Top Peak Travel

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Top Peak travel is a full service, sustainability minded tour operator in Malaysia. We are locally owned and western managed which gives us great insight into travel in this country. We love what we do and it shows in our service, sustainability and great products.
Member since: 31 Oct 2019

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

Economic responsibility

Top Peak Travel is dedicated to being an economically responsible company through a variety of channels.
? Employment: Our company. Over 75% of our employees are locals. This includes all of our guides, drivers,
and others who work directly with our clients.
? Partners and Associated Operators: Top Peak Travel, wherever feasible, utilizes the services of locally
owned and operated companies. This includes local tour operators, 3rd party transportation, and locally
owned accommodation. Exceptions to this only occur when there is not a locally owned company who can
provide the service we are seeking. Those exceptions are rare.
? Charities: Top Peak Travel works with several charities and organizations. As part of our commitment, we
provide monetary support. Our partners include the Kudat Turtle Conservation Society (KTCS), Marine
Research Foundation (MRF), and the forest restoration efforts by Lamag Wildlife Adventure Sdn. Bhd.
Additionally, we assist with spearheading fundraising for these organizations and also work to pair them with
our B2B and group travel clients who seek to provide assistance both on the ground and monetarily.
? Examples:
? Provided donation and did fundraising for the Kudat Turtle Conservation Society to replace a
footbridge that was vital for turtle patrols. The footbridge was destroyed in a storm, leaving the
volunteer rangers without access to a critical turtle nesting site.
? Provided donations of food and supplies to the Mount Kinabalu guides who were left without work
following the earthquake in 2015

4)Do you support local food? For example do you support local growers by having fruit box deliveries etc?

The majority of local food shops in Malaysia source most of their food locally. Nearly all vegetables and fruit are locally sourced. A large part of providing an authentic experience to guests is giving them the opportunity to sample Malaysia's unique cuisine. Local restaurants typically source their food from local suppliers. These local suppliers are getting their raw ingredients from local growers. The food culture in Malaysia still revolves, in large part, around the local markets. Unlike western countries, where the food in the supermarkets can be coming from a host of places near and far, the majority of dishes and cuisine here in Malaysia is based on local products that are readily available.

Environmental responsibility

Top Peak Travel is committed to maintaining and preserving the natural beauty of Malaysia. As a company we
believe that the best way to achieve this is by setting an example as a responsible tour operator, education, and by
doing business, wherever possible, with environmentally responsible groups and Malaysian tour operators.
Setting an example: A commitment to environmental responsibility starts by setting an example. Top Peak Travel
has implemented measures within our office, with our ground staff, and with our policies to ensure we remain an
environmentally responsible company. This includes:
? Not doing business with or selling any products that endanger animals, promote forest destruction, and/or
employ unsustainable methods.
? Moving all office documentation to a paperless system (with the exception of government required print
? Implementing sustainability measures within our office that include a recycling station, filtered water dispenser,
and ban on single use plastic bottles in our office.
? Banning single use plastic bottles with our transportation. Instead, we provide filtered water for guests to refill
their bottles.
Education: Top Peak Travel works diligently to educate both our partners and our guests on sustainable practices
and the environmental challenges that are facing Malaysia.
Doing business with environmentally responsible operators and groups in Malaysia:
Top Peak Travel seeks to do business with and actively promotes like-minded operators who are socially and
environmentally responsible.
Supporting and engaging in environmental preservation and restoration:
We support partner operators who actively engage in environmental preservation, restoration, and advocate for
environmental protection measures. Additionally, we have a policy of providing monetary support to these partners for
their efforts. Finally, we coordinate group tours which also provide monetary support for these partners in addition to
visiting the site with their groups to engage in environmental restoration projects.

1)Are travellers provided with suggestions for how to reduce water use in their destination?

In parts of Malaysia where fresh water availability is an issue, yes, Top Peak Travel or our partner operators at the destination will instruct travellers on reducing water usage. Areas where this is of particular concern are small islands (Gaya island, Sapi Island, and the Perhentian islands, for example) and some oceanside areas where we operate (the Tip of Borneo, Kudat).

2)Are travellers provided with relevant suggestions to minimise damage to the environment and wildlife ecosystems?

Yes, travelers are provided with relevant suggestions to minimise negative impacts to the environment and wildlife. This is accomplished with 2 approaches. The first is upon a traveler's arrival, where our guide or driver will typically discuss the issues in Malaysia concerning pollution from littering, illegal hunting, and the illegal wildlife trade. We encourage our guests to utilize refillable water bottles and to say "no thanks" to plastic bags when they buy something. An additional note here: We are currently in the process of sourcing water bottles and reusable shopping bags that we will provide to all of our multi-day guests free of charge. We expect to have this implemented in the next 6 months.

The second approach is a location/activity specific approach, wherein guests are educated about minimizing their impact at the site of the activity. In addition to suggestions for the guests to minimize their impact, they are also educated on the major threats that exist. Here are a few examples:

1. Jungle treks: The guest will be educated on a 'leave no trace' trekking philosophy. Additionally, the guests will be instructed to stick to marked trails and to pack out whatever they pack in. In addition, the guides will educate the guests on other threats to the ecosystem such as clear cut logging, illegal logging, littering, etc.

2. Wildlife safaris: The guests will be educated on appropriate methods to ensure the wildlife is not disturbed. This includes safe viewing distances, avoidance of flash photography (if it is a night safari), leaving the wildlife with adequate area to vacate, and under no circumstances, touching or handling wildlife of any kind. Additionally, guides educate guests on threats to the animals such as illegal hunting, poaching for the wildlife trade, and habitat destruction.

