Responsible Travel doesn't mean having to compromise on the enjoyment of your trip or the quality of your accommodation. We feel strongly that we should directly benefit the communities we visit whenever possible through sustainable travel, environmental protection and social projects, without sacrificing comfort or character.
We are firmly committed to the principles of ethical travel. Our comprehensive Responsible Practices policy summarises our commitments and actions. Although the very basis of our ground operations lends itself to the ethos of responsible tourism, this policy re-iterates our commitment to:
• Use locally owned hotels • Use locally owned ground agents • Use local guides and drivers • Promote community tourism projects from homestays to craft shops • Support charities that work within the destinations that we travel to • Support carbon reduction projects through Friends of Conservation.
Whilst we recognise that a vital element of any holiday is relaxation, we do try to encourage our clients to be aware of the impact they have on their destinations. For each booking, we provide notes on cultural sensitivities and our local guides brief our clients upon their arrival. We hope this will help to ensure the sustainability of our destinations and improve the quality of our clients' overall experience.
Ethical considerations are also part of our research and development process and we encourage feedback on our practices. Clients are asked to comment and make suggestions on our responsible practices when completing their post-trip questionnaire. In addition to this, as well as visiting destination-based initiatives whilst on their educational trips, our country specialists are encouraged to help continually improve our responsible travel initiatives.
We are committed to supporting a wide number of responsible and ethical initiatives, including environmental projects, community tourism projects and education programmes. We encourage our clients to visit many of these initiatives such as wildlife sanctuaries, local schools, orphanages and co-operatives.
Through client-specific notes in our tailor-made itineraries, we continue to actively recommend restaurants, shops and other local businesses so that the community is directly benefited. Most of these have been discovered by our country specialists and include craft shops that ensure tourist money is fed back to the individuals who produce the crafts, and restaurants which train local street children. We promote environmentally friendly tours and accommodation in a number of destinations. We prefer, where possible, to use smaller, locally owned ground agents. Not only does this ensure that it is the host community who are managing and benefiting from the local tourist industry, but we also believe that our clients will have a better trip as local agents have a much more intimate knowledge of the region.
For the same reasons as above, we always use local guides and drivers. This not only provides crucial employment and income for the local community, but also increases the authenticity of the client’s trip. We favour ground agents who have an awareness of responsible tourism policies and strong environmental commitment. Responsible practice is one of the principle criteria during the selection of new suppliers, and ethical initiatives form a fundamental element in our ground arrangements.
In addition to feedback from country specialist visits, all our ground agents are asked to keep us updated on their own responsible tourism practices as well as potential community tourism projects, local charities and eco-accommodation that we can recommend to our clients. Clients are asked to report on the behaviour and awareness of our agents and local guides once they have returned home from their trip.
We always try to favour small locally owned hotels over large international chains. We work closely with our local ground agents to source more small guesthouses, B&Bs, boutique hotels and eco-friendly lodges. This ensures that as much revenue as possible remains in the host country as well as providing an experience with more genuine character for our clients. We always prefer to use hotels which have environmental policies in place regarding reuse of towels and sheets, electricity and water usage. Where available we recommend our clients stay in ethically responsible accommodation, such as eco-lodges that aim to preserve the beauty of natural surroundings.
Ethical practice is not just limited to the destinations we operate in. Responsible practice is exercised in our office with various measures put in place aimed at reducing, re-using and recycling resources where possible. We carry out dedicated responsible travel training sessions with all employees upon joining the company. We minimise our electricity consumption by switching off lights, computers, fans etc in rooms that are not in use and at night. We also monitor thermostats and keep doors and windows closed when heating is on. We recycle all office paper, encourage double-side photocopying and, where appropriate, circulate documents by email. We also exercise effective control of brochure production, distribution and disposal.
We encourage car sharing amongst employees and are part of a cycle scheme. We offset the carbon emissions resulting from staff educational trips through the Friends of Conservation carbon-offsetting programme. We also offer the facility for clients to do the same for their own travels.