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.

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.
    Find out more

    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


    The human race manufactures over 300 million tonnes of plastic each year. Half of that plastic is used just ONCE. In the more remote parts of the world which Mountain Kingdoms visits, we see the dire effects of this: recycling facilities are in their infancy and poor waste management has resulted in severe plastic pollution.

    From 2019, Mountain Kingdoms will offer clients who are not given a free kit bag (required for certain treks) the choice of receiving either a free filtered water bottle or a free Mountain Kingdoms fleece. This will enable Mountain Kingdoms and its clients to help to reduce plastic waste, thus reducing the amount going into our oceans and helping to keep all the countries we visit beautiful for generations to come.

    The NHS recommends drinking at least two litres of water a day, which means clients could be buying 56 single use 500cl bottles on a typical two week trip. Here at Mountain Kingdoms we have teamed up with Water-to-Go which has developed a multi-use drinking bottle with a filtration system that eliminates over 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants from any non-salt water source. In 2019 we estimate we will be giving away 300 water bottles to our clients, which means we could stop around 16,800 single-use plastic bottles being used!

    If you book on one of our trips, we will be offering clients, who are not given a free Mountain Kingdoms kit bag (these are required for certain treks), a free water bottle and a further 15% discount on extra bottles and new filters. Find out more information at:

    • The human race manufactures over 300 million tonnes of plastic each year.
    • Free filtered water bottle for each applicable client
    • In 2019 we estimate we could help save 16,800 single-use plastic bottle
    Find out more

    Helping children in the UK and Croatia

    At Prestige Holidays we have always felt it appropriate to have a social conscience and to share our success with others. Continuing in this tradition, we have decided to help two charities in 2019 who work to help children in different difficult circumstances.

    The first of these is a small local charity called Amelia’s Rainbow. They help families with seriously ill children and have very limited funds. Prestige is delighted to be able to help them with their cause by collecting a considerable number of brand new toys for them to distribute to those in their care.

    More importantly we celebrate our 30th anniversary party in London on 28 March next year and will seek to raise substantial funds for Amelia’s Rainbow. If you wish to help us donate to this worthy cause you can do so directly at

    In addition, we also want to look further afield and help children in one of our key destinations, Croatia. We pledge to make an annual contribution of €1,000 to the Pegaz Centre, a small charity in Croatia providing equine assisting therapy for children with disabilities or disadvantages to provide recreation, therapy and sport. The Centre will use the money raised to buy additional equipment so that they can continue providing the children they support with important experiences.

    • We hope that by working with these two organisations we are helping to bring happiness and hope into the lives of children who are in need in the UK and in Croatia.
    Find out more

    CICERONI Travel and Villa Farnesina in Rome: a partnership of goodwill and gratitude

    CICERONI Travel has visited Rome more than any other destination and has shared its extraordinary cultural heritage with our guests over many years. Its visual arts and architecture continue to inspire all that we do, wherever we are in the world.

    The Villa Farnesina in the heart of Rome on the Tiber River is a beacon to that end. Built at the beginning of the sixteenth century, it is one of the most elegant statements of the entire Italian Renaissance. Many hands were involved in creating the Villa, including Raphael. Today it is a museum owned by the distinguished Lincean Academy of Rome

    In 2019 CICERONI Travel has teamed up with LoveItaly, a Rome-based non-profit organization, dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of Italy’s unique cultural heritage. Our project is to contribute to the cleaning and restoration of the 'Loggia of the Galatea', one of the rooms within the villa and partly frescoed by Raphael.

    Via direct support from CICERONI Travel and from our individual guests, we aim to raise about £3000 annually. We will also involve our guests in the project with the aim of securing additional contributions.

    It is a small step in ensuring this extraordinary building can be enjoyed by Romans and visitors alike for decades to come. It is for each one of us at Ciceroni a statement of thanks for all the pleasurable visits we have enjoyed to Villa Farnesina and to Rome.

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