How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
We aim to develop long-term relationships with our partners within the country so that the economic benefit is ongoing.
Sightseeing tours are operated and led only by local guides and drivers.
We encourage clients to buy, if they intend to, handmade souvenirs, traditional Georgian wine, and other products from the small local artisans and winemakers.
We use locally owned hotels, small family owned guest-houses.
Where possible, dining experiences are based around local produce and local cultural traditions.
We offer tour activities that aim at supporting private attempts in agriculture: farm visits, Georgian tea making, tangerine harvesting, etc.
We aim to provide financial and in-kind support for economic, social or environmental projects that will benefit the local communities.
We aim to support the MyWine project of conservation and development of limited indigenous vines in Georgia. We came to an agreement with them to plant a vine sort worth of 15 US$ in the region of Kakheti, Georgia, from every wine tour sold by our company. Implementation starts this year.
We aim to ensure that type and scale of our traveling groups are appropriate to local conditions and does not overload local infrastructure.
We aim to achieve zero litter policies everywhere.
We provide our travelers with free ‘responsible traveler kit’ that includes re-usable water bottle, and bamboo-made toothbrush.
We aim to work closely with Georgian Eco-tourism Association to help preserve or improve the environment and deliver a long-term benefit for the host community.
We employ eco-friendly vehicles with hybrid engines, or environmental friendly modern exhaust systems.
We no longer offer Dolphinarium visits in Batumi, and encourage our guests not to do so on their own time.
We are working on developing a series of “Georgia by rail” tour programs to reduce domestic plane and vehicle traveling, as much as possible.
We aim to work closely with H2Otel project by UNDP in Georgia in environmental friendly accommodation selection for our tours.
We are running our Tbilisi office in a responsible manner by using fair-trade products, monitoring, and where possible reducing, our energy usage, as well as recycling.
We will be providing regular trainings in the principles and practices of responsible travel, both to our office staff and those employed directly or indirectly throughout the country.
Together with Georgian Ecotourism Association we work on improving our ecotourism standards.
Georgian Ecotourism association’s operations include exploring new in-country destinations for eco friendly tourism. With a special emphasis on potential benefits to communities visited; and environmental issues. Being one of the very few members of this association, we’re constantly in touch with its team on all of our tour packages. During this process we assess potential benefit to local communities we arrange visits to; and getting a valuable advice from the Association.
H2Otel project is aimed at awarding local accommodation providers in Georgia and Azerbaijan for being water friendly. Their assessment team in line with the project named “Kura II” is working towards educating local accommodation providers on wise water usage. We’re currently in the process of establishing cooperation with them in order to select more water-friendly accommodation in Georgia and Azerbaijan. As soon as cooperation is established and terms agreed, we will be publishing this on our website, for travelers to learn more.
We’re currently developing a brief training programs in two major directions: for staff, and for guides/drivers we work with.
First training program is aimed at all new staff members that we will be enrolling in 2020 (i.e. we are in need of three more Travel consultants, one more Reservations manager and two Website content writers). It will be focused on the following topics:
Ways of carbon reduction
More eco friendly use of office equipment, and utilities (for example, all of our printable documents that are used internally or being sent out to customers are written in Century Gothic font, as it saves up to 30% ink when being printed)
Communicating our message to stakeholders
Another training program will be aimed at local guides and drivers we partner with, and it will be focused on the following:
Vehicle maintenance during tour hours, and beyond (in Georgia most of the cars employed are running on gas, helping car owners save on fuel costs; but we employ only hybrid engine vehicles, electric cars for day tours, or those with modern (Euro 3 or 4) exhaust systems);
As both guide and driver becoming travel companions for our clients they are urged to communicate the importance of being responsible traveler and bringing positive impact to places they visit. This include, but not limited to: water usage, littering, single-plastic usage, eating traditions, cultural customs and dress-code of a specific location on a tour, etc.
Responsible behavior: guides and drivers, being a primary representative of our country, should lead by own example.
