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.

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

    Selling Buff scarves to raise money for our charitable/ guides hardship fund (2019)

    In 2019 we sold 124 Buff scarves with The Mountain Company branding to raise £2,480 for our social/ guides hardship fund. Out of this we donated £500 to Supporting Nepal’s Children and we kept rest of money for future use to help our guides in need.

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    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

    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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    Rethink your drink

    Following a year of selling Water-to-Go filter bottles to passengers with the aim of reducing plastic waste in our destinations JLA has now decided to take this idea further. We now want to focus on a more local scale with this pledge and to finally achieve our 2017 target of selling 500 bottles.

    In 2018, we will establish partnerships with two Destination Management Companies (DMC’s) to help reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles given to our clients during transfers and excursions. Firstly, we will assess how many single-use plastic bottles are used before analysing possible solutions (e.g. refillable water stations in their offices and at different stops on route) and then working with the DMC’s to implement the solutions. We currently offer approximately 60 excursions and 140 transfers through these DMCs which could amount to saving hundreds of single-use plastic bottles. We believe that this will also lead to conversations with DMC’s regarding other single use plastic on excursions such as plastic straws, bags and polystyrene boxes.

    In addition to this we will continue with the promotion of our branded Water-To-Go bottles. We will now offer them to Bespoke Clients (70% of our customer base), with the aim to sell 350 bottles by March 2019). Furthermore we will develop our Sustainable Travel webpages to provide clients with information on the hotels we work with that have excellent environmental and social policies and with simple guidelines on the actions clients can take to travel responsibly while on holiday.

    • - Work with DMCs to limit their use of single-use plastic in Latin America
    • - Continue to sell our Water-To-Go bottles to our clients
    • - Update our sustainability pages to include hotels that support eco-friendly practices
    Find out more

    Leading the fight against waste in Greece

    Greece is in the blood of the team at Sunvil and GIC The Villa Collection. We have travelled the country, far and wide, since 1969 and are passionate about the culture, history, gastronomy, nature and - above all - the warm and generous people. We care about the islands and the islanders, and we want to preserve their natural and cultural attractions for generations to come.

    Over recent years islanders have faced an increasing problem with waste management, exacerbated by a lack of recycling facilities, poor sorting facilities and the closure of landfill sites.

    Sunvil and GIC have always strived to mitigate the impacts of our holidays and have used our influence with local businesses and governments to affect change. In 2018 we vow to take our commitment to waste reduction in Greece.

    For the 2018 season we have will introduced a waste separation and crushing facility at the Kalami Bay on Corfu, a property exclusive to Sunvil, with the aim to introduce the facility to further 5 units throughout the year. The waste collected will be measured and then transported to the correct facilities and recycled. We will use our figures to educate those in authority and to introduce further facilities for our guests, residents and local businesses. On top of this we will provide reusable bags within a number of our resorts and traveller tips for reducing waste.

    • Join with Sunvil and GIC this year to make a notable difference to those who live and work on our favourite holiday isles.
    Find out more