Culture and food in holiday Guatemala

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01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Culture and food in holiday Guatemala

Environment

We focus on selecting local suppliers who are committed to preserve the environment. The transport companies we hire use modern vehicles with lower CO2 emissions than the average Guatemalan public transport.

We primarily use electronic format for trip documentation. Our paper use is restricted to our welcome pack and client itinerary which we feel is easier to refer to in paper format rather than on a phone.

Travellers are briefed on local environmental considerations including appropriate waste disposal. They are asked to be considerate not only with the local customs but with the environment they visit. For example, when the touristic package selected contains a volcano hike trip, we let them know about the importance of not retrieving volcanic rocks to take home as souvenirs as we have heard this is a common temptation for some western tourist.

Another example would be when they spend time in Lake Atitlán. The landscape here is breathtaking and we commit ourselves to helping to keep the lake clean by being proactive and discouraging any disposal of rubbish into the water. We work with one of the most responsible providers in Lake Atitlan area who is environmentally friendly with their kayaking tours and who is also helping the local community by paying their local guides above the average wage. This company is also supporting a local NGO which provides education, mentoring and financing to help train young adults in apprenticeship programmes. This increases the awareness of the local population about protecting their own environment.

As stated in our Social Responsibility section below, clients are given the opportunity to volunteer for a day with a local NGO school. We create awareness among the school children, teachers and supporting staff (school cook and handyman) to protect their environment by not wasting their running water, disposing of rubbish in the appropriate bins and to re-use materials when possible.

Community

Our business model supports suppliers at a local level so the majority of your money goes directly towards helping local Guatemalan businesses, Guatemalan NGOs, Guatemalan people and their family. We believe this is the best way to benefit the local economy.

We work with the marginalised, indigenous community in of San Antonio Aguascalientes in Guatemala. We offer packages for you to stay with local indigenous families. These packages include activities such as weaving workshop, Spanish lessons, Guatemalan cooking class and a Mayan show all provided by Mayan women. This supports these women, their families and the local community and you get to experience and learn about Mayan culture first hand. Information is provided to you in our welcome pack about the Mayan culture. We know all these Mayan women personally and we ensure that there is no exploitation or child labour of any persons employed by us from this community.

Social Responsibility:

We are committed to responsible travel and helping local communities where we operate. In Guatemala, we assist by providing funding, mentoring and strategic advice to a local NGO school called Semilla de Esperanza y Amor, which is located approx 10km outside of Antigua city in Guatemala. It is a primary school, set up 10 years ago, which caters for 90 children from highly disadvantaged backgrounds. Lys, the school principal, provides two free meals a day (hot breakfast and hot lunch), free uniforms, free transport to and from school and free school supplies for the year. As government schools in Guatemala do not provide this, education is out of reach for families that can’t afford it.

• Mentoring - We provide mentoring to senior management in the school in areas of financial and strategic planning and in ways to attract new, sustainable national and international donors. We monitor and ensure that all funds raised are used efficiently and effectively.

• Funding - $10 per person from each trip sold will go towards social projects in the area for example education and a cooperative of coffee farmers. We also pay an additional $10 to Semilla de Esperanza y Amor school for every person that visits the school with us.

• School visit - The majority of our packages include the option to visit the school on an educational day. This school visit is educational for both the children and the volunteers. Children learn about the country where the volunteers come from and foreign volunteers learn about education system in Guatemala. During all school visits, we ensure that no one is being exploited and all involved benefit positively. Tourists are at all times accompanied by one of our local representatives who are local people that act as translators. If translators are not needed, they still attend with a local representative. The respective teacher is always present and the principal of the school is there too.
- We do not take visitors to the school on a daily or weekly basis. Currently, we arrange a visit for every four weeks and we will make sure to group tourists together as much as possible to avoid disruptions (also visitors go to different classrooms each time to avoid disruption of the same pupils)

• Gofundme - In September 2017, two of the schools main donors pulled out which put the school at risk of closing down in 2018. Our Head of Social Projects organised a Gofundme campaign to keep the school open and raised $8,745 for the school. This money and other cost saving initiatives has enabled the school

to reopen their doors for the new school year in Jan 2018.

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