As a global tour operator we take our role in tourism incredibly seriously and endeavour to deliver sustainable tourism in all our operations. We believe that operating a tour that benefits local people, the environment and the economy is the only way to run a tour as it gives travellers first-hand experience and real life adventures, whilst supporting local economies. These are not just words on a page; they are ingrained in everything we do, from the local tour leaders on the ground to the office staff back in head office.
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 one, travelling through Asia, we encourage our travellers to make themselves aware of the culture they are visiting and dress appropriately. Dress standards are conservative and we recommend loose, lightweight fitting clothing as not to offend, particularly outside major cities. We provide all travellers with a set of trip notes before they travel which details advice and information about the destinations they are visiting.
On all our tours, we endeavour to give travellers an authentic experience plus support the economy by using local transport and accommodation wherever possible. We often use sleeper trains in our itineraries because it not only gives travellers a real insight into local life, it also reduces added pollution. Travellers get to travel alongside local people and make connections that they wouldn’t be able to whilst travelling via private transport, thus heightening their experience.
We stay in a family run guesthouse in Jinshanling, a less popular area of the Great Wall. This enables travellers to experience rural China as well as major sites like the Great Wall and it supports the local economy by keeping guesthouses up and running in lesser-known parts of China. Travellers are welcomed with great hospitality plus dinner and breakfast are included, a great chance to sample local produce and delicious home style cooking. All entrance fees to the Great Wall are included in the price of the trip and this contributes towards the upkeep of the wall, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, so that generations to come can also enjoy visiting the Wall.
In Xi’an we head to the night markets to try some locally sourced, tantalising specialities such as pao mo and we encourage travellers to buy all their souvenirs from local people rather than large consumer chains. We always employ local tour leaders on all of our trips because not only does it plough imperative financial support into local communities and gives stable jobs to local people, it gives both travellers and locals real insights into other cultures.
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 also support Xi’an Huiling (meaning ‘wise spirit’) – a special Intrepid-supported project for young people with intellectual and learning disabilities and travellers can enjoy a performance of singing and dancing by the students, plus have a chance to see their artwork and handicrafts. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to join in the dancing!