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.

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

    Reducing single-use plastic bottles on our tours and festivals.

    In 2019, Martin Randall Travel are starting a new initiative to reduce the number of single-use plastic water bottles distributed on our tours and festivals. Currently, we provide these bottles on coach travel for all clients on our tours. In 2019 so far, this amounts to 27,472 bottles.

    This year,however, we aim to reduce this by 12% percent thus saving 3,333 single-use bottles. We will do this by asking all clients travelling on select tours from June 2019 onwards to bring a reusable water bottle or purchase a Water-to-Go bottle, particularly useful for destinations where tap water isn’t drinkable, instead of providing plastic bottles on coaches. We will then roll out the initiative across our global destinations with the aim to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles on all tours by 2021.

    By partnering with Water-to-Go we are able to offer MRT clients a 15% discount when they purchase a bottle. Water-to-Go bottles are built for life, have zero carbon footprint and filter out 99% of bacteria in dirty water. Water-to-Go will also donate 15% of all proceeds to our chosen charity – the India Solar Water Heating project led by Natural Capital Partners, which provides solar water heaters to households in India fuelled by renewable energy.

    By implementing this pledge MRT and its clients will be helping to reduce plastic consumption and waste, thus protecting the wonderful environments we travel through, especially those with limited infrastructure to dispose of plastic waste, and our beautiful oceans.

    More information:

    • Use the code 'MARTINRANDALL' for a 15% discount.
    Find out more

    Sustaining the Threatened Livelihoods of Sri Lanka's Chauffeur-Guides (2019)

    Experience Travel Group has raised £15,157 in a crowdfunding campaign, to support our freelance chauffeur guides in Sri Lanka whose livelihoods were threatened by the sudden drop in tourism following the bomb attacks of Easter Sunday 2019.

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    Find out more

    WAKE (c)up and reduce single-use plastic

    At Discover the World we believe there are many ways we can take responsibility for our travel and if we all work together we can help make a difference. Avoiding single-use plastic is one of the easiest changes we can make and one that will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste which ends up in our oceans.

    Discover the World is committed to help reduce this waste and in 2019 we are proud to be working in partnership with Global WAKEcup, a local company offering stylish alternatives to single-use cups, bottles, bags and straws. Our clients, staff and suppliers can use our exclusive discount code ‘DTW15’ to receive a 15% discount on any purchases through Global WAKEcup. We will encourage our clients to either make a purchase before they travel using this code and to take their new reusable items with them on holiday or alternatively to take re-usable items with them that they already own.

    Our aim is to reach 100 purchases through Global WAKEcup. If each purchase includes a re-useable bottle this would save up to 2100 plastic bottles being used (assuming each person would buy 3 bottles a day on a 7 day holiday). What’s more 10% of the profit will go directly to The Marine Conservation Society, who campaign tirelessly to educate and prevent the devastating effects of single-use plastic pollution on our oceans and marine wildlife.

    Use our discount today and help us take action against single-use plastic:

    • Reduces single-use plastic waste
    • Supports The Marine Conservation Society
    • Supports Global WAKEcup - a small, local British company
    • Provides clients, staff and suppliers with a 15% discount
    Find out more

    Our Pledge to Reduce Plastic Pollution in Greece

    We're delighted to have submitted our first Project Protect Pledge in 2019!
    In addition to our pledge, we are working on a number of other things to reduce our impact on the Greek islands, a few of which are:

    • - Supplying eco-friendly cleaning products on all our flotilla yachts
    • - Using bio-degradable cups and bin bags for punch parties and for the boats
    • - Our lead crews organising regular beach clean-ups and our guests love joining in!
    Find out more

    Protecting Ecuadorian Cloudforest with the World Land Trust and EcoMinga

    Naturetrek has been encouraging customers to offset their carbon emissions from flights since 2000, and since 2007 we have been making contributions at our own expense. The World Land Trust and its Ecuadorian partner, Fundacion EcoMinga, use these funds to purchase and protect critically endangered cloudforest in the Ecuadorian Andes. Over the years we have slowly but surely built up our own ‘Naturetrek reserve’, creating an invaluable forest corridor linking the Sangay and Llanganates National Parks. In 2018 our protected area was already 1,389 acres (twice the size of the City of London!).

