Activities Abroad is part of The Artisan Travel Company (our parent company). Right from the beginning all the way back in 2002 we have held strong beliefs and a keen focus on responsible tourism.
Our Responsible Tourism Policy is outlined below and puts on paper what we implement across our business. The policy is always under review and amended in line with best practice. Whilst we do our very best with the resources that we have, we always know that there is more to be done to make our operations both at home and overseas as responsible as possible.
This policy is always available to our guests and it is issued to all of our suppliers in order to ensure that the core principles are adhered to and upheld throughout our supply chain and that our clients are aware of our stance on certain practices etc.
Our policy is divided into three primary sections: social, economic and environmental responsibility.
It is important to outline here the general approach which The Artisan Travel Company takes to responsible tourism. It is based on the theory of the triple bottom line, a phrase coined by John Elkington a world leading authority on corporate responsibility.
In short the triple bottom line is where the profitability of the company and the positive economic impact of our holidays in a destination is as equally valued as the company's environmental and social performance. Where many tour operators may well simply quote Elkington as a tick box in a policy we endeavor to provide tangible evidence that we are putting this into action. Responsible tourism is at the core of what we do.
As an independently owned company we have the luxury of being able to determine our own priorities and our own bench marks for success and have the ability to ensure that this ethos is central to everything we do.
Firstly we ensure that wherever possible we use local guides, local transport providers and locally owned accommodation providers. This gives our clients a much more intimate relationship with the destination in which they are visiting, provides local people with employment and ensures that wherever possible the economic benefits of the tourists' visits are received in the local communities. We do not want this money to act as compensation to the communities for our clients' visits, but as payment for excellent services provided. We also hope that by helping to provide local employment we will also be helping to preserve remote communities where otherwise younger generations may tend to move towards larger urban areas for work.
Importantly we feel very strongly that the local guides in particular are better qualified than anyone to talk about the destinations in which they work and to operate within a region which they know like the back of their hands. These factors both enable them to take pride in the area they work as well as improving safety levels in many of the activities as the guides generally have years of experience rather than weeks. In some destinations you may encounter some expatriate Britons but they live and work within these regions and have invested heavily in the destination.
- We also ensure that throughout our operations anyone involved with The Artisan Travel Company:
- Has a safe and clean environment in which to work
- Is paid fairly for their work
- Is not given an unreasonable amount of work
- Is treated with respect and equality by all clients and members of staff
- Is not discriminated against for reasons of colour, race, gender, religion or disability
We want to ensure that our clients get the best possible experience and so it is vital for us to develop long term and successful partnerships with suppliers that are productive and fair for all parties involved.
We always utilise locally owned accommodation and activity providers wherever possible. We like to stay off the beaten track and provide a more unique experience for clients so this all goes hand in hand.
Wherever possible we try to avoid using large hotel chains as we want the money generated by tourism within a region to remain within the region rather than leaking overseas.
The areas in which we operate tend to be rural and so employment opportunities can be more limited than in larger towns. A local hotel can provide a vital source of employment in a town and help stem the flow of people from these communities to urban environments. In turn this helps to sustain the economies of small rural towns. We ensure that wherever possible our accommodation providers and activity guides source produce locally when meals are included and if not then we recommend local restaurants to clients. We want to utilise the tourism multiplier effect wherever possible in order to widen the economic benefit of our presence.
When it comes to souvenirs we will always try to inform clients of some of the locally produced handicrafts to look out for and try and encourage them to purchase goods from the region if they wish to take something home. We also ensure that we discourage the removal of natural souvenirs such as shells etc. Our clients are informed about souvenir trades that may be detrimental to the environment or that perhaps do not provide their workers with appropriate working conditions.
In some countries we feature; bargaining for goods is the local custom and we give guidelines to clients to help them negotiate prices which are both fair to them and the seller. We discourage any form of aggressive haggling.
By ensuring that the economic benefits (wherever possible) are felt by the people in the areas in which our holidays operate then we improve our relationships and show our commitment to a destination. This in turn enables us to improve the experiences in a destination as this mutual cooperation fosters excellent working relationships.
This is the section that most people will associate most strongly with responsible tourism and it is certainly the most high profile area.
Tourism and the environment must be managed and the relationship monitored. It is something which we take into account throughout the planning, the operation and the evaluation of a holiday.
Firstly we are a niche operator; we do not send hundreds of clients into one destination during a week. It is not the way in which we operate, nor will it ever be. Large groups are not conducive to successful and high quality holidays and during our small group holidays the group size is always made appropriate to the nature of the environment and the proximity of our guests to the local population. We do not want local people to feel they have been invaded!
We work in remote areas and in many places which can only be described as pristine wildernesses. The impact of unmanaged tourism in these areas can be wholly detrimental
Working with local people obviously provides us with a huge advantage in this respect. Our guides' pride in the regions is always tangible and they ensure that the 'leave no trace' ethos is continually expressed to clients and visibly implemented during the activities.
When we plan our holidays we do so with the environment in mind. We deliberately leave out certain activities if we feel that their impact on the environment is to its detriment. The group sizes which we offer are designed with our clients’ experience in mind as well as the likely impact on a natural area.
We assess a hotel's facilities with regards to the environment and have developed an audit to enable us to document the processes and facilities in places in each of our hotels with greater accuracy and in order to help provide our clients with further information.
Where possible we always include group transportation. Not only is this obviously more economical for clients but it reduces emissions. We also ask clients to consider the use of public transport such as trains and buses on their free days (when available).
When planning hotels we ensure that we familiarise ourselves with all means of arriving in a destination, whether by train, sea or by road. When flights are involved we encourage clients to offset the emissions caused – in fact we encourage this for all methods of transport.
We dedicate additional time and money to ensuring that the impacts of our holidays are positive and that the environments we operate in remain unspoiled by our presence.