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.

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
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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
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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
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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.
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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
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Continuing to increase awareness and opportunities for females in Explore leader training (2018)

We increased the number of females again in 2018, pledging to train 16 new female leaders in Asia. Frustratingly, we only managed to train 13, partly due to the personal circumstances of many women in these countries and training schedules changing in the office. This is, however, still double the number we trained in 2017 and if we were to look on a wider scale we have actually trained a total of 32 female leaders from 19 different countries around the world in 2018.

In 2017, Explore trained Isanka from Sri Lanka; the only female attending the Explore leader training in the country. We asked her about her experience as a female leader and it’s clear that Isanka feels that the training has affected her learning and behaviour positively. She is a person who likes to be different from others and admirably does not feel uncomfortable being the only female on the course. She has had positive reactions from the communities she visits during our trips and many say that it’s the first time they have seen a female guide. There are still barriers with local men, including drivers who can try to control women but Isanka takes this positively and sees it as a challenge to try and change their attitudes. Isanka’s advice to other women who would like to become a leader “Be positive. Take the challenge. Also maintain the values of a traditional Sri Lankan woman.”

We have achieved a lot in the last year. Everyone who works for or with Explore now knows that our pledge is an important part of our training. The feedback from the tour leaders themselves is also wonderful – it’s amazing to see these changes being made around the world. As more people begin to understand gender quality and the importance it has on tourism, we’re seeing more women are being recruited in the industry.

  • At Explore we will continue to improve employment opportunities for women through our Leader training.
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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.
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Pointless Paper

Distinctive World Travel is committed to the principle of Sustainable Tourism and as such are involved with several charities.

We are also participants in AITO project PROTECT where in 2018 we pledge to reduce the paperwork sent to our clients by 50%.

In order to achieve this we have reformed the pre-travel documentation we send to our clients so that it is not only more informative and visually pleasing but also more concise. As a high volume of our clients travel to rainforest areas it makes sense for Distinctive to help reduce the destruction of trees for paper.

Our previous documentation consisted of 12 pieces of A4 paper including but not limited to a cover letter, itinerary, ticket information and a phrase book. By the end of the year we will have reduced this to just over five pieces of A4 paper by taking out non-essential information and redesigning the documentation.

We have for example, recently installed a scrap paper drawer and we will make notepads and books from the scrap paper. In 2019 will continue our efforts by looking into using biodegradable plastic for our document wallets or products incorporating sustainable palm oil around the office.

By doing this, we will reduce our paper usage and thus our overall carbon footprint. Our customers will be able to book with Distinctive in the knowledge that we are an environmentally conscious tour operator that actively practices sustainability in the office.

  • -Cutting down our paper use by 50%
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