    In 2019, we want to deepen this partnership by pledging to donate £15 for every long-haul flight and £5 for every short-haul flight booked by our customers to the World Land Trust. Over the year we aim to generate £40,000, which will enable us to protect a further 200 acres of cloudforest.

    We will also further promote our project to customers this year through our website, e-marketing and brochure. We will encourage our customers to match our donations when they book, in order to increase our funds even further. In 2018 our clients donated £402 to the WLT; we aim to increase this figure to £4,000 in 2019.

    By matching our donations our customers will be helping us to grow our ‘Naturetrek Reserve’, both locking up carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and preventing the National Parks from becoming isolated cloudforest islands, thereby protecting this valuable, extremely biodiverse habitat and its endangered wildlife.

      Find out more

      Our AITO Project Protect pledge 2019

      Selling Buff scarves with The Mountain Company branding to raise money for charitable causes

      In 2018 The Mountain Company worked directly with Buff to create a Prayer Flag inspired scarf designed and had them blessed at a Buddhist religious ceremony called a Puja while in Nepal. The Buff scarves are a useful item of clothing for our trekking holidays in the Himalaya and are included on our kit lists.

      We are selling each Buff scarf for £20 or US$30. We are taking orders by email and posting out from our office in UK. We are also selling direct to our groups when they are arrive in Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan or India The Mountain Company will pay for the cost of the Buff scarf as well as postage & packing therefore 100% of the sale proceeds will go into our charitable fund.

      Customers who buy one of our Buffs can take part in our buff campaign by posting a photo while wearing the Buff under #myTMCbuff. Look at hashtag #myTMCbuff on Instagram or Facebook to see them in action already.

      By buying a Buff scarf from us our customers are not only purchasing a quality piece of trekking clothing that they can enjoy for years but also directly helping the guides and locals that assist them on their treks.

      • In 2019 our target is to sell 200 Buff scarves at £20 to raise £4,000 for our charitable fund. The money in this fund will be used as a hardship fund for our guides and also to support charitable projects in our destination countries.
      Find out more

      Supporting Social Enterprise in Asia One Meal At A Time (2018)

      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 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 $4000 in revenue for them. This is the equivalent to the cost of providing education and training support for two 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 a way that enriches their own travel experience.

      • We have achieved our pledge to make 200 bookings at 6 social enterprise restaurants in Asia. Our aim was to generate revenue for local businesses having a positive impact, in a way that enhanced our clients' experience of a destination.
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      Minimising Single Use Plastic Bottles

      Dragoman wants to minimise our environmental impact in the countries we visit as far as possible. We began working with Water to Go bottles in 2018 whereby we offer our customers the opportunity to purchase Water To Go bottles at a 25% discount prior to trip.

      • To reduce plastic pollution.
      • Reduce the use of single use plastic bottles
      • Encourage the use of Water to Go bottles
      • Enable the use of water from fountains, lakes and streams
      Find out more

      Expert Africa 2018 Testimonial

      For our 2017 pledge we had hoped to partner with, or set up, a grassroots project in Africa. However, as the majority of the suppliers we work with already carry out an impressive breadth of worthwhile sustainability projects, we found it challenging to pick out just one to support or to help visualise a new venture.

      As such, for our 2018 pledge, we aim to get a better understanding of the sustainable practices and initiatives that our suppliers have in place. Not only can we then show our support by showcasing the best examples, but we have found that our travellers are increasingly more concerned with responsible travel and are looking to book with suppliers leading the field in this respect.

      Working in collaboration with Professor Xavier Font and undergraduates from the University of Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, we are researching the sustainability practices of over 1000 camps and lodges that we feature, across a dozen countries in Africa. Around 180 students are helping to contact suppliers and collate information, with the aim to produce a concise case study on an initial 200 properties and their sustainability initiatives over the course of the next year.

      We will then add a sustainability section to each of the lodge write-ups on our website. This will highlight the valuable work each lodge is committed to, helping our travellers make more informed decision, as well as encouraging an increased focus on sustainable tourism. We are excited to be supporting these students in their tourism and hospitality management degrees and hope that the opportunity to work with real-world examples will be a valuable addition to the knowledge gained throughout their course.

      • Expert Africa collaborated with students from the University of Surrey to research & showcase key sustainability aspects of a selection of the camps & lodges on offer, in order to better promote responsible tourism initiatives to travellers
      Find out more