AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators
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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.

Turning ‘’mottainai’’ (waste) into ‘’arigatou’’ (thanks): supporting food banking in Japan

Japan is a fascinating country which captures the heart of our clients and staff at InsideAsia Tours. At first sight, however, it’s not apparent that 20 million people in Japan live below the poverty line and struggle to make ends meet.

For this reason, InsideAsia Tours has been supporting Second Harvest Japan (2HJ) since 2015. 2HJ is an NGO which collects surplus food from manufactures and distributes it to children’s homes, single-mother shelters, centres for the disabled, soup kitchens and individuals in need.

In 2018 InsideAsia Tours are continuing this partnership by making it easier for our clients donate to 2HJ through administrating a transport card return scheme. We provide our clients with a transport card pre-loaded with credit so they can travel around Japan’s cities with ease, however after their holiday this card is no longer any use to them. From summer 2018 we’ll provide a pre-paid envelope to our clients so they can send their transport cards back to us. We’ll exchange the cards and donate all remaining credit to 2HJ. Over 12 months, we aim to receive 1000 cards and donate £3,000. We will also promote the work of 2HJ and encourage clients to donate extra funds to the charity via an online payment portal.

This project allows InsideAsia Tours and our clients to work together to make a positive contribution to Japanese society. Japan has enriched our lives so we’d like to return a token of our appreciation to those in need.

  • Giving clients an opportunity to donate the credit on their transport cards to a Second Harvest Japan, food banking charity which runs multiple programs including providing emergency help after natural disasters.
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Protecting and enhancing wild places in the UK

Absolute Escapes already works closely with the John Muir Trust (www.johnmuirtrust.org), a charity dedicated to protecting and enhancing wild places in the UK. The philosophy of the Trust fits in with our Company ethos about promoting the great outdoors and making it accessible through the walking holidays and self-drive itineraries we create around Scotland.

In 2018 we pledge to further promote our partnership with the Trust. We will include their logo and information about their activities on our website, social media channels and in all documentation that we send to our clients. This will reach over 150,000 people via our website, and 5,500 people via our social media channels. We will also include a leaflet in every information pack and details on our pledge to approx 1000 clients per year including details on how they can make their own donation.

We also pledge to arrange two conservation Volunteer Days for our team at Glenlude estate in the Scottish Borders. This will involve planting 200 trees on the estate to assist with rewilding this former sheep farm and conifer plantation into a mosaic of native habitats.

Finally, we will use the Give as you Live (www.giveasyoulive.com) website so all stationery and printing purchases we make results in a donation of £150.00 to the Trust.

Our aim is to help the Trust provide wilder, more beautiful countryside for our customers to enjoy and to demonstrate that we can all contribute in small ways to the restoration of wild land and responsible tourism.

  • We will arrange conservation days at Glenlude estate in the Scottish Borders where we will plant over 200 trees
  • We will promote the Trust in all our communications with our clients
  • We will raise money via an online fundraising platform
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Helping rural families in India to be water self-sufficient

In 2018/2019 TransIndus pledges to help build roof rainwater harvesting systems in villages in Rajasthan. These rural communities face drought forcing women and children to walk over two kilometres in a desperate search for water. Rajasthan is a location which has given us and our clients a vast array of enriching experiences over the years and we want to give something back to these wonderful communities.

We will help protect these communities by providing them with safer, cleaner and sustainable water by installing rainwater harvesting systems for five households in rural villages. We will do this in cooperation with the charity “Water Harvest” which has already installed 112 of these systems working with one village at a time.

This year, Water Harvest aim to install 50 new systems. Each one costs approximately £300 including material costs, building work, support, education and maintenance. Each of the five systems TransIndus helps install will be funded entirely from company profits. We are proud to be supporting this work and helping to change the lives of these villagers for the better.

In addition to the above funds, we aim to involve our customers in the project. We encourage them to visit some of the villages to see the systems being built, to contribute in person by offering expertise and support or to donate money towards the installation of further rain water harvesting tanks.

To learn more about the project and how you can make a difference

  • Visit www.transindus.co.uk/about/responsible-tourism/
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Reducing single-use plastics and encouraging the use of reusable items

Plastic waste is becoming an increasing problem in travel. In 2018 KE want to help prevent this and ensure sites remain beautiful for all to enjoy by making an official commitment to reducing single-use plastics and by encouraging the use of other reusable items.

We will educate clients on the effects of using non-reusable items. Our kit-lists and pre trip information will remind all of their clients to take their own water bottle and a non-plastic reusable bag. We will begin to establish links with companies who provide alternatives to single-use products so we can provide a customer discount and empower them to buy reusable items.

We will also inform our ground agents that reducing single-use plastic is a priority and work with them to resolve any issues surrounding this. We want 70% of agents to agree to stop providing single-use plastic bottles on their trips within the year. This will prevent the use of around 10000 plastic bottles.

Finally, we want to start lead by example at our HQ. New guidelines and access to discounts will persuade at least 70% of our 34 members of staff to use alternatives for plastic bottles and single-use coffee cups. We will also take part in at least one local litter pick, starting with The Great Cumbrian Litter Pick, and better promote our efforts to protect the planet by improving our responsible travel web pages.

