Responsible Travel Policy

Responsible Travel Mission Statement
Our aim is to promote natural resource sustainability, economic viability and cultural integrity through sustainable tourism development. We enable people who travel with us to experience remote areas, to view pristine natural beauty and to learn from the cultures of the Himalayas without depleting natural resources or degrading cultural identities.

Policy Aims

  • We use locally owned and run services by preference.
  • We use locally owned and run accommodation in preference to foreign owned hotel chains.
  • We purchase our equipment and food from locally produced sources.
  • We support local income generation and small business enterprises by supporting locally owned shops and restaurants, and using local staff.
  • All guides hired to lead trips are local to the areas that they travel in and are trained in responsible travel practices; Leave No Trace principles, risk management & safety, remote wilderness first aid and natural history interpretation.
  • We encourage people who travel with us through our leaders to act in a responsible way and with an insight and understanding of the host destination.
  • We take into consideration environmental, cultural and economic issues when looking at new programs (In that order).
  • We ensure that our operations do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people and ensure that our type and scale of tourism is appropriate to local conditions and operate within the limits set by local appropriate infrastructure and carrying capacity.
  • We aim to take responsibility for maintaining and improving the environment.
  • We look for appropriate systems for minimizing water and atmospheric pollution from tourism developments.
  • We aim to achieve zero litter policies.
  • We aim to integrate environmental considerations into all economic considerations.
  • We provide regular and ongoing training, in the principles and practices of responsible tourism, to our office and field staff.
  • We will provide financial support for local economic and environmental projects, thereby actively encouraging local community involvement in Tourism Projects.
  • We aim to reduce the levels of energy use in our offices and by our staff by recycling where possible.
  • We strive to live by our zero paper policy by increased use of computers.

Responsible Tourism: How you can help us to achieve responsible tourism
As a traveler, you have a role to play in Responsible Tourism. We can provide a framework to achieve our goals but as a traveler your actions whilst on holiday and your choice of tour operator play a big part as well. We always provide the following guidelines in our pre-departure information for the places that we visit:

Environmental issues
1. Never buy products that exploit wildlife or aid the destruction of species or habitats. Do not buy souvenirs made from endangered species, like Shatoosh (Tibetan Antelope skin), Kasturi (Musk deer) etc; doing so will only encourage the trade.

2. Consider what you really need to take with you. Waste disposal systems in remote Himalayas are ill equipped to deal with the increased pressures that tourism brings, and a few simple measures can make an enormous difference to the effect you have on your destination. Where possible remove the wrapping of packaged goods before you leave: unwrap soaps and take bottles out of boxes. As far as possible, use water instead of toilet paper. Use only the provided trash bags to dispose leftover food, plastic etc

3. Pick up your litter as you would at home: bottles, cans, plastic, cigarette butts, apart from being unsightly, can be deadly to wild animals.

4. We discourage clients from picking flora or removing anything from its place in nature, and educate on all species in the local environment.

5. Take environmentally friendly detergents and shampoos for hand and hair washing, and use as little as possible and at least 200 ft away from the water source (streams, lakes etc). This will help to keep valuable fresh water supplies, rivers, streams and the lakes free from pollution.

6. Remember that in many places, fresh water is a very precious commodity and should not be wasted, so use a minimum for washing and put off washing of clothes until absolutely needed.

7. Where any toilet facilities exist, however unsavory, they should be used. Where they do not, always bury your waste and make sure it is never near, (at least 200 feet) from a water source.

8. Although we insist that our guides maintain suitable distances from wildlife, allowing the animal a suitable escape distance, there is always a temptation to get closer. For this reason we recommend that you don’t encourage your guide or driver to get closer to the animals than is acceptable. Never feed animals and never attempt to touch them.

9. Be considerate of other visitors to protect the quality of their experience.

Social issues
1. It’s quite easy in a small, simple community to appear an inquisitive rich foreigner, so be aware of the feelings of other people, and try to avoid giving offence. Learning a little of the local language can help reduce these barriers and take note of the dress codes and appropriate photography, all of which your leader can advise you on.

2. Always ask permission before taking pictures of people, ritual events or special places like shrines. If people seem reluctant or look away then do not take a picture. Be careful not to cause offence through your thoughtlessness.

3. Ask your guide for advice on how to respond to begging and about appropriate gifts. It is usually better, for example, to give school materials or local food treats as a group, through the leader, to the school head or village head; just handing out sweets encourages children to be a nuisance by begging, and may well ruin their teeth in a place where there is no dental service.

4. Extravagant displays of wealth such as ostentatious jewellery and technological gadgetry can be an incitement to robbery, as well as accentuating the gap between rich and poor.

Economic issues
1. Try to buy locally made crafts and support local skills and do not simply buy on price but on value to you: bargaining for a lower price for both souvenirs and services, is often the accepted and expected custom, but don’t drive a hard bargain just for the sake of it.

2. Try the local food and specialties. Many areas in the Himalayas are under threat from a reduction in their agricultural base and by eating locally produced goods you will help the local farmers as well as the local economy. Furthermore, it is important to us that we receive feedback from you. This will help us not only to find out your thoughts on our policy, but also to maintain and improve our standards. So please complete the Feedback form and return it to us at the end of a trip.