AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators

Members Practising Sustainable Tourism

Members Practising Sustainable Tourism
You can view each members' sustainable tourism projects under their own company listing. Here is an overview of some of the fantastic work going on in the UK and abroad by our members.

2019 Testimonial

In 2019 Tucan Travel pledged to begin to develop robust internal systems and information. Known as our Purpose, this has been a driving force to develop United Nation Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) specific links and understanding in our policies and internal communication.
This process has enabled us to draw attention to and promote the passion that existed across the company for responsible travel. This has always underpinned our work but has never previously been brought to the fore.

We believe that it is only by seeing and engaging with different people, cultures and habitats that we can begin to have an understanding of the world around us. It is only through understanding that we can hope to learn how to protect and conserve the world for future generations of all species.

  • Strengthening our communication
  • Understanding our shared values
  • Providing staff support
  • Conducting a policy review
  • Critically reviewing our products
  • Celebrating a culture of learning
Find out more

Protecting Ecuadorian Cloudforest with the World Land Trust and EcoMinga

In 2019, together with our clients, Naturetrek donated over £53,000 to the World Land Trust, to reduce the carbon impact of our flights by purchasing and protecting 240 acres of critically endangered cloudforest in the Ecuadorian Andes.

    Find out more

    Mountain Kingdoms Helps You Do Your Bit to Reduce Plastic Waste

    In 2019 Mountain Kingdoms offered most of its clients a free Water to Go filtered water bottle. In 10 months we have given away 367 water bottles which has stopped many thousands of plastic bottles being used just once; helping to reduce plastic production and the subsequent possible litter problem.

    • We now offer clients the choice of a free filtered water bottle on the majority of our trips.
    • This could stop over 20,500 single use 500ml plastic bottles being used by Mountain Kingdoms clients annually.
    Find out more

    Carbon Neutral Holidays

    Scandinavian Travel deliver carbon neutral holidays by offsetting the carbon footprint generated per person on all our holidays.

    We do this by:
    - Supporting reforestation projects in the UK and Amazon
    - Supporting a sustainable project as voted for by our customers. The chosen project this year was for the supply of energy efficient stoves in Kenya

    These certified carbon offsetting projects have been chosen by Scandinavian Travel and our customers to match our values and provide real and significant improvements to carbon generation both here in the UK and in developing countries.

    Find out more

    Travelling with Purpose

    Tucan Travel has been committed to the principles of sustainability and environmental and species protection since its inception over 30 years ago. Despite this on-going commitment, we have yet to formalise and make public our approach to sustainable and responsible travel.

    Our involvement in the AITO PROTECT Project is by way of remedying that by explicitly stating our vision and our road map for change.

    We would like to live in a world where our experience of adventure is open to everyone. We are realistic enough to now that as a small independent company there is a limit to what we can achieve. Doing nothing isn't an option, so we act with purpose to do what we can where we are and will guide and trust our tribe of Tucan Travellers to do the same.

    Our goal is to operate in a manner that is responsible to this generation, whoever or wherever they are, without compromising the potential of future generations. This applies to all species. To achieve our goal we must first check that our house is in order. To that end, or 2019/2020 pledge is to critically review our practice and prepare for change wherever it is needed to achieve our goal.

    • By April '20 we will:
    • Update our internal and external communications to reflect our position on sustainable and responsible travel
    • Critically review our tours
    • Plan for change
    • Collaborate with stakeholders re potential change
    Find out more

    Pintando El Cambio project

    Pintando El Cambio project uses art to lift spirits, preserve traditions and generate much-needed tourism in Santa Catarina, Guatemala. This year Journey Latin America raised funds for six of the 400 houses painted with Mayan traditional designs.

    • This is a project that we could tangibly see was lifting the spirits of a town by using art. We at JLA have a long term and deep rooted affiliation and affection for the people and traditions of Guatemala.
    Find out more

    Supporting the start of sustainable businesses around the world (2019)

    In 2019 Explore’s pledge will focus on boosting our Start-up-Fund programme, something that we are very passionate about and proud of. The aim of this fund is to enable local people in the countries we visit, and care about, to start sustainable, self-sufficient and reliable businesses. Since its launch in 2016, this initiative helped eight businesses to get off the ground. They include purchasing looms for women’s’ cooperatives in Morocco, a vertical garden project in Cambodia and a bike repair shop with apprentice scheme in Tanzania.