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Backing initiatives for local people and the environment

Here at Bamboo Travel we care deeply about the countries in which we operate. There are a number of worthwhile projects already being run in these destinations which support the sustainable tourism ethos. Our aim is to create a range of travel experiences incorporating these projects, which our clients can add to their tailor-made tour.

In 2018 we will introduce two experiences from four of our main destinations. In Cambodia we selected a tuk-tuk foodie tour of Siem Reap which supports training restaurants for underprivileged young adults, and in India, clients will be able to take part in a walking tour of Delhi conducted by former street kids. Similar projects will also be chosen for Laos and Sri Lanka. 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.

By the end of the year we will have eight experiences in total, which will be detailed on our new Sustainable Tourism webpage along with information on how clients can get involved and how they can make a difference.

We are aiming for a minimum of 100 clients to take part in these tours over the coming year. In addition to this, for every Sustainable Tourism experience booked, we will donate $10 per person to the Safe Haven Children’s Charity in Cambodia, a project we have supported for a number of years. This will generate an additional $1,000 in donations.

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Supporting Social Enterprise in Asia One Meal At A Time

In 2017 Experience Travel Group identified three social enterprise restaurants that we wished to support in Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia. We redesigned our tours in Hoi An, Lake Inle and Phomh Penh to include a lunch at one of these restaurants and we exceeded our pledge to make 150 bookings during the year. Each client who visited enjoyed a tasty meal while benefitting an organisation that invests in the future of vulnerable youth in the local community. We feel that supporting these organisations is a sustainable way in which tourism can have a powerful and positive social impact.

Our 2018 pledge is to expand our collaboration with these restaurants and involve more of our clients. We’ve identified three additional social enterprises: Fair Warung Bali in Bali, Hope Cafe in India and Friends in Laos. We pledge to make a total of 200 bookings by the end of the year creating an estimated $6000 in revenue for them. This is the equivalent to the cost of providing education and training support for three trainees.

We also aim to collaborate more closely with our in-country partners on this project in order to get regular feedback and be able to share information about the work of these social enterprises with our staff and 60,000-strong contact database. This will promote the values of sustainable travel to a wider audience and demonstrate how tourists can have a positive social and economic impact on the communities they visit, in way that enriches their own travel experience.

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Raising funds to train Mountain Guides in Tanzania

Discover Adventure funds a place each year for a budding porter, in Tanzania, to receive a recognised qualification in Tour Guiding and Wildlife Management from the Udzungwa Mountain College Trust.

At Discover Adventure, we care personally about investing in the countries we visit and contributing to the local economy. Our founders, Jonathan and Jane Bryan are passionate about giving back in a tangible way and have many friends amongst guides and operators in Tanzania. Without them we couldn't operate the challenges you love.

By funding a porter to receive training we not only provide a future guide for our groups, but also help them to support their family, raise their career prospects and enable their deeper understanding of sustainable and responsible tourism.

In 2018 we will be sponsoring two young porters, Amos and Elineka. Both have worked on the Mountain for 6-7 years. Elineka is our first female porter to be sponsored.

The 18 month long course is designed to enable studying whilst continuing to earn an income, however the course cost of Tsh2,720,000 is a huge amount for a porter to raise.

By donating just £10 you will directly contribute towards enabling Amos and Elineka to become qualified. Next time you visit Tanzania you may meet one of them or another guide, whose training you have helped fund and hear about the positive difference this training has made to their lives.

You can make your donation when booking on our website or by calling our office on 01722 718444.

  • Investing in local education and economy
  • Supporting environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism
  • Promoting gender equality
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Our AITO Project Protect pledge 2018

In 2018, we will ask each trekker booked onto a trip with us to pick up one kilogram of rubbish. During 2018 we will have approximately 200 trekkers travelling with one of our groups in Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and India and we will therefore pick up at least 200kg of litter.

"Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.” This is part of the Leave No Trace philosophy encouraging people to minimise their environmental impact when exploring the great outdoors. At The Mountain Company we want to go further by picking up rubbish found along the trekking trails and around the campsites. We have received client feedback that rubbish is a big problem and this unsightly mess has detracted from their holiday experience. By picking up litter this activity will make the environment cleaner and will help to maintain the natural beauty of the Himalaya and Karakoram mountains.

  • Our groups will talk to others to explain what they are doing aiming to inspire more trekkers to pick up rubbish too.
  • Our long-term goal is to make this the standard procedure for all our groups.
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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
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LATA Foundation

Journey Latin America currently supports The LATA Foundation, a UK-based charity that supports grassroots social and environmental projects throughout Latin America. These projects are carefully chosen and always aim to relieve poverty through sustainable development and environmental conservation. Over the past 10 years the Foundation has upheld this aim through a number of different initiatives. Projects supported include the provision of clean drinking water fountains to schools around Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, free dental care for hundreds of children in the ‘villas’ of Buenos Aires and the planting of more than 30,000 native trees in the Sacred Valley of Peru by local communities. The Foundation is also able to support emergency relief to affected areas through working with trusted local organisations.

  • The projects are usually located in areas where tourism is high and fall into four categories:
  • Education and training
  • Health
  • Community development
  • Conservation
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