It’s been said before, but for us responsible travel really is more than just a marketing catchphrase; to travel to remote and unusual destinations carries with it a responsibility that should not be ignored. We can’t claim to be ‘pioneers’ of responsible travel, but we can promise you that it is something we take very seriously; it guides our philosophy and shapes our itineraries as well as the experiences we create for our groups.
- We understand that we are working with some of the least developed and poorest nations in the world. Although our operation is small and focused we are passionate about creating real and sustainable economic benefits.
- We take our role incredibly seriously and are determined to put as much as possible back into the communities we are privileged to visit. We have gone to great lengths to personally research our group tours and to meet with our locally owned and operated suppliers. We have built up strong relationships with these operators who we prefer to call ‘colleagues’. We believe that our continued success is dependent on this close relationship.
- Our philosophy is to only use small and locally owned suppliers, meaning that the income remains within the country and creates a real economic contribution. We also feel that the passion inherent within such suppliers means that your experience will be enhanced. We try to engage with our suppliers on an equal basis – getting the lowest possible price usually isn’t the best outcome for local communities and is ultimately unsustainable. We aim to always treat our suppliers fairly and with respect; they are after all part of the key to our success and to us working together is much more than just a business arrangement, but an ongoing relationship that we aim to ensure truly benefits everyone involved.
- Our travellers are usually only accompanied by locally based staff and guides. Unlike some ther small group tour operators, we do not send UK or other non-local staff to escort our clients unless absolutely unavoidable. This ensures that your tourist spend goes directly in to the local economy.
- We actively support and advise our overseas colleagues on a range of issues, which are intended to benefit their overall business, not just the business they do with Undiscovered Destinations. We have advised on brochure and website design, and have contributed financially to their overseas marketing campaigns.
- Our overseas operators are encouraged to join us in the UK at travel shows to jointly promote their destination. We will consider payment of their airfare and accommodation costs to make this possible.
- Undiscovered Destinations, together with our overseas colleagues can often be described as the pioneers in tourism. We therefore believe that this represents a unique and exciting opportunity to formulate a clear Environment Policy at an early stage of the country’s tourism development. We are determined to set the standard and to do this we constantly review our operations both locally and in the UK.
- We are working closely with our locally owned suppliers to inform and educate their staff about a range of issues, including litter and waste disposal.
- Litter is a huge problem in many countries where there is limited or no infrastructure for waste disposal, let alone recycling facilities. The first step is to ensure that on our group tours, we minimise the use of resources in the first place, in order to generate less waste.
- Wherever possible we use environmentally friendly local accommodation. If this is not possible we make every effort to alert the management of the accommodation in question to ways of improving their service with the environment in mind.
- Many of the hotels and lodges we use are in extremely remote areas and are therefore almost entirely self-sufficient, using local sources of food, labour and construction materials.
- We only work with small group sizes, averaging just 6 clients. Our small group sizes have a very low impact on the environment.
- Some of our trips include camping. We go to great lengths to travel without leaving any trace of our visit.
- We encourage clients to make full use of our website, including the facility to download a brochure and tour dossier for viewing, rather than sending printed copies in the mail.
- We are avid users of public transport and the company and its Managing Director do not own any motor vehicles. We use our local metro system to commute to the office and the national rail network to travel to meetings and appointments within the UK. We avoid taking domestic flights for travel within the UK.
- All clients are provided with a Travellers’ Code of Conduct which includes suggestions for how to reduce water consumption.
- Our Travellers’ Code of Conduct includes suggestions to minimise damage to the environment, wildlife and marine ecosystems.
- Throughout our programme we have included a growing number of visits to appropriate local projects with direct or indirect environmental benefits.
- Our very small group size and limited departures means that our impact – both cultural and environmental – on the destinations that we visit is small and truly sustainable. By not bringing groups to our destinations on a regular basis, we hope not to have an adverse effect on the sometimes vulnerable ethnic groups that live there.
- We are working hard to promote destinations that so far do not appear on the tourist map. We are investing in the future, in the belief that along with our local colleagues we can create sustainable social benefits for corners of the world, that to-date have been overlooked by larger tour operators.
- We will not provide travel plans for individuals who are not prepared to travel in a courteous and responsible manner.
- We ensure our guides and clients are sensitive to local attitudes and act responsibly in their interaction with local people.
- Clients and guides are briefed on local customs and general courtesy (such as asking permission before taking photographs/dress-codes/conduct in places of worship etc) and behave appropriately.