Into Latin America

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Small, Bristol based company offering tailormade holidays to south and central America.
Member since: 23 Oct 2015

How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...

Economic responsibility

Our policies and choices can help to have a positive impact on the places that our clients visit. To ensure that we have a positive effect on the local economies we:

  •  Choose to work with smaller Destination Management Companies (DMCs) where possible who all employ local guides and drivers, and who pay a fair and timely wage.  For trekking operators in particular we stipulate that the porters must be paid a fare wage and given adequate food and shelter. We actively seek out small, niche operators who can offer our clients something unusual such as a cooking class or visit to a more remote village. Much comes from our contacts made from when Steph lived in Latin America, as well as regular visits back to the region.
  • We work to minimise disruption to local communities by always stipulating that clients are accompanied by a guide from that location as well as the general trip guide. Give feedback on individual guides or drivers from our clients so that it can be passed on to the individual in question. This is usually to say what a wonderful job they did, but also can include constructive ideas for how they can improve.
  • Where food is included it is always locally sourced and cooked in the traditional way. This contributes to the local economy by buying farmer’s produce and reduces the distances that the food has to be transported. Another great benefit is that our clients get to try the traditional dishes and in some places can even join in the cooking. We provide recommendations for locally owned and run restaurants and shops (in the Travel Schedule). We always try to work with hotels that are locally owned and who employ local staff. Often the staff might be studying tourism alongside their job so they are benefiting from a training point of view as well as just financially. We favour hotels that choose to source their building materials, food and furnishings locally.
  • Specific examples of how we are putting this policy into practice:
    We are proud to work with Amazonas Explorer in Peru for our Inca Trail and Choquequirao treks. They go above and beyond what is sulated by law to ensure their porters and guides are properly paid and well looked after.
    We work with a small company who take clients off the beaten track in Lima called Pax on Board. Clients can visit a fishing village with a local guide and learn about how important this industry is to the local economy. They eat lunch in a local restaurant. This is always done on a private basis and so usually our clients are the only tourists there.

Environmental responsibility

  • Back in our office in Bristol we also take steps to reduce our environmental impact, specifically;
    • Avoid office printing where possible and when we do print, use recycled paper and ink cartridges
    • Offset our flights to and from Latin America for work trips and avoid short, frequent trips.
    • Feel lucky to be able to drink clean water straight from the tap and never buy bottled
    • Travel to work on foot, bike or public transport
    • Recycle paper, cardboard and plastic
    • Drink fair trade tea and coffee (from Machu Picchu of course!)
  • When creating our trips we aim to minimize the impact that they have on the local environment:
    - We only ever travel in small groups – all of our trips are tailormade and no two are the same.
    - We Arrange visits to local communities where appropriate, (so as not to overload the community in question). In some cases it might be to stay in a hotel that has its own schoole (e.g. Sol y Luna, Peru). So while we don’t want streams of tourists distracting the children, just by staying in the hotel they are contributing to the project.
    - Encourage people to travel overland where possible (a fantastic experience in itself in South America for the views and sense of space you get)
     - Encourage clients to focus their trip on a few places rather than trying to connect many destinations by flights.
  • Some of our suppliers have foundations or projects that benefit from the hotel/cruise boat or lodge that they operate and we prefer to use these where possible. We explain this to our clients and indeed it can be used as a big selling point throughout the trip planning process (see below for examples).
  • Specific examples of how we are putting this policy into practice:
    - In the Peruvian Amazon we work with Inkaterra who have been working for 40 years to protect the environment and local communities through various initiatives including the creation of reserves, education on sustainable fishing and biodiversity monitoring.
    - Our preferred supplier for Galapagos cruises is Ecoaventura. They are pioneers in sustainable travel and go above and beyond what is required by law to protect the unique and delicate ecosystems of the Galapagos. This is very much a selling point when we are discussing cruise options with our clients.
    - For every Galapagos booking we will be donating £10 to the Galapagos Conservation Trust and encourage our clients to do the same. This is the only UK based initiative focused purely on the Galapagos.

Social responsibility

We recognise that tourism can have an enormous impact on communities and shapes the way places develop. Many of our clients comment on the warm welcome they receive and the friendliness of the people. This is such an important part of the Latin America way and every bit as much a part of the experience as seeing the archeological sites and scenery. We ensure that our trips have a positive effect on the people and communities that they come into contact with by the following;

  • Our Traveler’s code explains to clients how they can best help the areas that they visit and we discourage hand outs of sweets, money etc. We encourage people to learn some local words and phrases to enable them to have fun interactions with the people they meet along the way; give guidelines for bargaining specific to the Latin America culture in our Traveler’s code; provide links to the foreign office website regarding the countries they are visiting which includes local cultures and customs and always have a local guide on community visits.
  • Specific examples of how we are putting this policy into practice:
    When creating our tailormade trips we always try to feature hotels or lodges that have a social or environmental project attached to them. For example Hotel Sol y Luna in Peru has its own foundation which helps children in the local area by giving them a chance of an “education, good health, happiness and a brighter future”.
    In Guyana where there is a very small amount of tourism we feel it is appropriate to visit the local school near Surama Lodge as part of the stay there. At Rewa lodge clients can walk to the local village to get a snapshot of every day life. Both lodges are wholly owned and run by the local Amerindian communites and all guides are from those communities. A guide will always accompany clients who wish to do these visits.
    For every Peru booking we will donate £10 to the Living Heart Foundation who have several excellent projects that reach out to the remote Andean regions where children often have poor nutrition and education. They have a café in the town of Ollantaytambo which is a stopping off point for Machu Picchu. We encourage our clients to go there for a coffee or to buy some of the locally produced textiles that this region is famous for.
    We like to build in some free time to our trips so that clients can soak up the local atmosphere, have time to buy locally produced goods or just simply appreciate where they are instead of rushing through the main touristy spots.

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