As a global tour operator, the values of responsible travel are ingrained in everything we do, from our office based staff to our local tour leaders. We recognise the impact that tourism has on local communities and the environment and plan and operate every tour with this in the front of our minds.
We believe that responsible travel is about the attitude you take with you and the choices you make when travelling - to respect and benefit local people, their cultures, economy and the environment.
When travelling through a country like China, it is vitally important that our travellers respect local cultures and sensibilities, and we endeavour to educate our travellers prior to the tour with some advice on different cultures.
Not only do we visit numerous Pagodas and temples, but we also head into rural China to the small village of Shanhaiguan – Dongjiakou where we stay overnight with a local family, thus a conservative place to be respected by visitors.
The maximum group size on this trip is 16, but we often find that the average is about 10 passengers. We never exceed 16 to ensure we minimise our impact on the communities and environments we travel through. When staying at a homestay in Shanhaiguan – Dongjiakou, we often split our travellers into smaller groups which supports more local families and their income and gives our travellers a real insight into local life. We talk to local families to find out what the Great Wall of China means to them and learn about the history in the surrounding areas.
Throughout this trip, we use small locally run guesthouses that gives travellers an authentic experience but also provides imperative financial support to local communities. Supporting small businesses enable locals to stay in their home towns and live amongst family rather than having to travel to big cities in search of work. We use local transport wherever possible on our tours because it not only shows travellers the local way of life and gives them a feeling of contributing to a place, but it minimises pollution as we don’t have to hire multiple private mini buses.
As a company, our responsibilities don’t stop when our tours end. Our own in house foundation has been in operation for over 10 years; a not-for-profit fund that has distributed over AU$3 million to more than 70 non-government organisations since 2002, from health care, education, human rights, child welfare, sustainable development and in environmental and wildlife protection. Donations come from our travellers and are then matched by us dollar for dollar.
We are proud to be carbon neutral. We offset all our global carbon emissions and offer a carbon offset option to passengers booking their flights through us. On this particular tour, we offset 2126kg per passenger. Since 2007, we have offset over 45,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. That's equal to approximately the amount of carbon that 2,796,047 trees would absorb over 10 years, or taking over 4,753 passenger cars off the road for an entire year!