced expedition leaders and commercial providers alike. - The Big Society Network exists to support and develop talent, innovation and enterprise to deliver social impact. By working with business, philanthropists, charities and social ventures we believe we can unleash the social energy that exists in the UK to help build a better, healthier society. - Planeterra is a non-profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve their environment, and provide supportive solutions to local problems. - Voluntourism101 is a tool created to help tour operators and volunteer sending agencies check their practices against the most effective practices shared by groups around the world.  It is also a tool for travellers to help them identify the best questions to ask before their next philanthropic travel experience. – Social Enterprise UK are the national body for social enterprise, they provide consultancy services to organisations including Local Authorities, Primary Care Trusts, social enterprises, charities looking to become more social enterprising and companies seeking to include social enterprise in their CSR programmes. There are a huge number of freely downloadable advice documents on their website. - Student Hubs works across the UK to transform student involvement in social action. They seek to 'act as a catalyst, empowering students to become active members of their community by promoting social action, social entrepreneurship and citizenship'. They have a network of ‘Hubs’ in universities that increase student involvement in social action and ensure these efforts are effective and sustainable. They currently work in the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Oxford Brookes, Imperial, Southampton and Warwick – with a membership of over 20,000 students, 100 student groups and 20 national NGOs. The organisation has various guides and resources for users and also offers training and advice as well as connecting various users. Their Impact International programme is or particular relevance.

Well, I think that is quite enough for now. If you come accross and fantastic sites or resources that you think other clients should know about just let us know and we will add them to the list.

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