AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators

Dragoman Overland Sustainability

Dragoman Overland

Our sustainable Tourism Vision

The philosophy of travelling responsibly has been at the heart of Dragoman since we were founded in 1991. We are dedicated to building a sustainable travel business and environmental, social and ethical considerations are key to our decision-making. We care about travelling in a way that has a positive impact on the environment and on the communities we visit, ensuring everyone involved respects and maintains the natural and often delicate balance of the destination.

As travellers ourselves we are well aware of the impact that tourism can have and whilst economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, it should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment. The journeys we offer are designed to not only be incredible experiences, but to have the most positive impact on the places that we visit.

We passionately believe that we should not impose our own cultures on others but instead can experience and respect the differences between the cultures we visit and our own.

To deliver these objectives, we have forged long-standing relationships with suppliers that share both our joy of adventure and our responsible travel ethos.

Sustainable Tourism Projects from Dragoman Overland

Creating a formal Responsible Travel Programme to raise awareness about projects that Dragoman Overland support.

Dragoman Overland already supported a number of responsible travel projects. Our aim in creating Dragoman Supports was to create a formal entity for these projects to raise awareness with our clients which would also enable them to make donations and thereby support the projects themselves.

Dragoman operates in the Americas, Africa and Asia and the aim was to ensure that our pax are able to visit projects that we are directly involved with and to provide support via their visits. Clients would also be able to make donations via a new web system that is being introduced.

These tours, many run by not-for-profit organisations, invest in the community by providing employment and training for local people, and our clients can make a direct impact by taking part.

We now have 21 experiences in total, which are detailed on our new Responsible Tourism web page along with information on how clients can get involved and how they can make a difference.

The need for a formal entity to Dragoman’s responsible travel work was long overdue. It was important to spread the message to our clients and to make sure that it was working at its best so that we could assist as many projects as we could as effectively as possible.

Minimising Single Use Plastic Bottles

Like many travellers Dragoman are shocked by the plastic pollution in many of the destinations that we visit. Often local guides will be quizzed by clients as to why nothing is done about the obvious devastation at sites of such great beauty. In tune with our responsible tourism policy Dragoman wants to minimise our environmental impact in the countries we visit as far as possible.

Whilst visiting cities or trekking, our customers often buy water in single use plastic bottles. To try to improve this situation we began working with Water to Go bottles in 2018 whereby we offer our customers the opportunity to purchase WTG bottles at a 25% discount prior to trip.

We began by gifting a WTG bottle to our crew and staff and asked them to encourage our customers and friends and family to use the bottles. The bottles were received enthusiastically. We promote the bottles in our confirmatory documentation, on our website, on our trucks and our crew are regularly reminded to promote the bottles whilst on trip. We have received some great positive feedback such as “convenient and responsible” and our customers have been filling up from lakes, streams, public water fountains and even street taps in India!

However, despite our efforts the known take up from our customers has been disappointing. Change of behaviour has been very difficult to encourage. So far we have sold 25 bottles in 6 months which, if we assume each customer reduces their consumption of plastic bottles by 10, amounts to a reduction in plastic bottles of 250 bottles, which still represents a substantial number.

The take up of bottles has increased steadily over the months, particularly after we found the best way to promote them, and we remain optimistic that our target of 5% of our customers purchasing bottles per annum will be reached. After a year, we will review the take up and consider any amendments to improve our strategy. We will continue to promote the bottles and hope to introduce another project to reduce our environmental impact within the next year.

Saying NO to single use plastic bottles

In many of the destinations we visit, we find the land and waterways littered with plastic bottles. At Dragoman Overland we are committed to the reduction of plastic waste and we actively encourage our customers to use refillable water bottles and the drinking water supplied on our trucks. However, we also wish to reduce the number of plastic bottles purchased by our clients, when away from the truck, by offering our clients the opportunity to purchase a Water-to-Go bottle at a discounted price. This bottle has a filtration system, thus enabling our clients to have access to clean potable water when away from the truck without adding to plastic pollution within the destination.

By the end of 2018, we will ensure that all 80 of our crew and office staff are issued with WTG bottles so they can actively encourage our clients to purchase these bottles for use on our trips. We will also highlight the benefits of these reusable bottles on our website, in our confirmation emails to our clients and in our newsletters.
We will monitor the number of bottles purchased and estimate that each bottle purchased will save on average at least three disposable water bottles per trip week. It is our aim that 5% of our clients will purchase WTG bottles annually.

We hope that these measures will help out clients to continue to refuse to purchase water in single use plastic bottles on their future travels, thus reducing the amount of plastic waste that is created.

  • Reduced waste of single use bottles
  • Allows access to clean potable water
  • Discount available through Dragoman website of 25% off