3. Marine environments: Depending on the type of marine activity, guests will be educated on topics like avoiding damage to corals, avoiding contact with marine life, and identifying and avoiding sensitive nesting sites. Additionally, guests will be educated on threats to marine ecosystems such as, fish bombing, illegal sale and consumption of turtle eggs, pollution (particularly from single use plastics), overfishing, and excessive tourism activities.

Please note, it is our general policy not to send guests to a location or on an activity that we have deemed is at risk from overtourism.

3)As a company do you provide suggestions for destination visits to appropriate local projects with direct or indirect environmental benefits?

When requested by our guests, we have a range of destination visits that either support or directly engage in environmental restoration/protection. Please see the list of the partners we support (below) for details on the activities that our guests can support or directly engage in.

You talk about supporting partners who actively engage in environmental preservation. It would be great if you could expand on this with examples and success stories.

Tanjung Bulat Jungle Camp:
Active reforestation campaign on a degraded forest on the Kinabatangan River to provide habitat for wildlife.
Trees for the reforestation project are locally sourced and the price paid for the trees is significantly above market price (usually around 3X the market rate). This is done to make the growing of these trees profitable for local nurseries.
Tanjung Bulat has developed fish holding areas for local fishermen to keep their fish fresh before going to market. In exchange, local fishermen remove the invasive water hyacinth plant from the oxbow lake (the water hyacinth has choked out almost all other oxbow lakes on the Kinabatangan river.)A portion of the money paid by every guest goes towards these conservation efforts. With prior notification, guests can assist with planting trees as part of the reforestation efforts.
To date, more than 3000 trees have been planted at Tanjung Bulat.
The Marine Research FoundationThe Marine Research Foundation (MRF) is one of the leading sea turtle research organizations in the world. It is based in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
The MRF has been instrumental in numerous turtle conservation efforts worldwide. Particularly notable is their role in helping to implement Turtle Exclusion Devices on fishing vessels. A full list of their projects can be found here:
Top Peak Travel has teamed with the MRF to develop a 2 day tourism product that educates guests about the marine ecology of Borneo and the threats that Borneo's marine ecosystem faces. 40% of the guest's total spend for this product goes directly to funding conservation efforts by the MRF.
Kudat Turtle Conservation Society: Top Peak Travel has had a long working relationship with the Kudat Turtle Conservation Society (KTCS). The KTCS is a grass roots NGO dedicated to protecting turtles and marine conservation areas in the Kudat area of Malaysian Borneo. Through our partnership over the years we have provided funds and manpower for various projects undertaken by the KTCS. A recent example is the funds we helped raise to repair a footbridge that provided beach access for volunteer rangers. These rangers patrol the beach in the evenings for nesting turtles. A storm early this year caused flooding which destroyed the bridge. Top Peak helped to crowd source funds to rebuild the bridge. Additionally, we matched the crowdsourced funds with our own donation. In addition we frequently bring groups to Kudat and engage in beach cleanups, turtle patrols with volunteer rangers, and presentations about turtle conservation in Kudat.

Social responsibility

Social responsibility is a key aspect of responsible tourism. Particularly in rural Asia where there are many people
who live in impoverished areas with very little opportunity or support. Malaysia is no different in this aspect and it is
particularly evident in rural Malaysian Borneo, where we focus most of our efforts.
Top Peak Travel continuously searches for tourism opportunities in the impoverished areas of Borneo. Many of these
places present great potential for tourism; however the benefit is two-fold as development of tourism can bring much
needed funds and jobs. In addition to this, it gives visitors to Malaysia real experiences.
When Top Peak Travel identifies tourism opportunities in these areas, or we are approached by those who are
interested in developing tourism opportunities, we provide a slew of beneficial services to help these projects develop.
This ranges from on the ground training to monetary assistance and manpower to develop facilities (from both our
employees and volunteers from around the world), to assisting with marketing.
Malaysia is a country of diverse and unique cultures. We support and engage with local partners who are part of
these unique cultures and provide tourism products that both preserve and educate guests about their cultures. The
diverse culture of Malaysia is one of the key aspects that makes Malaysia a great place to visit.

1)Are travellers provided with accurate pre-trip information on the social and political situation in each destination?

This is dependent on whether or not there is a sensitive social or political situation in the destination. For Malaysia as a whole, this is typically limited to letting the guests know that the culture here is likely somewhat more conservative than the country they are coming from and that they should remain mindful of that. Otherwise, if there is a sensitive issue, we will communicate that to the guest.

2)Are travellers provided with suggestions of ways to minimise negative impacts on local cultures?

Top Peak's guides always educate guests on the local cultures before interaction takes place. Generally, this involves a simple list of the do's and don'ts and any behavior that would be deemed unacceptable.

3)Do you ensure that a local guide accompanies all group visits to local communities?

Yes, visits to local communities include a local guide. This may either be a knowledgeable guide from that community or one of our local guides designated for that trip.

4)Do you suggest destination visits to appropriate local social projects with direct or indirect benefits to the host community?

Yes, Top Peak and our partners are involved with several social projects.

Tanjung Bulat, as mentioned above, provides two benefits to the local community:
Staying at Tanjung Bulat Jungle Camp provides funds for maintaining the fish holding pens that allow local fishermen to fetch a higher price for their fish at the market in exchange for controlling the water hyacinth on the oxbow lake.
Additionally, Tanjung Bulat provides incentive to local nurseries by purchasing trees for reforestation at well above market price to incentivize growing seedlings for reforestation over oil palm seedlings.
Sarawak Iban Longhouse: Nanga Sumpa - Through one of our partner providers, we offer visits to a traditional Iban longhouse where preservation of the local culture and customs is the focus. In addition to focusing on preserving the culture, the community is fully engaged in the process and the profits remain with the community.

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