Essential Cuba tour
Description of Essential Cuba tour
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Our partners behind this holiday promote inclusivity on all their trips and across their business and we are all committed to ensuring travellers face no discrimination on any part of the trip they control.
As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.
PlanetAll our staff are trained in Responsible Tourism and make this an important part of their tour. We ensure all the activities offered to the travellers take into consideration the impact on the local environment and wildlife.
We economize our use of resources as much as possible, and we also try to reduce the amount of waste we produce and encourage our guests to do so as well. One example of a measure we have taken is to include drinking water for our travelers and include this in the tour package. The tour leader (guide) is given a budget to buy large 5 litre bottles of drinking water and store these on the tour bus. The guests are encouraged to use this water to refill their own drinking bottles. This avoids the guests buying smaller plastic water bottles everyday. If they haven't brought their own bottle to refill, they can buy 1 small bottle at the start of the tour for their personal use, which they can refill with the drinking water we provide. Filtered or purified water is very uncommon in Cuba, and the vast majority of tourists buy plastic bottles of drinking water. Our method reduces the amount of plastic waste from this practice as much as possible.
Additionally, our tour leaders participate in the No Straws campaign by encouraging our travellers to use reusable straws or to decline straws altogether. All of our tour leaders have been given metal straws which not only reduces their own plastic consumption but sets an example for others in their community. They have enthusiastically supported this campaign, so much so that one tour leader found a rural vendor selling sustainably produced bamboo straws which we now purchase to use on our tours, supporting both the environment and the local economy.
Some of our tour leaders started an initiative to pick up trash en route between the provinces, not only does this maintain the health and beauty of the environment, but also sets an example for the community which has noticed the efforts of the group.
We look for ways to be efficient with our energy use and implement these methods on all of our tours. For example, we try to reduce as much as possible the use of air-conditioning. With the high levels of heat in Cuba for most of the year, and the fact that the travelers are usually unaccustomed to this, the use of air-conditioning is in many cases unavoidable. Our tour leaders are trained to include in their briefing to the guests, to stress the importance of turning off air-conditioning when they are not needing it and to close all doors and windows so that the cool air does not escape from the room. They are encouraged to see if they can sleep comfortably with just a fan, instead of having their air-conditioning turned on all night.
The treatment and care of animals is a particular concern of ours, to that end we donate a portion of tour proceeds to Cubans in Defense of Animals (CeDA) a non-governmental non-profit organization in Havana that provides care and sterilization to street animals, advocates for animal rights, and facilitates adoptions of stray dogs and cats. We encourage our travellers to bring donations of money or much needed supplies to CeDA, our guides will help arrange a drop off. We run in the Havana Marathon in November to raise funds for CeDA, and you are welcome to participate!
We promote best practices in responsible tourism and actively encourage our local suppliers to join us in our green campaigns.
PeopleThis trip is filled with opportunities to get to know the culture and vibrant society of the intriguing island nation of Cuba. Nearly all of the accommodation is in the homes of Cuban families, where you will get to see how Cubans live, observe their way of life, and participate in their culture.
We directly run all the on-ground services and do not go through a second agent as the majority of tour providers to Cuba do. We have our own dedicated staff of locals in Havana and regional centres. A network of tour leaders, local guides and local transport providers, plus local office staff. We use local coordinators in regional centres to get the best possible access to services possible and to bring in local expertise.
Our tour leaders are paid fair and healthy wages, and thusly are prohibited from taking commissions or other unethical business practices. We offer bonuses and other incentives to encourage honesty and transparency from our tour leaders which results in better service to our customers and has a positive influence on the local culture where they are seen as role models. The tour leaders receive annual training in several different subject areas, including responsible travel, safety, diversity, and ethics, and we encourage them to develop and grow through additional training, special projects, and leadership opportunities.
We encourage and support their charitable endeavors. We have a team of kind-hearted generous tour leaders who have initiated company-supported donation drives and fundraising for disaster relief, medical expenses, and animal welfare.
We also encourage our groups to eat in small Paladars run by the locals or to eat in homestays with local families.
We ensure that we 'spread the wealth' throughout each town so the benefit is to the community as a whole and not a few individuals. In this we attempt to get as many local providers involved in our tours as possible, providing a BBQ by the river, or similar activities where the group is mixing with the real locals and not just those in the tourism industry.
We encourage respectful travel in Cuba. Our Cuban tour leaders will give you an insight into the complex Cuban history and society. The tour leader will demonstrate how this unique country has managed to resist many of the negative impacts of North American culture, influence, and capitalism, and how it has achieved significant social goals, and at the same time, show you the short-comings of the present system.
The maximum group size of this tour is limited to 12 travellers which enables us to more easily interact with the Cubans and to visit their homes and places of work and play. It also minimises our impact on the local culture and society. You will get the chance to visit government run local community projects such as the ‘organoponicos’ (urban based community organic produce gardens), and ration stores.
All travellers are encouraged to explore with the group and on their own, learn a few words of the ‘Cubanised’ Spanish, and to interact with the locals as much as possible. The local guides are employed to help explain as much as possible about the cultural differences and the historically significant places that we visit and to make your experience in Cuba as enjoyable and as much fun as possible.
Our commitment to responsible tourism is not limited to our overseas operation and we have measures to ensure our Australian and US offices operate according to our responsible tourism policy.