As a global tour operator, we take our role in sustainable tourism very seriously and practice responsible travel wherever we visit. We recognise the impact that tourism has on local communities and the environment, and we plan and operate all our tours with this at the front of our minds. We believe that every tour operator must be responsible in the way they conduct their business, to ensure the welfare of all people and the conservation of the environment.
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. On trips like this through Asia, dress standards are conservative, and we recommend loose, lightweight clothing so as not to offend and to ensure respect of Asian culture, particularly outside of the major cities.
We keep our group size to a minimum wherever possible, with 16 as the maximum number on this trip, but we usually find the average is about ten passengers. This helps to reduce our impact as travellers but also enables us to support local economy by staying in locally owned accommodation, travelling alongside locals and eating in small undiscovered restaurants Ė these unique experiences almost always turn out to be the highlight of the trip for our passengers.
Travelling down the spine of South-East Asia, enjoy spending the night on a sleeper train from Khao Sok National Park to Bangkok. We use the sleeper train because our travellers get to interact with local people who are always friendly and willing to mix with travellers, it gives travellers a real insight into local life and how Thai people travel from one destination to another and it reduces unnecessary pollution as we arenít hiring out private vehicles.
In Penang our hotel is situated right in the heart of historical Georgetown and we visit an exceptional char koay teo stall on Kimberley Street that has been serving up tasty noodles since 1645. We encourage our travellers to support the stall by purchasing their dinner here and buy locally made souvenirs from the many market stalls dotted around the town. We always try to eat at locally run restaurants to support the economy by putting imperative financial funding back into the community.
In Khao Sok National Park, we stay in locally owned rafthouses and we visit the UNESCO listed port town of Melaka where we sleep in a Baba home. Travellers can get a real insight and develop an appreciation of the countryís history here.
As a company, our responsibilities donít 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 also support two charities in Thailand: Friends of the Asian Elephant, which aims to protect and conserve the welfare of elephants both domesticated and in the wild and the Baan Unrak (House of Happiness); an orphanage and community relief centre for children and destitute women, providing them with shelter, food, clothing, education and employment.