Sustainable tourism: Local support with Walks

Responsible travel is promoted

How do Walks promote responsible traveling?

The company’s main strategy is to encourage slow, responsible travel and sustainable tourism. It has chosen local guides whose sole purpose is to help visitors feel a connection with the city. Many of us will develop an affection for the city, its residents, its culture, and its past by learning about its history and taking in its attractions, people, and culture.

Stephen Oddo (CEO and co-founder at Walks) says, “We are proud that our customers want more than just what is on the surface.” They’re not just checking off landmarks on a bucket list. They’re actually taking in the entire city, listening to its stories from locals, and then choosing to go deeper with our tours. We want to encourage respect for the culture and responsible travel by helping visitors make a connection with the city, its people, and its history.

Walks also support sustainable travel in other ways:

  • Walking tours are conducted in small groups. The average tour group size for Walks is around 15!
  • Local tour guides… who provide a connection to the culture and history of the area
  • We offer an alternative to well-known attractions. Many of our tours are outside regular hours (such as the Colosseum at night or After-hours at St. Mark’s Basilica).
  • Promotion of local food and wine sellers Our local food tours and cultural experiences like our famous pasta-making classes encourage people to get off the tourist trail and try new local ingredients and produce offered by local merchants
  • We are using the most recent technologies to make our offices paperless. There are many other creative ways that we are making this happen.
  • Giving back to the community Walks has supported many local charities, restoration efforts, and sustainable travel organizations in many of our destinations. These include the American Institute For Roman Culture (Equavento), Vatican Patrons, St. Fondation Patrimoine for Notre-Dame Fondation Patrimoine for Mark’s Basilica Conservation Fondation Patrimoine for San Francisco The Victorian Alliance of San Francisco

Our Walkers share eco-friendly travel tips

We asked staff in some of the Walks’ stunning European destinations to share their experiences and tips for sustainable tourism.

Riccardo Bella, Product, and Operations Manager, Venice

“Reducing paper waste from Venice”

“Here, in Venice, we stopped printing coupons for attractions that use a barcode scanner. We encouraged our guides to use those vouchers via their smartphones. It was a success! Even the most tech-phobic guides were happy with the changeover.

“Our coordinators no longer print client lists to facilitate “easy” coordination. Instead, they use a special portal Walks created for coordinators on their smartphones. This is one small step, but a huge leap for humanity!

Amend Camacho, Product & Operations Manager, Paris

‘Take walks!’

“Walking is the best tip to Paris. Paris is one the smallest capital cities of Europe. It would easily fit in London 15 times. You can easily reach most of the major attractions on foot. It is worth taking a walk or a walking tour through Paris with an experienced guide. It’s a great way to learn about the city. It is a long-standing tradition that the locals call ‘flaneur’.

My top tips for tourists who want to make a connection with the city in an eco-conscious manner are: Visit the local markets for food. You’ll find many of them throughout the city, and all are full of organic and local options. For restaurants? Look for restaurants whose menus were written on a blackboard and not printed on one. They are more likely to update the menu frequently and include seasonal and regional items. Finally, like many European cities, you should always carry a reusable water container everywhere. Paris has made clean water available to all since Napoleon’s time. Every cafe and restaurant will fill your bottle for you at no cost.

Anastasia Vasileiou Product & Operation Manager, Athens

“Thinking local first”

Breaking the mold, and connecting with nature, culture, and locals is my number one priority when it comes to sustainable travel. Walks is a tour company based in Athens, Greece. We hire local guides and coordinators who are able to provide accurate and concrete information about the area’s history, culture, and traditions.

“Another important aspect of our business is the belief in fair pricing for the exceptional services and products provided by the local merchants, artisans, and craftspeople we work with. Our Athens team loves to travel and stays in authentic, family-run hotels when necessary.

Emanuela Laguardia, HR & Culture Manager, Rome

“Watch out for signs!”

“When in Rome… bring a reusable water bottle!” There are many freshwater fountains. Tourists are often unsure whether the water is safe to drink. If it is, there will always be a sign stating so. Don’t drink the water from the pool, but go directly to the source!

NastjaKonic, Guide Manager, London

“Shop sustainably and embrace the underground!”

“My top tip for London tourists? Avoid driving! London’s traffic jams can cause you to be stuck in traffic for several hours. This is not good for the environment. Instead, take public transport. Tourist-friendly is London’s underground. Many of the major attractions are located just beside the exits. You can find maps that will help you navigate the city. Once you aren’t too caught up in the excitement and take your time, it’s sure to be a lot of fun. You can also hire bicycles from the PS2 every day.

It’s easy to get caught up in the amazing fashion of London, but when you have the option to, shop for sustainable fashion. You will find many eco-friendly boutiques scattered around the city. Look for local (upcoming) boutiques by visiting independent shops. Avoid Oxford Street and shop at independent boutiques.

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