Responsible tourism: Iceland vacation, small group
Activity: Cycling trips in general have a minimal impact on the environment; clients are briefed on managing food waste on cycling days- litter can be collected by guide in support vehicle and disposed of appropriately, in respect of local recycling policies. As this is a cycling trip, clients will interact with locals on scheduled stops, but also on the roads while cycling. Local drivers are generally very respectful and tolerant towards cyclists, and it is pointed out to clients that this goes both ways – while clients are on vacation, it is important to respect the fact that local drivers may be working or just going about their everyday lives, and to impact this as little as possible. For example letting cars pass on the sometimes narrow roads, giving way to pedestrians and even, at times, livestock; rather than being simple observers and consumers, we are all responsible for promoting a climate of tolerance and mutual respect.
Water: Water is a really important issue with cycling trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Water is provided for clients on all cycling trips, and is carried in the support vehicle. Water receptacles are recycled or reused where applicable. As tap water in the region is drinkable, clients will be encouraged to use tap water and to reuse plastic bottles, rather than buying bottled water.
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: Hotels used on this trip are family-owned with local staff, providing valuable employment in the tourism industry on which the region depends. Fresh produce is sourced locally as much as possible. Clients are encouraged to stop at local cafés on cycling breaks, notably on or near the mountain passes on the itinerary - local cafés are often seasonal and dependant on tourism for their livelihood, while providing valuable employment in areas where tourism is the principal, or only, employment option, particularly for younger people. Picnic lunches are sourced at local stores, and evening meals are taken in the family-run restaurants or at the hotels, also family-run.
Community: The trip takes the group through small villages and towns in the Maritime Alps, with many small local businesses and artisans that are dependent on tourism for their livelihood; clients are encouraged to sample local wares when possible. The bikes used on the trip are hired from a locally-owned and run business in Luchon; for all our trips we privilege local operators over large retail chain stores for the rental of bikes. These small businesses have been founded by people with a love of cycling, who have often cycled the very roads we will take on the trip: this ensures a more personalised service for both the operator and the end client, while benefitting the local economy.
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.