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.

Picking up rubbish from the trails of the Himalaya (2018)

In 2018 the Mountain Company’s groups removed 320kg (average 1.6kg per person) of rubbish from the Himalaya. We have also incorporated rubbish collection and disposal into our standard operating procedures for our destinations of Nepal and Bhutan.

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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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AITO Protect Pledge

Undiscovered Destinations is supporting Fonkoze, Haiti’s leading microfinance institution, to help empower Haitians—primarily women—to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. We aim to raise $1,500 during 2018 that will directly support their ‘Staircase Out of Poverty’ initiative, a comprehensive, four step approach uniquely designed to provide women with the resources and support needed to ascend from poverty. More information on the four steps is all available at

Undiscovered Destinations decided on this pledge because it aligns with our business values and Haiti is a country we have very close links with. By helping us to make this donation, our customers will be able to assist people like Saincia on their journey out of poverty. Read about Saincia climb up the staircase here

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    Tackling plastic bottles – one sip at a time

    Travelling in more remote and unspoilt places often means not being able to drink the local water, so travellers often rely on bottled water. While this can be inexpensive and readily available, many destinations don’t have recycling programmes and as such are left with vast amounts of plastic waste that is either sent to landfill or strewn about the countryside.

    This is an issue that concerns RWH’s clients and staff because who wants to see a natural beauty spot blighted by litter? So, to help matters we have teamed up with a UK based company called Water to Go to promote the use of a re-usable filtered water bottle that allows travellers to safely drink from local sources without creating more plastic waste. In 2017/18 we aim to sell 1000 reusable bottles at a discounted price. By using one of these filtered bottles on a week holiday, one person alone could save between 14-21 plastic bottles. With every 100 reusable bottles sold, that’s between 1400-2100 bottles!

    We will highlight the benefits of these reusable bottles to our clients by providing information at the Adventure Show, Destinations, 50+ travel shows, in over 55 000 brochure mailings and on our website. Water to Go will make a donation to our own staff led charity, Heart & Sole, for each bottle sold. We will then use these funds to support projects around the world, such as a school breakfast club in St Lucia and providing needed items to an orphanage in Costa Rica.

    • In 2017 and 18 RHW sold around 1300 filter water bottles providing safe drinking water for travellers without adding to the plastic mountain and in doing so raised £2000 for a variety of social projects around the world.
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    Creating a “Wilderness Future Fund”

    We love Scotland’s wild places and so do our customers. At Wilderness Scotland we understand the powerful sense of exhilaration and awe that these places can evoke. We also recognise the environmental sensitivity of these places and strive to do everything we can to preserve them for future generations.
    In 2017, we plan to build on the success of our past Customer Contribution Scheme and create a “Wilderness Future Fund”. This will be an annual fund created by increasing the voluntary contribution from £5 to £10 per person.
    Rather than simply donating the money to a conservation charity and letting them choose how the money is spent Wilderness Scotland want to direct the fund towards specific local environmental and community projects, ensuring that we are closely involved in how, and where, the money is spent.
    We pledge to support two projects each year, one environmental and one social. We predict that £6,000 of donations will be available in the first year with increases predicted in following years. Every customer who contributes to the fund in 2017 will therefore be directly helping us to fulfil this pledge.
    We plan to support different projects each year and to grow our fund so that over time we can help a variety of projects. Together with our customers, we will be investing in the future of Scotland’s wild places and helping to ensure that future generations can also experience these incredible wild lands.

    • Protecting Scotland's wilderness for future generations.
    • Increasing our voluntary contribution to £10 per person.
    • Creating a fund that can be directed to specific projects.
    • Taking control over how funds are allocated.
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    Protecting Europe’s Butterflies

    Amongst the 450+ wildlife holidays that we operate around the world each year, around 20 focus on butterflies. Here in the UK and across the globe the habitats that these endearing insects need are becoming increasingly fragile with constant pressures from the ever-developing world we live in. We want to do our utmost to help protect and manage these habitats which will not only benefit butterflies but the ecosystem as a whole.

