Laos tour with Hanoi, private departure

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Laos tour with Hanoi, private departure

Environment

At the beginning of 2018 we launched our ‘One Bottle At A Time’ initiative to replace disposable plastic water bottles with refillable canisters across our destinations. From March 2018 in Laos, we will be providing refillable water canisters in our vehicles, meaning our travellers are not generating plastic waste through the daily use of water bottles (which on a full day of touring can be numerable). We also send our guests a wooden toothbrush to help avoid using hotels’ disposable plastic brushes, and educate clients about the limited recycling facilities in Asia, and best-practice regarding waste-reduction. Within our UK offices we operate strict recycling policies and make sure everyone in the office uses reusable crockery and cutlery.

The Selective Earth Programme with the World Land Trust. We believe that for ‘carbon offsetting’ to be effective, it needs to be implemented as part of a broader set of responsible actions, otherwise it distracts from the real impact of flying, on both the developing country and the developed country. In order to truly contribute towards a healthier planet, we believe that putting our efforts into travelling responsibly and donating towards conservation projects is a more responsible action than simply offsetting, which is why we’ve put together the Selective Earth Programme, which offers all our clients the opportunity to not only reduce their carbon footprint when flying, but also contribute towards conservation projects in Asia.

To do this, we have teamed up with World Land Trust (WLT), an international conservation charity who we believe offer a correctly priced and effective solution to reducing the carbon impact of flights, through actively conserving rainforest whilst supporting local communities. We work closely with the Trust to identify which project needs the most funding at what time, to ensure our donations are making a difference. We are currently contributing towards the conservation of the Khe Nuoc Trong forest, in Vietnam, as well as planting fruit trees in the surrounding communities, with £25,000 pledged in total.

Community

Lone Buffalo.
An inspirational community project based in Phonsavan (north-eastern Laos), Lone Buffalo is dedicated to improving opportunities for young people from rural backgrounds through free English tuition, sport and creative skills programmes. LB also operates an acclaimed football coaching programme, and has branched out into film-making, offering students fun, diverse opportunities to develop. We proudly sponsor Class 3C, and have been avidly following their development like proud parents since 2015. The students, who are in their early teens, have progressed from Beginner level through Advanced Beginner to Elementary.

Remote Minority Groups
We are of the staunch opinion that minorities aren’t tourist attractions, any more than children are. All our holidays that take place in and around minority communities are set up with the locals’ best interests at heart and we work with partners who do everything possible to ensure that the entire community benefits from our visits. This Limited Edition Laos tour visits a number of small villages, where we have been conscious of giving back to the community, either in the form of overnighting in a homestay, purchasing produce from the local market or utilising local guides and transportation.

MAG - Mine Advisory Group
Since 1994 MAG has worked across the Xieng Khouang and Khammouane provinces of Laos directly helping more than 900,000 people to live safer lives, free from danger and fear, with a further 2 million benefiting indirectly. Using the funds raised they are working towards the goal of clearing every single piece of land bombed during the Vietnam war, which left Laos the most bombed country in the world per capita.
MAG assesses what difference UXO clearance will make to communities, and targets the land that will most benefit each community, working in partnership with development organisations to ensure that cleared land is used productively. All staff are employed locally, and trained and supervised by their technical experts, so that they can do the job in safety, with the intention of building a safe and skilled local capacity to deal with areas affected by UXO.

Stay local.
One of our core values is to collaborate with local, responsible companies and partners who share our focus, beliefs and passions. We work mainly with local guides, local operators and hotel partners, and will always offer small, local accommodation options to clients. Our holidays are designed to enable our clients to immerse themselves in local places and experiences, and we make sure that, wherever possible, the income they bring to a destination goes back into the community. We have developed a system that allows clients to donate any unused currency to local charities that are vetted and selected by our partners.

Local partners.
We actively choose local guides and drivers, and work only with local travel partners. We insist that any travel partners we work with adhere to our responsible travel policies, and ideally put responsible tourism at the heart of everything they do. We work collaboratively with them to ensure an ongoing exchange of information, so we can all continue to improve our work around responsible tourism.

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