How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
Tourism is a very important industry for the Nepalese economy and we at Intertours are proud to be a part of it. We are committed to our employees and take it upon ourselves to provide stability and training to everyone so we can grow together as an organisation.
The Begnas Lake Resort, despite being quite small employs 76 people, most of whom are from villages surrounding the resort. We have always our responsibilities to the staff and community seriously with a large number of staff being retained even when we were temporarily closed.
As we are very close to the local communities around Begnas Lake, we support the primary school at Sundari Danda (the village we are attached to) and the closest secondary school which is 30 minutes walk away. We have ongoing projects at both of these including helping rebuild classrooms after the earthquake in 2015. We also help organise medical health-camps for the local community in collaboration with large hospitals in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
we use local guides for our trips. For example, when guests who are staying with us at the Begnas Lake Resort want to go on day-walks we normally use local youth as guides. It works quite well as they get a chance to make some money while sharing their local knowledge. They are often alumni of the schools we support and looking to start their careers in the tourism industry. Similarly, when clients want to go out onto the lake on a boat-ride, we pass the business on to the locals who know the lake really well. When it comes to city sight-seeing, visiting the jungle or trekking we again use local guides.
Taking into account that Nepal is known for itís natural beauty, we are aware of the need to make sure that we take good care of the environment. To do our bit for the environment, we have a few different measures in place.
At our offices in Kathmandu, we do the following:
1) Limit the use of paper by only printing when necessary.
2) Waste paper, glass and metals are re-cycled.
3) We have solar panels installed along with an inverter which provides the majority of the electricity we use.
4) We harvest rain-water.
At the Begnas Lake Resort:
1) Paper, glass and metals are re-cycled.
2) Kitchen and garden waste is composted.
3) We try and minimize the use of chemical detergents and cleaning chemicals. Unfortunately we are yet to find products that are 100% eco-friendly. All waste water is let into soak-pits to prevent run-off into the lake
4) Our swimming pool is spring-fed and chemical-free as it overflows into the lake.
5) We employ organic farming practices on our grounds where we grow a lot of the fruit and vegetables that we serve our guests. We source the balance of our produce from the surrounding villages where we ask the farmers to use organic methods as well. We also source our coffee from a neighboring farmer who has an organic coffee plantation.
6) We make sure to disturb the local flora and fauna as little as possible due to which our guests get to enjoy the presence of wildfowl early in the morning, monkeys and birds during the day; and if they are very lucky they might hear a leopard calling out at night.
we do advise clients on best practices to reduce water-wastage. For example, at the Begnas Lake Resort and at Summerhill House (our guest-house in Kathmandu) we have very clear notices asking clients to place towels in the laundry-basket or on the floor if they want them washed and to hang them to dry if they are okay to use them again. Besides saving water, it also reduces the amount of detergent being used and thereby being released. This is of course pertinent to clients staying for a longer period.
2) Yes, we do help clients reduce their environmental footprint. A good example is our commitment to reducing the amount of plastic water bottles. We provide safe drinking water to our clients (boiled and filtered spring water). Of course we also have bottled mineral water on offer for clients who prefer it. Any plastic bottles are taken to a recycling plant in Pokhara.
At the Begnas Lake Resort, we like to think of ourselves as a part of the local community. As one of the few sizeable businesses in the vicinity, we continuously work with local village councils, the womenís committee and schools in order to improve facilities and opportunities for everyone.
1) We work closely with our local schools to ensure that all children have the opportunity to get a good education without having to leave the village and family and go to a boarding school in the city.
2) In Nepal, tradition and cultural practices are overseen by the Womensí Committee (Ama Samuha literally translates to Mothersí Committee). They organise cultural shows with singing and dancing for our clients when the need arises. They also help out when we organise weddings or other events at the resort.
3) When called for, we are proud to be able to muster a traditional Nepali band with musicians coming from the villages surrounding the lake. With drums, Sarangi and wind instruments of different kinds, it is definitely a spectacle.
4) Over the past decade we have been promoting Ayurveda, Yoga and Meditation to travelers from around the world. This has also resulted in our own staff gaining interest in the subject and actually adding their knowledge and experience to improving our offerings. While we started off our Ayurveda team with a Doctor from Southern India, we now have a second Nepali Doctor who is trained in a Nepali style of Ayurveda. This has definitely helped us improve the quality and exclusivity of what we have on offer.
Clients are advised of any political or social situations before the start of their trip. On arrival, they are also briefed by their guide on all matters of importance.
This is normally covered by our guides during their initial briefing. As our clients are generally individuals or small groups who are spending more time in-country, the negative impact on local culture is greatly reduced with our emphasis being more on a positive cultural exchange.