Responsible Tourism

We are a responsible company, interested and engaged in the changing world around us. We not only want to act responsibly, but to take responsibility for the activities we undertake and mitigate negative impacts wherever we can.

This stuff matters to us. It isn’t a case of lip service or ticking boxes, but what we think we should and can be doing to reduce our impact on the environment that we treasure so much. Many of our adventures pass through fabulous wilderness, and we want to keep it that way.

So, without making a song and a dance about it, here’s a little of what we are up to.

Net Benefit Travel

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 will 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.

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.

We try and put back into the communities we travel through. We use local partners, encourage the employment of local people and contribute to training. We always try to choose accommodation that uses renewable energy and never encourage the use of firewood for heating where it is unsustainable for the local environment.

We encourage recycling at every stage of our trips – for client and local groups alike. We remove all rubbish from our picnic and other sites along our path and ensure this is dealt with responsibly.

We discourage and will report any cruelty to animals we encounter.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has published an 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.

Office Activities

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.

Our office procures energy from 100 per cent renewable sources and 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.

Plastic

We want to reduce single-use plastic, and we see the adventure travel sector as a huge contributor to the problem, sadly. Most of this is in plastic water bottles, but there is an alternative.

Every traveller on one of our trips is given a filter bottle that allows them to safely drink local water – from the tap, a stream, river or lake – during their trip and thereafter.

We aren’t forcing anyone to use them, but by giving them freely we hope that it will encourage our guests to explore the alternative single-use plastic bottles. Each year this saves thousands of plastic bottles being used and adding to waste in our destination countries.

Trees

Marley, one of our directors, has a background in renewable energy, and we want our carbon offset scheme to be more than just a matter of mindlessly ticking a few boxes. Hence we plant trees each year to offset our direct carbon dioxide emissions, and we offer the option to our customers to do the same for their flights too.

All calculations are done via the German carbon calculation website www.atmosfair.de which was rated by Friends of the Earth as the most accurate available. We aren’t planting in some far-away land grab, but less than 10 miles from our office, on land owned by friends and in trust for future generations.

The native species planted should have a good chance of being around long enough to offset the planned carbon. If a customer wants to get more involved, then they can join us to plant trees each spring. Simple. Sign up to our newsletter to find out how you can come and get muddy in Somerset for the day.

Palm Oil

This might seem a bit random but if you’ve ever spent time flying over or driving through what was once primary rainforest in South East Asia, you’ll know why avoiding palm oil is so important.

Because of the direct causal link between deforestation for palm oil and habitat loss for orangutans, we choose not to use products that contain palm oil or derivitives wherever we can.

It’s a small thing but we think the consequences are far greater than if we did nothing.

Your Safety in Our Hands

We don’t take any risks when it comes to your safety on one of our adventures.

Our company directors attend regular medical training courses and we travel with an extensive remote medical kit in any areas that require it.

We complete proper risk assessments for all of our adventures. These are based on a military-designed series of protocols and are in line with BS 8848, the British Standard for quality management of adventure holidays and expeditions outside the UK. Wherever necessary we commission professional, third party country assessments prior to travelling. This gives us a current snapshot of the situation in any given country.

We also work towards the ISO standards 21101 for Safety Management Systems in Adventure Travel, and ISO 21103 which covers the information to be given to those travelling with us. It is work in progress but we are aware of the standards and voluntarily working towards them.

We carry a satellite phone for emergencies in any location where cellular signal is at all doubtful.

We subscribe to Talk to a Doctor, meaning we have a UK doctor at the other end of the line 24/7 in the case of an emergency.

Not all companies take this comprehensive approach, preferring instead to hope nothing bad happens.

Sadly sometimes unfortunate things do occur, and we’d rather have developed a set of plans and procedures that we never have to use, than to have a problem and no plan.