Responsible Tourism

The The Different Travel Company Responsible Travel and Tourism Policy

We define Responsible Travel and Tourism as: 'The use of tourism as a force for good which adds value to, and benefits, the economies, societies and communities we visit, whilst minimising the negative side effects of our tourism to both the destination and the global environment'.

We believe that life-enhancing travel is not about seeing a place, but experiencing a place, its people, its cultures, food and ways of life. It is only right that when we, relatively wealthy tourists, enjoy the benefits of tourism, we should do so responsibly, by ensuring that we are not contributing to the exploitation of either people or the environment, that we are participating in 'fair trade' practices which benefit those who work so hard to make our experiences overseas so great, that we are contributing to the sustainable economic development of the communities who host us, and that we are respectful towards and assist in the maintenance of indigenous cultures.

Economy

  • The Different Travel Company has a policy of only working with agents who are local to the destination and who are, as far as possible, independent, reliable and professional.
  • Although we seek to ensure all our events are accompanied by The Different Travel Company representatives, we have a policy of employing local guides and drivers for all our charity challenges and adventure holidays.
  • The Different Travel Company has a policy of only employing local builders, masons, craftsmen, artisans, electricians and other manual workers so as not to deprive local people of employment.
  • We encourage our customers to support the local economy of the destination by purchasing goods and services whilst there.
  • We encourage our customers to eat out at local restaurants and street stalls where possible and to visit local markets to boost the impact of their spending on the local economy.
  • Our projects are always run by local people for local people.

Community

  • The Different Travel Company endeavour to use only hotels which have strong and positive links with local communities.
  • The Different Travel Company always try, wherever possible, to use hotels which are owned and managed by people local to the area in which the hotel is situated, thus ensuring the revenue benefits local people. Where this is not possible, we do our utmost to ensure that staff are treated with respect in terms of salary and working conditions.
  • The Different Travel Company encourages its customers to actively support social and environmental projects local to the destination and community, and to consider what help and support can be provided individually prior to the customer's arrival and after their departure.

Customs & Cultures

  • The Different Travel Company believes that the tourist should have an awareness of, and respect for, the culture, history, beliefs and practices of the destinations they visit.
  • The Different Travel Company does not engage in 'cultural imperialism'. We understand that all cultures are equally valid and believe that indigenous cultures should be respected.
  • We believe that the customs of the destination visited should be observed and that time should be taken to understand that human societies are diverse and Western values may not be understood, let alone practiced.
  • All sites of religious or cultural significance should be respected, regardless of the religion they represent.
  • The customer should learn about the culture, history and politics of the destination to be visited.
  • The Different Travel Company provides opportunities to visit projects and places of interest.

Environment

  • The Different Travel Company's charity challenges and adventure holidays are all based on small groups of no more than 30 participants. We believe that the negative impact of tourism on communities is lessened when we travel in small groups.
  • The Different Travel Company endeavour to only use hotels who have adopted environmentally responsible practices.
  • The Different Travel Company requires our agents and hotels to observe environmentally sustainable practices, including limiting pollution, sound water management, recycling of glass and paper, and the sourcing of materials and foods locally.
  • We encourage minimising water usage and the use of environmentally safe detergent as many places flush water directly into rivers and the sea.
  • We encourage hotels to adopt a policy of giving guests the choice of re-using hand/bath towels rather than automatically sending them to the laundry.
  • Where possible, we use direct flights to our destinations. The worst carbon emissions are emitted during take off and landing, so the fewer landings and take offs, the better.
  • Internal flights are avoided unless absolutely necessary. Our tours are of a length that permits us to use land transport as much as possible. In many cases part of our tours are on foot, by bicycle or by boat.

Nature & Wildlife

  • The Different Travel Company understands the potential harm that can come from taking groups into areas of fragile ecosystems. We endeavour to lessen the impact by insisting on a policy of 'leave no trace' tourism.
  • We go to great lengths to ensure that our customers are well informed about the area and aware of the impact that they can have on the environment.
  • We only take small groups into such areas.
  • We work with projects that are specifically designed to preserve fragile eco-systems and endangered plants and animals (such as in the Galapagos).

UK operations

  • The majority of The Different Travel Company staff work from home, negating the need to commute to the office, others live locally and walk or cycle to work.
  • When planning tours, The Different Travel Company consider very carefully the impact of taking small groups to certain destinations.
  • The Different Travel Company tries to be as 'paper free' as possible, utilising email and phone as much as possible and recycles whenever possible.
  • The Different Travel Company believe in 'Fair Trade' travel and tourism and are members of, and support, the objectives of Tourism Concern (www.tourismconcern.org.uk)

Customers

Our advice to our customers to help them travel more responsibly:

  • Each time you fly, offset your carbon emission by making a carbon offsetting payment to a reputable source to nullify the impact of your flight upon global warming. You can offset your emissions via places such as Climate Care.
  • Turn lights, air conditioning and fans off when you leave your hotel room.
  • Minimise water usage as many places lack sufficient water. Shower rather than bath. Don't leave taps running when washing. Use the sea or a swimming pool to cool off, rather than taking repeated showers.
  • Use environmentally friendly detergent, shampoo and soap for any washing. Lush stores (www.lush.co.uk) do excellent ranges in environmentally friendly products. Consider rinsing out clothes while you use the shower.
  • Use public transport wherever possible.
  • Only flush human waste down the toilet and where toilet paper is not to be flushed, please use the bins provided. Bring biodegradable toilet paper for treks where proper toilets are not available and pack away into sanitary disposal bags.
  • Be aware of what you are purchasing in local shops. Ensure that items you are buying are not from endangered / fragile species such as coral or produced using child labour.
  • Travel light and purchase extra clothes and goods while there.
  • Be prepared to haggle over the cost of goods and services but never haggle to try to get the lowest price. The idea of haggling is to come to a mutually agreeable price based on what you are willing to pay for an item. In poor communities vendors may feel they have to accept lower than the real value of the item in order to make a valuable sale. Please be sensitive to this. The annual salary in some places is less than £200 a year.
  • But also, avoid being exploited. Always be aware that some will see Western tourists as an easy target and prices may be increased because you are a tourist.
  • Remember to recycle where possible, including plastic. Return glass bottles to where they were purchased and don't litter.
  • Never participate in prostitution or sex-tourism, which is usually illegal and always based upon exploitation of the weakest.
  • Never buy or use illegal or illicit drugs in the destination country. You put yourself and your group at risk of legal repercussions by doing so.
  • Avoid giving money to beggars. Ask your local guide for advice on how you can help in a more sustainable way. Also see Stuff Your Rucksack which gives details of projects where donations of books, educational equipment and other items are needed.
  • Consider adopting or sponsoring a project which will benefit the destination community.
  • Learn to speak a few simple phrases of the destination language. Buy a phrase book where possible.
  • Join an organisation such as Tourism Concern who campaign to make responsible tourism practices the mainstream norm for all, and not the exception for the few, and fights against exploitation by or for tourists.
  • Take advantage of the opportunities provided by The Different Travel Company to visit projects and places of interest.

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