Cambodia & Laos tailor made tour

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Cambodia & Laos tailor made tour

Environment

Our ground agents are in the process of establishing a carbon offset programme in place to allow clients to offset their carbon usage. This is being done through an organisation called GERES, a not-for-profit organisation with over 40yrs experience in the field which aims to help preserve the environment, limit climate change and its consequences, reduce fuel poverty and improve living conditions.

Our local ground agent underwent a cross-country Earth Check environmental assessment in two key offices, Ho Chi MinhCity and Phnom Penh, for the 2012/2013 period and based on their results have since implemented a lot of new policies. They are dedicated to reducing the impact of its internal operations on the environment and and in conjunction with this the Siem Reap office in Cambodia is using 100% biodegradable fuel for its generator.This not only reduces the environmental impact by using a less polluting resource but it also improves staff working conditions as biofuel smells less and operates quieter than regular diesel. The Phnom Penh office now completely turn off their computers and printers daily which has resulted in a 4.4 tonne reduction in Co2 emissions (equivalent to 1,652 litres of fuel).
They also supports a social enterprise called Naga Biofuel which is collecting used cooking oil from hotels to recycle into biodiesel and bio degreaser for engines of all sorts before selling it at lower prices to environmental NGOs.

This tour offers the opportunity to visit the Free the Bears Fund (FTB), an Australian, not-for-profit organisation established with the sole purpose of helping to protect, preserve and enrich the lives of bears. In Laos, FTB works with the Luang Prabang Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office and the Provincial Tourism Office to create a safe home for rescued bears that were illegally captured from the wild as young cubs. They are also lobbying against bear bile farms which are still legal in Laos. Visitors to Laos can visit the FTB education centre and the bear sanctuary while also visiting the Kuang Si Waterfalls.

Community

Our local Cambodia & Laos agent has been operating socially and environmentally responsible trips to the countries for many years and has a wealth of experience and expertise in the region. They have a strong responsible travel ethos and a realisation that tourism can change local lives for better and for worse. With this in mind our agents have established a responsible travel ethos creating authentic travel experiences which mutually benefit locals and visitors.

Fair salaries are paid to all employees and regular training is provided to support future career development. Only local guides who are aware of local customs and cultures are employed which not only keeps the funds paid to staff within the local community but also helps avoid any potential cultural clashes between visitors and locals. All guides are also required to sign an agreement with our ground agents agreeing not to take visitors in their charge to unplanned sites such as schools, orphanages etc or to ask for donations or tips. Guides are required to turn off vehicles when idling to minimise unnecessary emissions and where possible, eco-friendly modes of transport are opted for such as their collection of electric bikes used for Luang Prabang city tours.

Our ground agents support many local charities in Laos including the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) in Luang Prabang which is visited on this trip. The centre is dedicated to the collection, preservation and interpretation of the traditional arts and lifestyles of the country’s many and diverse ethnic groups to help safeguard the regions heritage for future generations. The centre has a permanent collection of ethnic artifacts from 30 ethnic groups and offers a fair-trade scheme for local artisans: on average 50% of the fair-trade shop income goes directly to the artists and provides over 500 families from ethnic groups in 12 separate provinces with an extra income.

Other charities financially supported in Laos by our local agents include MAG, the Mines Advisory Group. Laos has the unenviable record of being the most bombed country in the world per capita with at least 30% of bombs dropped remaining unexploded and thus still a huge threat to the lives of local people. MAG works hard to clear land of unexploded ordnance making it safe for use and opening it up to residents as farming land.

Alongside MAG, our local agents also support COPE, the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise located in Vientiane. This is a locally run, not-for-profit organisation founded to help victims of unexploded ordnance with rehabilitation and the provision of orthotic and prosthetic devices.

On this trip you will stay in the Shinta Mani Resort in Siem Reap. The resort runs the not-for-profit Shinta Mani Foundation, also a registered NGO, with the aim to enhance the lives of individuals within the local community.
Cambodia has one of the largest populations of unskilled youth in South East Asia so the Foundation aims to educate disadvantaged youths with a 10 month course in hospitality which includes free tuition, uniforms, materials, bicycles, meals for themselves and a small allowance of rice and money to go towards their family (otherwise it is often expected that the trainee works to help support the family rather than complete their training). All trainees are taught English and then specialise in certain areas such as front of house, housekeeping, Spa therapy or the restaurant.

The scheme has now been expanded to include the Farming Development Centre with the goal of enhancing the lives of young Khmer villagers living in the countryside surrounding Siem Reap. Funding comes from donations from the Resort itself and guests: over a four year period Shinta Mani guests sponsored over 900 piglets, 800 school supplies, 1000 water wells and 90 houses. The Foundation provides business education and interest free start-up loans to local entrepreneurs in the form of materials to facilitate the start-up. The Foundation also supports Cambodian doctors to provide medical check-ups in rural areas. Costs of check-ups and treatment are often prohibitively high for rural communities so this service is often vital. The Foundation also educates rural communities on preventative measures such as the proper use of mosquito nets.

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