Responsible tourism: Mont Ventoux cycling weekend in France
Activity: Few vacations have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints (or tyre tracks!) although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants and to get a real impression of the area.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Accommodation and Meals: We stay in a charming, newly renovated family run hotel situated at the foot of Mont Ventoux in the village of Sault. The Signoret hotel is locally owned and staffed, which is part of a conscious effort to encourage employment alternatives where there may not be many, and to keep tourist investment local. Waste is sorted and glass, card and paper are recycled in each establishment. Breakfasts are provided in Provençal style and there should be fresh, locally sourced produce available. Where meals are not provided, clients are shown cafes, restaurants, markets and wine producers where they can buy traditional, authentic cuisine. A client favourite is right at the top of Mont Ventoux!
Community: The trip route takes us through a number of small villages and towns which depend on tourist commerce for their livelihood. We try to support these rural areas as much as possible by encouraging clients to use local businesses. For example, the bikes themselves are hired from a locally owned and run company in Sault, rather than a large company which might be slightly cheaper. Many of these businesses experience a seasonal flux of commerce according to cycling events in the area, so it really is key for us to buy locally wherever possible.
A Fair Deal: We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local. In exchange for their expertise on local wildlife, environment and culture that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit. For example, clients are briefed on managing food waste on cycling days- litter can be collected by a guide in a support vehicle and disposed of appropriately, in respect of local recycling policies.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.