Travel: green channel

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The Independent Online
The Himalayan Tourist Code has been devised by the charity Tourism Concern. Although it is specifically intended for visitors to the world's highest mountain range, some aspects of it can, of course, be applied to visits to the Lake District and other mountainous parts of the world:

"Limit deforestation. Make no open fires and discourage others from doing so on your behalf. Where water is heated by scarce firewood, use as little as possible. Whenever it is possible, choose accommodation that uses kerosene or fuel-efficient wood stoves.

"Remove litter. Bury paper and carry away with you all non-degradable litter. Graffiti are permanent examples of environmental pollution.

"Keep local water clean. Avoid using pollutants such as detergents in streams or springs. If no toilet facilities are available, make sure you are at least 30 metres away from water sources and bury or cover wastes.

"Plants - should be left to flourish in their natural environment. Taking cuttings, seeds and roots is illegal in many parts of the Himalayas.

"Photographs - when taking photographs respect the privacy of others. Ask permission and use restraint.

"Respect holy places. Preserve what you have come to see. Never touch or remove religious objects. Shoes should be removed when visiting temples.

"Gifts. Giving to children encourages begging. A donation to a project, health centre or school is a more constructive way to help.

"Follow local customs. You will be accepted and welcomed if you follow local customs. Use only your right hand for eating and greeting. Do not share cutlery or cups etc. It is polite to use both hands when giving or receiving gifts.

"Respect for local etiquette earns you respect. Loose, lightweight clothes are preferable to revealing shorts, skimpy tops and tight-fitting action wear. Hand-holding and kissing in public are disliked by local people.

"Observe standard food and bed charges, but do not condone overcharging. Remember when you are shopping that the bargains you buy may only be possible because of low income to others.

"As a guest, respect local traditions, protect local cultures, maintain local pride. The Himalayas may change you; please do not change them."

Tourism Concern (0171-753 3330)