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.

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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        Supporting the Provision of Personal Care Kits to 100 Girls at Twabuka Community School, Zambia

        As a family specialist tour operator, Bushbaby loves creating experiences that inspire lifelong memories. Our values of love, integrity, family and enrichment put responsible tourism at the heart of what we do and a natural focus for us is access to education. We work with many lodges that are owned by or which support their local community, especially youth programmes. We are promoting Waterberry Lodge in Zambia and particularly value their community schooling focus. In 2017/18, in partnership with the lodge, we will be working on a menstrual health project which will directly benefit girls in Grade 5 and above at Twabuka Commmunity School. Lack of modern sanitary wear and cultural taboos around periods have led to girls missing school. By providing 100 girls with a kit, composing eco-friendly, reusable and washable sanitary pads as well as underwear and information on puberty and self-care, the aim is to improve school attendance amongst this demographic. Each kit will cost £20 to buy and last at least 2 years. Bushbaby will help produce literature to support the roll-out and will contribute a multi-pack of underwear for each kit. We plan to visit the project and encourage clients staying at the lodge to find out more, visit the school and ‘pack to protect’ as well as sharing updates through our newsletters and website.

        We love introducing new destinations to our clients and by choosing Bushbaby they in turn demonstrate support for our shared values, sustainable tourism and meaningful community engagement.

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          Teach the Children - Our AITO Project Protect Pledge

          In 2017/18 Just Grenada will harness the generosity of its customers to provide educational aid for children in the Caribbean. We have been doing this in an informal way for a number of years by asking clients to donate particular items suitable for use by underprivileged children through the "Pack for a Purpose" initiative.
          This year we want additionally to set up our own scheme to ensure that our clients' support is targeted in a more specific way and directed where it will be most effective.
          We will identify one educational establishment in a deprived area in Grenada and another in Bequia and we will ask each head teacher to prepare a costed "wish list" of essential supplies and educational aids that the particular school requires. We will then ask each person who books with us to make a donation towards this fund. Just Grenada will add at least £10 of our own to each donation to help boost the fund still further.
          We hope the scheme will produce between £3000-4000 each year.
          The total amount will then be divided between the establishments we have chosen according to a percentage proportion which will correlate with the turnover we achieve in each island.
          We will ask for confirmation of what has been purchased for the children including photos and feedback from the schools.
          We at Just Grenada will keep our clients informed of the progress by posting news and pictures of what is being achieved in each establishment on our website and social media and we will continue to support "Pack for a Purpose"

          • In Grenada we will support Samaritan Presbyterian School in St Mark's parish plus the Grenada Community Library in the capital St George's.
          • In Bequia we will also support the Sunshine School of Bequia.
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          KE Adventure are raising £5,000 in 2017 to help rebuild Nepal

          Nepal is one of KE Adventure Travel’s top destinations. Our customers love to travel there! It is also a place close to our hearts, so when it was hit by the devastating earthquake in April 2015 we wanted to do all we could to help this remarkable country get back on its feet. We asked our clients for donations and had an amazing response, raising £165,000 with which we built 10 new schools through The Juniper Trust.
          Now just over 2 years later Nepal is no longer in the headlines but it is still in need of our help. Our pledge for 2017 is therefore to raise at least £5,000 to put towards school maintenance and the continuous requests for educational items so that we can continue to help provide the young children with the best schooling possible. By helping to teach them we are contributing towards a better future for Nepal and its subsequent generations.
          We hope to achieve this by doing the following:

          • empowering our customers with the option to forgo their free gift and to choose a donation to the Juniper Trust.
          • involving our clients in this objective, so that the value of their holiday experience has been increased.
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          Improving employment opportunities for women with Explore Leader training (2017)

