This company has operated on responsible tourism values since its inception. From an environmental perspective, our initiatives extend from our company offices to our tours. Our head office and stores are powered by a local green energy provider, we encourage cleaner transportation methods for staff, and purchase all supplies from a local green business supplier. Our office is as paperless as possible and our brochures use 100% PEFC certified sustainable paper. We offset emissions from all corporate flights and our marine vessel, and encourage our travelers to do so by providing an online platform through Sustainable Travel International.
Tour leaders provide travellers with information about local environmental issues in their respective regions, and provide suggestions of how we can best protect the local environment and culture. To reduce the amount of waste created on tours, tour leaders also encourage travellers to use refillable water bottles instead of disposable plastic, cotton tote bags, reusable batteries, etc. We also include destination-specific information in our guidebooks, which are provided to each traveller including information particular to the local culture and environment and tips on how to be a responsible traveller.
Low Impact Transportation: This trip gives you the chance to try out the public buses, overnight sleeper trains to go from Xi’an to Shanghai to Beijing, the famous rickshaws and a traditional Chinese-style boat travelling along the Yangzi through the Three Gorges. Getting around as the locals do not only allows you to experience the culture on a deeper level, but the same way it is at home, using public transport is the most sustainable way to go – after walking and cycling of course!
Support World Heritage: On this trip there are numerous opportunities to visit important heritage sites on foot or by bicycle such as the famous Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and of course the Great Wall. There are also the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, the limestone karst hills in Yangshou, among others. Celebrating world heritage is an important way to participate in sustainable tourism. Many world heritage sites are designated for protection so that all the world’s people can share in these fascinating and historical wonders for generations to come
Supporting communties is and always has been at the heart of our tours. We provide business opportunities to local people by employing local guides and tour operators. The majority of accommodation used on our tours are small-scale, locally-owned hotels. Our tours mainly use public transportation wherever possible and are small in size to keep our impact on fragile sites and communities as minimal as possible. We monitor the sustainability of our tours through traveller evaluations in order to allow for continuous improvement. We support the local economy and business initiatives by visiting locally-owned shops, restaurants, and markets on our tours.
Many tours incorporate community projects as a way of supplementing community income and supporting community development projects. In 2003 we founded a non-profit organization as a way for our travellers and our company to give back to the people and places we visit. We develop community projects around the world in the areas of health, education, small business development and environmental conservation. Funds are raised through traveller donations and fundraising. The company pays all administration fees which means that 100% of each individual donation goes directly to the community projects. Each year, we continue to support and develop new partnerships with more community projects and community-based tourism initiatives worldwide, in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Supporting local culture and businesses: There are a multitude of opportunities to support local businesses and immerse yourself in Chinese culture on this trip. From the colourful markets to the bustling food stalls and cafes, the choices for eating and handicrafts are endless and the money is staying in the local economy - a vital way for tourism to make a positive impact. Activities that take you to markets, locally-owned restaurants, locals’ homes and villages are vital to the local peoples’ ability to truly benefit from tourism.
Our style of trip, travelling, eating and staying with the locals, puts you right at the heart Chinese culture. China’s multi-ethnicity is evident in the Muslim Quarter. In Xi’an you can visit one of the oldest and best-preserved mosques in China. This is probably one of the few mosques in the world that incorporates a mixed architecture of traditional Muslim and Chinese styles. It may not be apparent that learning about and respecting other cultures is part of being a responsible traveler, but we believe that this discovery is a natural way for people of all backgrounds, nationalities, and religions to interact and learn from each other, fostering peace and understanding. And it’s just plain fascinating!
Other optional unique experiences on this trip that allow you to support the local economy and learn about Chinese culture include - Hutong Tour in Rickshaw (Beijing): Take a rickshaw tour through the hutongs and discover the old world of Beijing, stopping by for lunch at a local family's home. Truly an authentic experience! Tai Chi in the Park: Rise early and join the local for a lesson on Tai Chi in the nearby park.