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.

Engaging with local businesses

Successful sustainable tourism depends on travellers personally engaging in authentic local experiences. Clients return having enjoyed a richer holiday experience and communities gain from direct investment in small businesses and the preservation of traditional crafts. Bearing this in mind Kirker will improve and increase such possibilities in Italy, France and Spain over the coming years.
In 2019 Kirker will focus on implementing this long term goal in Italy, our most important destination. We will update and extend our Guide Notes for Italy, to recommend more locally-run and independently-owned businesses that contribute to the long-term social and cultural fabric of the destination and to communicate better the benefits of sustainable tourism. .
In addition, we will introduce a new weekly walking tour in Florence for all Kirker clients at a subsidised cost to help them discover smaller museums, local restaurants and traditional artisans where authentic crafts, customs and skills are preserved. We will also better promote travel to Italy at off-peak times for more authentic experiences and to help reduce over tourism.
Finally, Kirker will raise more than £10,000 in donations from client events and sponsorship by the end of 2019 for charities, including the Venice in Peril Fund which is devoted to the preservation of cultural and social heritage. Kirker is delighted to be able to continue to support local individuals, businesses and charities in our most important destinations. In doing so we aim to raise awareness and encourage more responsible and rewarding travel among our guests.

  • Help visitors to engage with authentic local experiences
  • Promote local businesses: bars, restaurants and shops
  • Subsidised walking tours with local experts
  • Raise a minimum of £10,000 for charity to support conservation
Find out more

Promoting the Protection and Preservation of Natural Landscapes in the UK - Our 2019 AITO Protect Pledge

In 2019 Absolute Escapes have chosen to focus on becoming a more environmentally conscientious tour operator by introducing comprehensive sustainability policies for our employees and promoting sustainable practices to our clients.

More specifically, we aim to create a comprehensive Sustainability Policy covering all areas of our business for each member of our team to actively engage with. We will also promote sustainable tourism practices in communication with clients prior to their holiday (approx. 1000 clients per annum) as well as through our social media channels.

In order to further highlight our commitment to sustainable tourism, we will continue our work with the John Muir Trust, dedicating 30 volunteer days to the Trust; organise a monthly litter pick-up in the green-areas of Edinburgh, our hometown; and our staff will also pick up litter on their trips outside the office. We will also participate in a charity fund-raising event in aid of Venture Scotland (, aiming to raise £500 for them to improve the lives of young people in Scotland by teaching them outdoor skills to help with their personal development.

The promotion of the protection and preservation of natural landscapes in the UK is important to us as we benefit directly from the natural beauty of our surroundings. It will benefit our clients and destinations by protecting the landscapes that they visit on their holidays with us.

We hope that by engaging in these promises and promoting them to our clients we will encourage further interest and discussion on conservation.

  • Create a comprehensive sustainability policy
  • Promote sustainable tourism practices with our clients
  • Continue our work with the John Muir Trust
  • Monthly litter-picking activities
  • Fund-raise for Venture Scotland
Find out more

Supporting social enterprise and environmental conservation initiatives in Cambodia

For our 2019 AITO Project PROTECT pledge we will therefore focus on one of our most important and much-loved destinations – Cambodia. We will expand our support for grassroots initiatives in Cambodia by promoting simple but positive changes in our holiday itineraries.

  • .
Find out more

To help combat litter and promote the reduction of single-use plastics in Morocco and further afield

In 2019 KE Adventure Travel is focusing on reducing litter and single-use plastics in Morocco. We’ve seen first-hand and heard from clients that litter is a significant problem there and want to ensure we leave no trace when we travel there and help combat the issue too.

This year we will arrange 2 unique departures for 2020 on our Edge of the Sahara Trek. This will involve using 2 extra camels so we can responsibly bring back litter collected by clients. Our aim will be for each client to collect 1 kilo, so that for 2 full trips with 12 pax each we will collect 24 kilos from the Sahara desert in total. If successful we will run these special departures each year.

