Responsible tourism: Cambodia & Vietnam community cycling holiday
As we supply water for the riders from the support van during transit days, we provide the riders with their own water bottle and purchase water in the form of a 50L drum in an effort to reduce the vast amount of plastic from the many 330ml bottles.
WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) We partner with NGOs who are actively involved in the WASH program, manufacturing and distributing various water filters and tanks to people in need. From these NGOs, we engage with, learn from and at times, sponsor WASH program based projects.
Local Impact: Being a cycle based operation, we are conscious of our carbon footprint and aspire to have a low impact on the environment. Our internal environmental policy ensures we only ever leave footprints (and cycle tracks) and only ever take photos.
Agricultural Wildlife: We support, engage with and introduce you to NGO partners that are actively involved in many agricultural pass-on programs to enable positive animal welfare with people empowerment and resources. We also avoid all tourist orientated animal experiences where wildlife is taken out of it's natural surrounding for tourist interactions ie- Angkor elephant rides etc. Previous projects the groups on our tours have undertaken is the purchase of cows and buffalo's for families to assist with local farming. These assets have a pay it forward program where offspring of the animal is then donated to similar socio-economic status families within the village, in consultation with the village chief and local NGOs.
Fast Fashion: The garment industry is one of the largest in Cambodia and provides employment to thousands of people. However, with international brands taking advantage of cheap labour, the end result is inexpensive fashion items for the international consumer. The questions we explore are the controversy around the wages and how it has evolved, the conditions of the factories and the roles and responsibilities of the international brands involved. We are actively engaged in activities that encourage the riders to be aware of the ‘fast fashion’ industry.
We have recently become an official supporter of Child Safe, where we have pledged to support the practices to keep children safe. From this, we take all our riders to Friends International (or an official partner of) for the riders to witness a presentation as to what responsible tourism is all about. We engage in a healthy debate as to the current ‘orphanage crisis’ in Cambodia and other developing countries and the influence of tourists that have created this market. This incredibly powerful eye opening is a great introduction for the riders experience.
As part of our child protection policy, we do NOT interact or engage with any children at schools or nurseries. We do NOT offer or promote any short term unskilled volunteer opportunities, nor do we allow any photography of, or interaction with, children during any NGO visits. We actively promote and support the ‘Children are not tourists attractions’ campaign from Child Safe.
Donations to charities: For every tour, all riders are requested to contribute a nominal sum for the purpose of donation. Usually A$200 per rider. During the course of the tours, the riders are given the chance to engage with, and learn from, local NGOs. We visit no less than four NGOs during every tour and spend some time learning about their projects, strategies and challenges. At the end of the tour, the riders are then empowered with new found knowledge and have the opportunity to combine the allotted donation money and make an impact towards a project of their choosing. Of the four tours completed so far, we have already donated over A$5000 to various NGOs within Cambodia.
Some of these projects include going towards the salaries of local teachers, we have funded the construction of breakfast gardens (to feed the children from the local NGO supported pre-school), invested in vocational training for imprisoned youths in order to enhance the chance of rehabilitation, funded gender based violence awareness campaigns in rural areas and funded youth centers in order to reduce dependency on institutions for children.
Contributions to charities as partners: In addition to promoting and marketing our partnered NGOs, we also pay each NGO for their time and resources of the tours interactions. This time usually lasts no longer than 1-2 hours and all NGOs are renumerated regardless as to whether or not there is a follow up donation from the group.
Local institutions and employment We hire locally for transport assistance and support van. We also support local businesses as opposed to international franchises in all restaurant and hotel choices. In addition, we actively seek out social enterprise based restaurants to include in tour packages. These restaurants are often connected to local NGOs and use the restaurants as training facilities for empowering disadvantaged youth.
Places we visit: In this particular tour, we visit three NGO supported social enterprise based training restaurants. These places not only offer exceptional food, but also work with the local community in providing vocational skills to disadvantaged youth. These thorough training programs form a fantastic grounding for a career in the hospitality industry upon completion of the program.