          Here at Explore we know that our leaders have a huge impact on our customers’ experiences and really help to make their trips memorable. We currently have a lot more male leaders than we do female. We asked our local agents and female leaders in Burma and Vietnam what obstacles they face in becoming a leader or employing female leaders.
          Explore want to break the stereotype that women cannot become tour leaders, we want to challenge the status quo by empowering and encouraging women in tour leader roles. Our goal by the end of 2017 is to have at least 9 females attend Explore training altogether in India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, to help improve awareness and equality. We will do this by building on our strong relationships with our local agents and engaging with local stakeholders.
          Last year Explore trained 282 new leaders and of those only 88 were female. We want women to know that they have equal rights in the tourism industry and especially within Explore; they will have the same pay, the same training and the same support which male leaders receive.
          An increase in female trainees will change the way women are perceived by our male leader trainees. This in turn will influence local guides and drivers to show more equality. Our customers will be able to witness and benefit from this positive shift when they travel with us on these tours in the future. They will be proud to travel with tour operator who is helping to promote equal opportunity.

          • Last year Explore trained 282 new leaders and of those only 88 were female.
          • Our goal by the end of 2017 is to have at least 9 females attend Explore training altogether in India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
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          Keep Hydrated

          “Keep Hydrated”. This is the key piece of advice our Tour Leaders and guides from Journey Latin America provide to our customers. Whether it is in the humid tropics of Central America, the windswept plains of Patagonia or the high altitude plains of the Andes having a filled water bottle close to hand is a simple and effective way to keeping healthy and alert while on tour. The knock on affect of this is that numerous bottles of mineral water are bought and consumed daily considering the water from the tap is not drinkable. This in turn leads to huge amounts of plastic waste which, as widely reported, has reached critical levels for the environment.
          Journey Latin America want to combat this by offering our group tour passengers the opportunity to purchase a Water Bottle with an extremely effective water filtration system at a 50% discount. We will monitor the impact by asking our tour leaders to note how many bottles of water would otherwise have been used. We envisage that every customer taking one of these bottles with them on tour will mean on average 10 less bottles bought and discarded per person per trip. We hope to reach at least 80% of our group tour passengers (approximately 600 clients) in the first year of the pledge and then expand the initiative to include our passengers on Tailor Made trips, of which we book over 2,000 a year. We feel this is an effective and tangible way of reducing the plastic waste in the continent we care so deeply about while also including our customers in the fight against the polluting of these incredible destinations.

          • - We want to help reduce plastic waste from discarded water bottles in all of our destinations
          • - The program involves everyone from our clients, tour leaders and office staff with the aim to also include our suppliers.
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          Picking up rubbish from the trails of the Himalaya (2017)

          The Mountain Company would like to thank our guides and trekkers for enthusiastically embracing our AITO Project Protect pledge to help make the environment in the Himalaya and Karakoram cleaner. Our initial pledge was to remove 220kg of rubbish, and this was exceeded with a total of over 350kg removed from trekking routes in Nepal, Bhutan, India and Pakistan.

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          Encouraging greater communication of sustainability projects on the Davos Klosters website

          The community of Klosters takes great pride in its local environment and does a huge amount to protect its mountains, forests, glaciers and wildlife as well as its farming heritage and local traditions. However, they could certainly improve the way they communicate what they are doing to various stakeholders such as tourists, local businesses and other interested parties. We believe that many visitors to Klosters would be genuinely interested to know the action that is being taken to preserve the charm and character of this lovely ski resort. Indeed, by making this information more readily available they will foster greater engagement with their stakeholders which could lead to further funding and support for their initiatives.

          PT Ski will work closely with Klosters to encourage them to promote their sustainability activities more widely. We aim to inspire them to dedicate a section of the Davos Klosters website detailing their successes in taking care of the local environment and outlining their plans for the future by the end of 2018. Once online we will link this section of their website to our own and would be delighted to share future successes on our own social media platforms and newsletters. In future, we also aim to pick one or two of the initiatives that are mentioned and to support them either financially or in other ways because we love the village of Klosters and want to help in any way we can to preserve and support this wonderful place. We know that our guests will be delighted to know that by coming on holiday with us they are helping preserve the destination.

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