We also want to continue to develop our project from last year by providing our leaders in KE's top 10 destinations, with 10 free Water-to-Go bottles per country. Leaders can then reliably access clean water and lead by example for our clients. We’re going to get clients involved and make this sustainable by giving them the option to buy a KE branded Water-to-Go bottle at a discounted rate, whereby one filter is donated for a guide. In the next 6 months we aim to sell 125 Water-to-Go bottles generating the same amount of filters for the guides.

  • Our customers will benefit greatly from both projects as they’ll contribute directly to the issue and give back to an area they love to visit.
Find out more

Supporting the start of sustainable businesses around the world

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

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

Dragoman Overland has supported a number of responsible travel projects for many years but has not promoted these effectively in the past or sought donations from their passengers to support them. In April 2019 we therefore created “Dragoman Supports”, a formal entity to raise awareness with our clients and which will enable them to visit these projects and then make direct donations via a new web system.

In 2019 we will have this new system up and running and ready for clients to make donations to projects included in Dragoman Supports. Over the coming year we will aim to involve a minimum of 500 customers in these tours and we aim for a minimum of 250 clients to make a £2 donation which will raise £1,000.

Dragoman Supports currently includes a total of 21 projects. These projects are either supported financially by Dragoman or are visited on specific tours by our passengers. Each project is selected on the basis that it invests in the community by providing employment and training for local people and enables our passengers to participate and increase their awareness of sustainability and responsible travel. making a direct positive impact by taking part.

To find out more about Dragoman Supports or to make a donation go to the Responsible Travel pages on the Dragoman website or donate using our booking system at the time of booking.

  • Dragoman Supports has a mission to
  • Support local communities
  • protect the environment we travel through
  • assist wildlife conservation work particularly with endangered species
Find out more

Transforming the lives of families living on the shores of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala through art.

Helping the village of Santa Catalina, on the shores of Lake Atitlan , by supporting the Pintando Project which aims to change the lives of the community through thoughtful street art linked to Maya tradition.

  • . Make as much money as possible for the project !
  • . Help promote the project by introducing as many people as possible to this vibrant destination.
Find out more

Protecting Scotland's marine life

At McKinlay Kidd we recognise that Scotland’s coastal environment is as fragile as it is breath-taking. We understand the importance of protecting this environment and those that live in it for future generations.

  • • Reduce the impact of tourism on the marine environment through education
  • • Inform people travelling to the Hebrides about the need for marine life protection
  • • Promote the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust
Find out more

Leading by example to reduce plastics in InsideAsia Tours offices and destinations

Implement initiatives to reduce plastics in offices and destinations for the benefit of the environment.

  • Reducing plastic use in our offices.
  • Encouraging tour leaders and staff on FAM trips to lead by example.
  • Empowering our clients to reduce their plastic use by giving them language tools to refuse plastic and to prepare them in advance.
Find out more

Cyclone Kenneth Relief

Mozambique, is a beautiful country that we at Africa Collection are proud to have worked with for many
years. We understand the necessity to help protect and develop the destination, especially after the recent natural disasters that have had devastating effects and will continue to have long-term impacts.

In 2019 we have therefore chosen to work with the two organisations that are already helping to rebuild this beautiful country.

Firstly, we aim to raise £1,000.00 through fundraising this year for the Disaster Emergency Committe (DEC). This money will go specifically towards their Cyclone Idai Appeal to deliver relief such as emergency shelter kits, food, water purification tablets and urgent healthcare to the affected areas.

We also aim to raise £5,000.00 for a project of the Nema Foundation in Northern Mozambique which helps rebuild the communities washed away by Cyclone Kenneth. To raise this money we will double every £5.00 donation made by a client on a booking to raise the total donated from each booking to £15.00. We will also carry out further fundraising activities such as a raffle and a sponsored walk. The Nema Foundation work to equip rural communities to sustainably eradicate poverty in their villages by creating projects that overlap and reinforce each other, creating stronger foundations for continued development.

The money Africa Collection raises will be vital for completely rebuilding communities and helping them to get back on their feet and continue to thrive. If you would like to further support this cause, please donate here:

    Find out more