AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators

Bamboo Travel Sustainability

Sustainable Tourism Projects from Bamboo Travel

Increase support for charitable projects in Asia

In 2018 Bamboo Travel successfully supported eight charitable projects in Cambodia, Laos, India and Sri Lanka. Our aim for 2019 is to increase the number of projects to 10 and add new experiences in Vietnam & Indonesia.

These projects provide locals with important new skills and a more sustainable income, and they also offer enjoyable experiences for our clients as well, giving them the opportunity to help and support the local communities they visit.

This year our new projects include a cooking class in Hanoi, which provides invaluable training and job opportunities for disadvantaged youths, and a visit to a school in Sri Lanka, which offers vital skills and employment for young adults in Sri Lanka’s under-supported Hill Country community.

We will donate US$10 to one of the following charities for each client booked onto one of these experiences: Bicycles for Girls in Nepal, and a fig-planting program in Borneo. By the end of this pledge’s two year period we hope to have raised $2,000 (200 clients) which will be split between our selected charities.

We are aware that the success of our pledge is very much reliant upon creating awareness of these experiences. Therefore this year we also intend to inspire interest through a sustainable tourism themed newsletter, a series of blog posts and by actively promoting our pledge to clients travelling to one of the above destinations.

We are excited to be supporting new projects and charities this year that we are confident can really make a difference to local people’s lives.

Find out more:

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Backing initiatives for local people and the environment

In 2018 we wanted to choose a pledge which reflected what we already do as a company. There are a number of extremely worthwhile projects already being run in all the countries we work in, which are often in dire need of support, so rather than focusing our efforts on just one place we chose to make an impact across a range of different areas. Our pledge this year was to identify eight sustainable tourism experiences across four of our key destinations, and increase bookings of these tours. For every client booked onto one of these experiences we pledged to donate US$10 to our selected charity.

We are proud to say that we managed to achieve over two thirds of our target, despite only starting this project halfway through the year, and we have raised US$690 so far for Safe Haven. They are currently in the process of looking for new projects to implement within Cambodia, and we hope our donation will help to bring this about.

Through our pledge we have supported a variety of causes, including literacy among children in Laos, wildlife conservation in Laos & Cambodia, and an NGO providing employment as tour guides for former street children in Delhi. It has been interesting to see that some of the experiences we chose have been more popular than others. The clear winner was the Taste for a Good Cause food tour, which takes clients to several socially-conscious restaurants in Siem Reap. This tour accounted for over half of our total bookings. Feedback from those who have taken this experience has been invariably positive, with some people reporting that they planned to return to some of the restaurants visited on the tour independently, thereby generating further revenue for the restaurants and their training programs, even outside of our specific pledge! Some of the experiences have been less successful, so one of our aims for 2019 is to review the current experiences to see where we can improve and potentially make some changes, as well as adding more excursions.

One of the biggest benefits of the pledge for us personally is that it has encouraged us to think about all our tours more responsibly in general, and look for more sustainable alternatives wherever possible, not just within the confines of our 2018 pledge.