How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
Making a positive difference to the amazing destinations we travel is at the core of what we do.
Small Change is our own socially conscious initiative aimed at making the world that little bit better place to explore. The four pillars of the Small Change ethos are – Protecting the Environment, Supporting Local Communities, Cultural Exchange & Education and Animal Welfare.
Sustainable travel and protecting the beautiful destinations we visit is one of our highest priorities. We undertake regular eco-audits of our operations to ensure we’re minimising our impact on the natural environment and take action accordingly.
We ensure every tour we run has direct and positive impact on the local community and tour costs go to those that need it most. Each tour has a variety of Small Changes that we’ve created, that our customers get to experience first hand.
Understanding and respecting local cultures is at the core of everything we do. Every trip we run includes a number of authentic experiences that will give you a real feel for the communities we visit.
We also work to ensure animals are never harmed or negatively affected by our activities. We support a number of local animal welfare groups and have adopted a number of rescue animals at the properties we own.
Some examples initiatives in this area are:
Siem Reap Villages - The rural villages of Siem Reap, Cambodia are very impoverished areas. Often young children cannot attend school there, simply because their family cannot afford the necessary uniforms and school supplies. From both our own contributions and the small leftover change of our group members we work directly with the local village chiefs to provide the necessary materials to the children that need it most.
Charlie’s Children’s Charity - At our property Sarana Bungalows in Koh Phangan, Thailand we collect group members and guests old clothes, toiletries and leftover coins they no longer want and distribute it to Charlie’s Chil-dren Charity, who work with disadvantaged children and the mentally handicapped to give them clothes, food, toiletries and medical equipment like crutches etc.
Earthquake Relief - A major earthquake on August 5th, 2018 devastated North Lombok and much of the Gili Is-lands. With the help of other tour operators we managed to raise over $50,000 to help the local community. We personally delivered several shipments of supplies to the hardest hit areas including to Hifan our Gili Boat Operator, whose family was greatly affected by the earthquake.
Gift Of Travel – Our local guides / legends are the backbone of our operations and a very special part of the IN-TRO family. Several times a year we offer the opportunity for one or more of our local guides to travel to another one of our destinations or choose an experience they may not normally get to do, courtesy of and with love from us.
We provide a detailed Responsible Travel Talk at the beginning of every tour we operate, which details a wide range of suggestions and advice on sustainable travel practices and our Leaders are trained to monitor and help ensure these are maintained throughout the tour, including reducing water use and relevant suggestions to minimise damage to the environment and wildlife ecosystems. We audit every single activity to ensure they have appropriate waste services. e.g. An island boat tour in Thailand must have appropriate bins for waste and we trace where this is disposed off to ensure it’s done correctly. We audit every single accommodation provider to ensure they are providing adequate free drinking water for our guests to minimise single use plastic bottles.
Plastic Waste - We’ve successfully installed refillable water stations at every one of our overnight stops and at many of our activities on every tour in every destination we operate, Therefore drastically reducing the need for single use plastic bottles on any of our trips. We offer refillable water bottles for cheap to all group members that don’t already have one. We’ve also since met with and ensured every operator including bars and restaurants we frequent have either paper, bamboo or reusable straws, and no plastic straws. We also offer branded tote bags to all customers to eliminate the need for plastic bags. we have also mobilised our Operations team across Asia to meet with all our third party operators including restaurants and bars and discuss and educate them on more eco friendly practices. e.g. We negotiated and convinced our Ha Long Bay, Vietnam boat operator to become the first zero plastic boat operator on Ha Long Bay.
We have created and distributed our own Bamboo poster boards to be displayed at our stops and accommodations across Asia that give basic, easy to understand information on reducing waste, single use plastics and general sustainable practices.
We do the above as we understand that our biggest impact goes beyond merely our own staff and customers but motivating and changing the habits of the greater industry, especially throughout Asia, which is typically a little behind in this area.
Our head office in Sydney and the two other properties we own and operate in Thailand and Bali are very focused on environmental responsibility. We have recycling tubs in place for cardboard/paper, glass and containers and a food waste bin. We have refillable water stations throughout so there’s no need to buy bottles of water and offer reusable cups and bamboo straws where needed.
10 Trees for EVERY booking we receive. - We’re partnered with Eden Reforestation Projects to help protect, preserve and rebuild the natural world. From February 1st 2020 we’ve been planting 10 trees for every INTRO Travel booking made! By hiring local villagers to plant trees in Nepal, Haiti, Indonesia & more, Eden Reforestation Projects are helping replant forests, restore animal habitats and reduce poverty and INTRO Travel are proud to support them.
Beach Clean Ups - We undertake regular beach clean ups across a number of our destinations to help tackle the ongoing issue of plastic and non-biodegradable waste ending up on the beautiful areas we visit. We’ve also partnered with some amazing organisations such as Trash Hero in Thailand and Gili Eco Trust in Indonesia to help our cause.
Clearing Land Mines - Unexploded mines are a massive problem in Cambodia and there are still 2-6 million unexploded bomb remnants in the rural areas of Siem Reap. INTRO is working closely with APOPO, a non-government organisation based in Siem Reap that trains rats to detect bombs so they can be safely detonated. We have adopted our own rat named Magawa that helps save thousands of lives and allow the affected land to be used again!
Sustainable Farming - Our Thai Experience trip supports the development of the Rungfah Farm Stay in Khao Sok National Park. Created by our good friend and local guide ‘Mr You’ it’s a back to basics organic farm promoting sustainable and eco friendly living. Mr You has built the home stay by hand and uses solar power for an energy source. All money paid to Mr You goes towards helping his family and the upkeep and of his eco-farm.
Buddhist Monk School - In Sri Lanka we work closely with a small ‘Pirivena’ or Buddhist monk school in Galle. All monies spent on this portion of our tour goes towards the maintenance and development of the school. Our groups teach English and spend time with the young monk students to learn about their way of life. We also regu-larly donate much needed supplies and equipment such as computers, water stations etc
Mekong Village - Mr Op and his family from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam started with humble beginnings and only a couple of bungalows on a small island on the Delta. After 2 years of support from our groups visiting and experiencing how the locals really live there, he’s been able to create enough bungalows for our groups to stay with him and his family on this tiny island on the Delta.
Gede’s Family - When we first started operations in Bali we wanted to make a real difference to the local community in Lovina, a beautiful quiet area in northern Bali. This is when we first met Gede and his lovely family who live on a small farm and coffee plantation. Our groups have visited Gede and had a first hand experience of basket weaving, coffee production and local life ever since. And through our continued involvement, Gede, his family and the local community have benefited greatly.
The above are part of a growing list of initiatives that fall under our Small Change responsible travel policy. As part of our Small Change initiative and our sustainable travel guidelines set out at the beginning of each tour, being respectful and conscious of our impact on local communities is key. We not only minimise any negative impact we actively look to provide a positive impact in every community we engage with.