    In 2017 Naturetrek will invest 10% of all income generated from our butterfly-focused holidays to the charity Butterfly Conservation. This aim in year one is to protect and effectively manage an area of the Chilterns specifically to allow the threatened Duke of Burgundy butterfly to expand its range. This work will greatly reduce the risk of further local extinctions hence ensuring this beautiful butterfly can thrive in this area. We will be funding different projects each year focusing on protecting and correctly managing habitats for different butterfly species, whilst ensuring that under Butterfly Conservation’s expert stewardship a great range of other species will also benefit. Each participant on our butterfly holidays will also receive a year’s membership to the charity, giving them the opportunity for further learning and inspiration on the conservation of butterflies. With this commitment, our Naturetrek customers will be helping to ensure that vital butterfly habitats are protected across the UK and Europe for the enjoyment of all.

    • We are supporting Butterfly Conservation via dedicated butterfly-focused tours.
    • 10% of tour income will be donated to the charity each year.
    • Projects in 2017 include management of The Chilterns for conservation of the Duke of Burgundy.
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    Funding places for four young people on conservation summer camps

    Martin Randall Travel is proud to support Action for Conservation. AFC is a UK charity which aims to inspire young people, aged 12–18 and predominantly from deprived areas, to become the next generation of nature conservationists through workshops in UK secondary schools and conservation-focused summer camps. We have chosen to become involved with AFC because we understand the importance of protecting our destinations – so that travellers today and into the future can continue to enjoy them – and that education is a big part of that.

    The camps provide an environment in which to focus on conservation issues and solutions, as well as developing social and leadership skills. The ultimate aim is to empower young people to become ‘Ambassadors for Change’, and that they will go on to actively engage with environmental issues and to educate others.

    In 2018, Martin Randall Travel aims to work with its clients to raise £3,000 for AFC, which will be enough to send four young people on a camp. We will encourage our clients to donate by offering to match their donations up to our target of £3,000, and by informing them about the difference their donation will make. So as to provide a firm commitment for AFC, we will guarantee at least £1,500. We aim to reach our target by April 2018, so that we can fund spaces on camps in summer 2018.

    In addition, we are planning one-off fundraising events such as carol singing at our local tube station, and we will post photographs and videos of these activities on social media and our website so that our clients can follow our progress .

    The testimonials and statistics that AFC have shown us regarding the impact of their camps are incredibly impressive and show that these camps can really be life-changing experiences for these young people. As we continue our involvement with the charity, we hope to be able to demonstrate the impact that donations from us and our customers have made.

    • Action for Conservation is a UK-based charity, which runs conservation summer camps and workshops for young people.
    • Martin Randall Travel is aiming to fund four summer camp places in 2018.
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    2017 Pledge - Expert Africa’s travellers helping the Big 5.

    Seeing the ‘Big 5’ is one of the main reasons our travellers want to go to Africa. Rhinos are one of the most iconic species of the 5 but some species are critically endangered.

    Expert Africa wants to play its part in conserving this incredible animal by working with Save the Rhino. We also aim to bring benefits to those living alongside these magnificent animals.
    In 2017, we will begin a partnership with Little Indaba, a women’s group in Lusaka, Zambia that produces and sells organic cotton animal toys. A selection of these are sold via Save the Rhino and a percentage of the sales support rhino conservation locally and globally.
    Expert Africa pledges £5,000 to help financially support Little Indaba. We will also contribute our time, in terms of business expertise and marketing support. We aim to help grow the group’s business sustainably, enabling them to reach more local women. Ultimately, this will raise more funds for the women themselves and more investments for Save the Rhino’s vital conservation work.

    We also pledge to make a financial contribution of around £15,000 throughout 2018 to community-based projects linked with different aspects of conservation in Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania, which are some of the countries most visited by our travellers.

    We will actively promote these projects to our travellers, online and via social media. Increasing our own knowledge of conservation efforts in our key destinations will enable us to provide a better service, and also play a part in safeguarding the preservation of these wonderful species.

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      Supporting the Education for All programme with ChemU in Uganda

      We work with the Kate Farrer Foundation to support their partnership with ChemU in Uganda - an education for all programme which is very close to our hearts. As well as ad hoc help, we sponsor five young people to complete their secondary education as part of this programme. Promise is one of these young people - here she is with her father, receiving an award for her excellent performance in primary school. With our help she started secondary school in 2017.

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        Bushbaby as a Family-Friendly Employer

        Bushbaby is all about family values. We might be small but our family-friendly work practices are streets ahead of many larger companies and we offer the kind of flexibility that most parents dream of. Our friendly, supportive team enjoy working from a rural office.

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