Sustainable travel & defining our accountability
Since our inception in 2006, travelling 'the right way' has been one of our core values. This hasn’t changed – but the definition of 'the right way' has evolved as the travel industry has become more educated, and humanity more self aware. As global warming turned into a climate emergency, and now a climate crisis, we’ve all become focused on what economic, social and environmental responsibility really means.
As a company and a group of individuals, we recognise – with the benefit of hindsight, older minds and a sharpened awareness – that we could and should have done better.
Having acknowledged this, we'd rather do something about it than waste time kicking ourselves, so we continue to stick to our 'kaizen' philosophy of continuous change and improvement.
We believe that every single one of us has a responsibility to reduce our impact on the climate and our habitat, and to do everything we can to reverse the damage already done. We’ve long taken a realistic approach to carbon compensation*, and our approach to travel often leads us naturally to a lower impact style – for instance by reducing our contribution to over-tourism through our natural affinity to steer away from the obvious; actively promoting hotels with a lower carbon footprint through our love of boutique and small, personal properties; and by cutting food waste by always recommending local eateries. But we're now also deliberately focusing on all the places we can actively improve our operations in the most sustainable way.
We refuse to green-wash the problem and our part in it. We wish to be held fully accountable for our actions, which is why we choose to be transparent in our actions. There’s no getting around the fact that you will (unless you love very long train journeys) be flying to Asia, but far more can be done to ensure that everything you do once you’re there has a positive impact.
Founder and Managing Director
In order to master a challenge in a measurable way, we break it down into categorisable parts. This is why you'll see a number of diverse sustainability initiatives across our operations. These are our current objectives:
- Focus on how best to compensate for the impact of flights.*
- Audit and minimise our operational carbon footprint across all transport.
- Reduce and remove single-use plastics from our operations, for instance with our One Bottle at a Time initiative.
- Work with responsible lodges and projects focused on protecting and supporting endangered species or threatened landscapes.
Social & Economic
- Directly sponsor and support through patronage local projects that offer free education & training to the children that need it most.
- Expand and explore responsibly. Whilst we are always on the front foot when it comes to discovering new places of interest, we take a considerate and careful approach to assessing any new areas suitability not just to the income it may make today, but in 3 or 5 years time.
- Work with responsible community initiatives that provide employment, promote and retain cultural values, and help to create new tourist interests away from the more heavily visited highlights.
There is a climate crisis and, as Tourism Declares outlines, 'we believe we have a responsibility, to tell the truth, act now and work together to help turn it around.' Read our declaration here
Below are just a few examples of the 'better-world-first' projects we are proud to support and work with:
- We have enjoyed a long and rewarding relationship with Lone Buffalo, which offers free education & training in rural Laos, thanks to the incredible application of everyone involved at the school.
- The Tiger Tops organisation in Nepal, which has offered responsible high-end wildlife-spotting opportunities for decades
- Cambodia’s Shinta Mani Foundation, which funds programs designed to alleviate poverty in Cambodia
- Thailand’s Elephant Hills project, a sanctuary that protects elephants in a considerate manner whilst providing interesting accommodation for visitors
- The Elephant Conservation Centre, a social enterprise focused on conserving elephants across Laos
- Working with student guides in Japan, giving you behind-the-scenes access to daily life whilst steering clear of busier sites
- Indonesia's Biorock collective with their community-based reef restoration projects
- Working with Myanmar's CIT (Community Involved Tourism) group, whose aim is to develop and promote villages in various ethnic minority regions of the country through a range of authentic local trekking and village experiences.
- India’s Pink City Rickshaw Company, whose cohort of women drivers hold equity in their fleet of eco-friendly rickshaws
- Sri Lanka’s Mahoora safari camps, with their pioneering approach to sustainability and community support
- The Wa Ale Resort in Myanmar, whose genuinely responsible policies are raising the bar for hotels across Asia
* In 2016 we stopped subscribing to the 'offset your flights and make everything alright' model. We listened to the evidence being put forward by the thought leaders applying themselves to problem and quickly realised that we had it wrong. Since then we have accepted a voluntary donation in partnership with the World Land Trust, allowing clients to contribute to reduce the carbon impact of their flights through actively conserving rainforest while also supporting local communities. At the time of writing, this is an area of our operation that we are reevaluating again with a plan to release new operational guidelines in 2020.
Our approach to responsible travel
Working with wildlife
How to travel responsibly