Silk Road Adventures
How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
We always employ local guides to accompany groups visiting local communities. Wherever possible, we will work with people from a local community to ensure that maximum economic benefit is retained in that community, and that our guests derive the maximum understanding of each community visited.
We will contribute to the training of local guides and suppliers in good practice, with particular reference to our Responsible Tourism policy.
All of our trips and tours are immersive – they are designed to be of net benefit to each community that we visit. In this way we not only always employ local guides, drivers and suppliers but often work with local providers to ensure that services provided are utilising local resources as far as is possible.
We use local guides to ensure specialist skills and knowledge are retained in the local community and to be certain that tourism income is kept as circular as possible within the local economy. We stay as often as possible with local people to encourage cultural exchange, to give our guests the best possible cultural experience and to ensure that economic benefits are retained locally. When staying with local people, we try to ensure that local foods are cooked using local produce that is in season. Whilst this is difficult in some locations we visit due to geographical location and resource scarcity, this is the way that our immersive travel methodology is defined – stay local, eat local, experience local.
We will inform our guests about how and why purchasing locally produced goods and services - souvenirs, crafts, meals and guides (all of which can enhance our guest's experience) from locally owned establishments has beneficial effect – is significant to local communities.
We have a tiny office in the UK where we separate and recycle all waste, are largely paper-free and use 100 per cent recycled paper for the printing we are obliged to do.
We choose not to print annual brochures and where printed literature is required by a guest for one reason or another, this is done on a print-on-demand basis only.
Our office procures energy from 100 per cent renewable sources.
We encourage cycle commuting for staff and visitors alike.
We share our office to make better use of the space and to ensure it never sits empty when we are travelling.
Our in-country packs, delivered within a month of departure, we provide suggestions on how guests can reduce their impact on and damage to the environment, wildlife and marine ecosystems.
All trips include the opportunity to visit local environmental projects, and some trips are based from local wildlife or conservation projects. The environmental benefits of such visits/stays are provided in the in-country pack.
Wherever possible we will choose operators, guesthouses and suppliers who use renewable energy.
We will never encourage the use of firewood or other wild collection of unsustainable timber/brush for fires where this can have a negative impact on the local ecosystem.
We will not litter, nor permit our guests to litter and will encourage resource reduction, re-use and recycling at every possible stage.
We will discourage and report any instances of animal cruelty we encounter along our routes and will, wherever possible, avoid the use of animals in any instance that is considered exploitative.
We encourage frugal use of fresh water and discourage the spoiling of water sources by any means. We provide water filtration bottles to all customers as part of their package and encourage them to be used as alternatives to bottled water.
Our use of filtration water bottles permits the reduction of our single-use plastic footprint. Where filtered water is necessary, we will purchase only in bulk containers and request that wherever it is available, our local partners supply filtered water in the same way.
We will suggest measures that can reduce water consumption in the destination(s) and why it is important.
All guests are provided with accurate pre-trip information on the social and political situation in each destination. This is part of our in-country information pack, delivered within 1 month of departure date.
The in-country information pack also includes details on cultural sensitivity, local practices and folklore where appropriate and the basics of the local languages that can be expected along their route.
We exert direct control over our itineraries, all of which use the services of local guides, drivers and interpreters. This ensures not only that our guests are being culturally and socially sympathetic, but that both the host community and our guests have the greatest chance to learn from one another.
All trips include suggestions as to which local social projects may be visited on the route. It may be that we are staying within such a social project, or perhaps it might be available in a destination as an additional activity.
We will undertake the following:
Brief you on the cultural norms for each place we will pass through. It takes very little to ensure that we aren’t offending people by being insensitive to their culture, and knowing the basics will help you get the most out of your experience.
Provide accurate pre-trip information concerning the destination countries specific to a particular trip including the social and political situation.
We travel in many places that few tourists reach and where foreigners are still a welcome novelty, and the money we spend there goes to families and rural communities who really need it. We also run expeditions in some places where the positive stories we bring back help, in a small way, change people’s opinions for the better.
We ascribe to the UNWTO (United Nations Word Tourism Organisation) Guidelines for Sustainable Development of Tourism. These are:
1. Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.
2. Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
3. Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.
We also support the principles of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has published a specific action plan on the development of tourism along the Silk Road and we take an active interest in this document and how it is being applied. The whole document can be downloaded by clicking on the PDF icon, or see below for the basic visions for the initiative.