    In 2019 we aim to grow the Start-up-Fund by supporting three more projects. We will fund these with £3,000 raised by commission from the sale of Water-to-Go filtered bottles to our customers (15% per purchase) and by Explore’s Responsible Business Forum budget.

    In August we will ask our local agents around the world to nominate brand new business ideas or small, grass-roots start-ups that need a boost of funding. The ideas must be sustainable and be able to continue to flourish without continued financial support. The winners will be announced in September and communicated in customer publications, on our social media channels and the specific charities page of Explore’s website. In some locations there will be opportunities for our customers to visit the projects and see the benefit to local communities.

    • Our Start-up-Fund has a sustainable impact on the livelihoods of the communities our trips visit, reaching beyond the recipients by providing inspiration, skills training and job opportunities.
    Find out more

    Complete the requirements to achieve a Travelife Partnership at the end of 2019.

    At Audley we have always been focused on traveling the right way, but we have not always been good at communicating this to clients and staff. We decided the best way to address this challenge was to work towards a Travelife Partnership, which we started in 2017. Travelife ( is an international sustainability certification guiding travel companies to meet high environmental, social and economics impact standards.

    In 2019, we pledge to complete our Travelife partnership by implementing our Audley Travel Sustainability policy stating our sustainability commitments across the business. In addition, we will publish our 2019 Sustainability report informing clients and staff on our sustainability achievement this year and commitments for the following year. Working toward our partnership has helped us to improve across the board and record our social and environmental impact. This will create a solid base on which to build our future vision.

    Upon completion we will share our Sustainability Policy with our clients and staff to hold ourselves accountable going forward. An intrinsic part of the Travelife partnership is ensuring we work hard to educate clients and staff on how they can help us on our journey to even more sustainable and responsible travel in the years to come.

    For more information on our pledge please contact Audley Travel’s Responsible Travel and Sustainability Manager, Heather Magnussen.

    • - Sign up for a Travelife Partnership
    • -Work across the business to alter the way we worked to meet the Travelife guidelines
    • - Submit application to be approved for a partnership
    • -Annual check ins to maintain partnership status
    Find out more


    Tribes Travel takes responsible and sustainable tourism seriously. Since we started Tribes Travel in January 1998, we always aimed to offer travellers authentic, high quality holidays, and to do it in a responsible and sensitive way in regards the earth’s natural and cultural assets.

    We developed TRAVEL + PROTECT, a digital booklet to give clear information to our clients about how Tribes organises trips that promote responsible travel, how we help our destinations and to highlight various grass roots projects that we support through our charity, The Tribes Foundation. TRAVEL + PROTECT includes informative articles for clients to help them travel responsibly through their own actions.

    We believe that, given the facts & opportunity, most travellers would choose to make a positive difference to their world. We hope that our TRAVEL + PROTECT digital booklet helps point the way to more responsible travel.

    • Promote sustainable tourism practices
    • Help clients to make the right choices when travelling
    • Use website, blogs, newsletters to convey message
    • Raise awareness for The Tribes Foundation
    • Promote grass roots projects we support
    Find out more

    Five new holidays promoting the use of public transport around the destination

    In 2019 Scandinavia Only will research and develop a programme of packaged holidays which are based on, and include, in-destination public transport as the primary means of transportation. Our target is to introduce and promote an additional three public transport holidays for the summer of 2020 and an extra two for the winter of 2020. This will increase our public transport holidays from 5 to 8 tours in the summer and 3 to 5 tours in the winter.

    Public transport services, especially buses, are a means of transportation many customers do not use regularly at home. We will therefore present these journeys in an exciting and adventurous way making them more desirable experiences and not just a way of getting from A to B. Once a customer arrives in their destination country, their transportation between resorts i.e. the places where they will spend the night/s, will be by public transport following a detailed travel itinerary with pre-purchased tickets for all domestic journeys. This will provide the customer with a more authentic, ‘everyday’ experience and an opportunity to meet and travel alongside local people.

    By doing this we will be supporting local transport companies who will benefit from additional income for their service, benefit the environment by using existing transport services and reducing CO² emissions from the alternative car hire option, and providing a steady and sustainable level of individual, experiential tourists who spend more in the destinations they travel to.

    • Research local bus routes.
    • Ensure bus journeys can be included in package.
    • Create holiday itineraries.
    • Promote tours via website and brochure.
    Find out more