Selective Asia's Responsible Tourism Policy
As a leading tour operator in Asia, we know that it’s our responsibility to make the most of our positive influence and minimize our negative impact on the social and physical environments of the destinations we work with - not to mention in our own workplace and communities.
- Stay local. One of our core values is to collaborate with local, responsible companies and partners who share our focus, beliefs and passions. We work mainly with local guides, local operators and hotel partners, and will always offer independent, local accommodation options to clients. Our holidays are designed to enable our clients to immerse themselves in local places and experiences, and we make sure that, wherever possible, the income they bring to a destination goes directly back into the community. We have also developed a system that allows clients to donate any unused currency to local charities that are vetted and selected by our partners.
- Reinvest our own profits, earnings & raised funds. We support local charities and NGOs, which we have directly observed working in a positive way within our destinations, by making corporate and personal donations, and through regular fundraising initiatives such as sponsored sports (we have a couple of marathon runners in the office!).
- Protect children. We fully agree with the message of Childsafe.org – ‘children are not tourist attractions’. We avoid and discourage any behaviour that treats them otherwise, and support social enterprises with a proven commitment to children’s well-being and personal development.
- Absolutely against orphanage tourism. Visiting children centres, orphanages or schools is forbidden in Western countries, and research has shown that short-term visits can be harmful to a child’s development and emotional balance.
- Against 'voluntourism'. Volunteering as a way to see the world tends to benefit the volunteer more than the host community. If you are interested in donating your time, we can make recommendations on how to do this in a way beneficial to all involved.
- ...and against sex tourism. Obviously. If only there were no need to state this.
- Respect humanity at large. All clients are given access to guidelines on local etiquette, language, and other social tips to think about whilst travelling in Asia. We offer added support for LGBT clients, whether that means making sure that honeymooners get the honeymoon suite, or advising on travel in areas where being gay is illegal or not socially acceptable.
- Really wildlife-focused. We only work with wildlife projects and elephant sanctuaries that genuinely have animal welfare at the core of their operation, and we have created an approved list of elephant projects that we recommend to clients. We support wildlife charities dedicated to the preservation of wildlife in the destinations we operate in. We do not sell visits to tiger sanctuaries and only work with accredited wildlife conservation projects.
- Minimise plastic usage. We launched our One Bottle at a Time initiative to replace disposable plastic water bottles with refillable canisters across our destinations. We also send our guests a wooden toothbrush to help avoid using hotels’ disposable plastic brushes and educate clients about the limited recycling facilities in Asia and best-practice regarding waste-reduction. Within our UK offices we operate strict recycling policies and make sure everyone in the office uses reusable crockery and cutlery.
- Educate. It’s at the heart of our approach prior to a client’s departure. Within our website, apps and documentation, our clients can find information and ideas to let them travel in a responsible and low-impact manner.
- Local Partners. We insist that any travel partners we work with also adhere to our responsible travel policy. Our local partners put responsible tourism at the heart of everything they do. We work collaboratively with them to ensure an ongoing exchange of information, so we can all continue to improve our work around responsible tourism.
- Social enterprises. There are a number of inspiring social enterprises across Asia that we’re able to include visits to in our itineraries. Some of the most interesting eateries we include in our trips are vocational training restaurants, which offer training to locals from disadvantaged backgrounds and arm them with skills for work in the hospitality industry.
- Put our money where our mouths are. We have developed systems that allow us and our clients to donate any unused local currency to local charities. Each client receives an envelope in which they can leave any unused or wanted local notes or coins with their guide to be donated to a local charity. We fund a class at the Lone Buffalo Foundation in Laos and make an annual donation to MAG (Mines Advisory Group), in addition to other local charities and NGOs which have a directly positive impact within the communities we operate in.
- Go beyond carbon offsetting. We don't think the standard carbon offset programmes do enough, so we've collaborated with the World Land Trust to develop our own improved version, for our own trips as well as our clients. Read more...
- Behave at home as we do abroad. Within our office and workplaces, we work to continually improve our environmental processes. We are committed to office recycling and reduction of electricity usage in the office.
- Never rest on our laurels. While RT has been a core part of our company values since day one, and we believe we have made great strides in the work we do in this area, we also know this is a huge topic to address, and one we can always improve in. We are all too aware of the term ‘green-washing’, where companies create policies that simply pay lip service instead of making an actual positive impact, and we take great pains not to fall into this category. We believe there will always be further work to do, and we want to be genuine and credible in this work, which will be vital to the longevity of the regions, and everyone’s enjoyment of the travel we love.
Our approach to responsible travel
Accountability & points of action
Working with wildlife
How to travel responsibly
We believe in making travel a force for good, and do everything possible to make sure your holidays in Asia benefit the people and animals who call it home. We work closely with ethical community enterprises and NGOs in the region, that ensure the benefit from your travel goes to the right places, and our initiative One Bottle at a Time has helped reduce 90,000 in 2019 alone.