As a global tour operator, we take our role in tourism extremely seriously. We recognise the impact tourism has on local communities and environments and we plan and travel with this at the forefront of our minds at all times.
We incorporate the principles of sustainable development in the way we provide our travellers with real life experiences. These values are more than just words on a page; they are ingrained in our culture and the daily operations of every office and every trip. We expect our staff and travellers to travel with the principles of responsible travel in mind and endeavour to demonstrate these values at all times - respecting people, cultures and local environments; in the distribution of wealth; in good will and cross-cultural sharing; and in contributing to sustainable development.
This trip gives our travellers a chance to integrate into the local culture and get involved with the daily practices of Sri Lanka. We visit a locally family run coconut plantation and learn how the coconut is used from ‘nose to tail’. A main ingredient in almost all Sri Lankan dishes, we learn that the whole tree, the roots and leaves, as well as the husk are put to good use. Our visit encourages travellers to minimise their waste distribution by learning how to utilise every aspect of the locally sourced foods.
We encourage deep and meaningful connections with the local people and on this trip we meet with the famed stilt fisherman of Unawatuna and learn how their livelihoods were affected by the 2008 tsunami. The experiences our travellers have here give them a real insight into Sri Lankan culture and provide them with a snap shot of daily life after this disaster. We also spend time with a local family, joining them in preparation for the evening meal which we are invited to.
We use local restaurants and businesses wherever possible to support the local economy and this puts imperative financial resources back into the community. On this particular trip, we peruse the local seafood market for the ‘catch of the day’ and have it cooked up at a local seaside restaurant. Our travellers take a master class to learn the local way of cooking seafood and spend time and eat lunch with a local Tamil family, taking in the distinct flavours that the Tamil cuisine offers.
Our commitment to sustainable tourism doesn’t stop when our tour does. As we use local transport wherever possible on our tours, we are also proud to be a carbon neutral company. We offset all our global carbon emissions and offer a carbon offset option to passengers booking their flights through us. On this particular trip, we offset 343kg per person per trip. Through these schemes, significant financial contributions are being made on behalf of our business, suppliers, staff and travellers to internationally certified carbon abatement projects, equating to over AU$1 million since 2007. Since then, 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!
We run and support a variety of projects, from healthcare, education, human rights, child welfare, sustainable development and environmental and wildlife protection. Our own in house foundation has been in operation for over 11 years; a not-for-profit fund that has distributed over AU$3 million to more than 70 non-government organisations since 2002. Donations come from our travellers and are then matched by us dollar for dollar.