Responsible tourism: Humpback whale watching vacation in Hawaii
Responsible tourism is never more important that when viewing wildlife. Our whale watching vacation destinations are in geographical locations that support some of the most unique plant and animal biodiversity of anywhere in the world. Especially marine biodiversity. It is critical to our company that the ongoing development of wildlife and whale watching tourism in all our destinations is done in a sustainable and responsible manner; whilst largely benefiting the local people not foreign tour companies.
Unlike larger companies we usually work through a primary supplier based in the destination we visit in those locations where English is not the first language. Where English is spoken as the first language, like Maui, we work directly with operators. We select the smaller whale watch operators with the more manoeuvrable boats, run by locals who live in the area. This afford us the level of personal service our customers have come to associate with us. We have been working with the same whale watch operating company since we started running tours in Maui. They share our commitment to the development of responsible wildlife tourism and adhere strongly to our own code of conduct that we designed specifically for boat based interactions with whales and dolphins.
Working through one whale watch operator in Maui we are able to influence the behaviour of other operators by establishing levels of best practice that serve as a benchmark. We will only ever use those boat handlers who have undergone specific training in viewing marine wildlife. As these codes of conduct are improved so does best practice which will in turn reduce negative tourism impact on the marine wildlife of this unique Pacific island.
In order to have a practical and lasting influence on this we continue to develop our own expertise and the implementation of new ideas and practices through our membership and active participation in, The Whale Watch International, Responsible Whale Watch Partnership Working Group of The World Cetacean Alliance and our close association with a number of other responsible and outstanding wildlife tourism providers around the globe.
Responsibility in wildlife tourism is a "must have" not a "nice to have". It is not restricted simply to the point of contact, it applies throughout the supply chain. Responsibility for our environmental and social impact extends to communities we encounter on the way to our destination as much as it does to those we interact with once we reach our vacation venue. This is the mantra on which our company was founded and the cornerstones of our dealings with our suppliers, local communities and customers, both on location and during the journey to reach out chosen destination.
1) We regard our primary and secondary suppliers as business partners not business associates. What is good for our suppliers is good for us and in turn, and most importantly, allows us to deliver the very best service available to our customers.
2) It is important to us that both our primary and secondary suppliers make an appropriate profit. We take account of the vagaries of exchange rates and local economic indicators to ensure our suppliers are paid commensurate with the value of the service they provide. 3) We invest heavily in ensuring all key suppliers are trained to the level of our most qualified senior tour guide. This way we know our primary supplier can deliver the same message and vacation experience as we would.
4) We believe it is important that our customers who travel with us know as much about the local area and communities as possible before they travel. All customers receive a detailed written and verbal responsible travel briefing before we arrive. It is important for our customers to travel with respect and consideration for the local people we encounter along the way as well as at the destination.
5) We use the very best local expertise in the delivery of services to our customers and recognise our transport and accommodation suppliers as experts in their field and treat them as friends and associates in business. We consider the specific expertise of our drivers, boat handlers and accommodation providers as an integral part of our company team effort, not as peripheral.