As mentioned earlier we work closely with Georgian Ecotourism Association on all of our tour products offered. And we constantly consult them on any ideas we have and about to include into the tours. Their professional advice helps us improve our approach to tour programs design, and this becomes a standard for all future developments. One of the recent examples was their suggestion on replacing plastic water bottles we place in all tour vehicles with reusable ones. But most importantly they helped us find a local artisan family in of the villages that make their living by making pottery. As a result, our travelers are being provided with hand-made water bottles, that also serve them as a trip memorabilia. We went a step further and now negotiating with more local pottery producers to increase a number of bottles.
On the first day of the tour program: usually it’s a day of arrival to Georgia, our travel consultant meets travelers in person, and runs a small orientation meeting, where our philosophy and major goal is explained. This is when we make sure to let our clients know how we would like them to approach water usage while in Georgia, among other things like littering, single-plastic use, etc.
During orientation meeting we emphasise on importance of environmental issues. We speak about single-use plastic for instance, and offer our travelers our alternatives in exchange, that we call “responsible traveler kit”. It includes: reusable water bottle and bamboo made tooth-brush.
But such destinations are included in most of our tours. Like for instance, visit to Machakhela protected areas in the West of Georgia. Local administration (of Protected Area) assists us in local guiding, home and farmers visits, which in turn has a direct financial benefit for them to further work on local environmental conservation and protection.
As a small company we don’t currently possess big availability of instruments to eradicate the use of single plastic, but as mentioned earlier we try our best by offering “responsible traveler kit”. And of course all of our guides and drivers lead by their own example. No single-use plastic products are used by them too.
Unfortunately, Tbilisi hasn’t become cycling friendly city yet. But as all of our small team members are united by the idea of responsible travel, we of course try all we can to achieve as much carbon reduction as possible in our daily life and work. Only one of our staff members has a car, and it is a hybrid engine one. Those who can afford use a local car sharing company, that employs ONLY electric vehicles. Others use underground metro, which is relatively close to our office.
As of January 27 (today) we have agreed with a local company called Polyvim.ge to recycle single-use plastic waste from both internal daily routine, and that from our tours. They will be coming to collect it from our office on a monthly basis.
Local food only. This is actually very easy in our country ? Natural fruits and vegetables, organic farm-to-table cuisine are among our USP’s. All food inclusions on our tours are either local farmers produce or within small family run rural cafes. When in Tbilisi, capital city, we partner with local restaurants that in turn are provided by local growers, and food producers.
In addition to that – every client of ours is welcomed by complimentary seasonal fruit plate and local wine in their hotel room upon arrival.
Treepex organization in Georgia runs a number of reforestation initiatives. Number of Georgian forests suffered from wildfires in 2018-2019. Including areas of Borjomi and Adjameti. We have approached them in the beginning of last year and offered our contribution to support reforestation of Adjameti protected areas. Rehabilitation of Georgian oak in particular. We allocate funds on the following scheme:
- every time we reach 100 confirmed travelers limit we allocate 15 GEL (Georgian Lari) per tree for 100 trees to be planted. 1500 GEL in total.
We support Treepex organizations’ “Georgian oak rehabilitation” initiative by putting aside a percentage of our income from the tours.
We prioritize those with higher level of environmental awareness among local service providers.
We aim to support the MyWine project of conservation and development of limited indigenous vines in Georgia.
We aim to support “Travel with Impact” initiative in Georgia by Sustainable rural development international LTD.
We have already made a number of joint tours. Sustainable Rural development company has a number of projects in Georgia. One of them is in the village of Nukriani in Georgia. They support local artisans making woven products. This project visit is included into our two major tour products we offer. Last year showed an increased interest in this area, and feedbacks we received proved for it to be a great decision.
Apart from our guides speaking about local customs, dress-code requirements in certain places, as well as behavior traditions we do not communicate this separately.
Apart from our dedicated tour guides, each local community visit is accompanied by a local-local for our travelers to get better insights. Usually we partner with small family run guesthouses and/or farms in each community visited, and a representative of the location accompanying tourists providing more detailed information and showing them around.
As mentioned earlier one of this type of locations is a village of Nukrinani. Apart from that we have two more specific destinations that we try promote separately – farm village called Atskuri in the South-West of the country; and a community of Tsitelmta, tea-growing region of Georgia.