As a global operator, we take our role in the tourism industry very seriously. We recognise the impact that tourism has on local communities and the environment, and we plan and operate all our tours with this front of our minds. We believe that every tour operator must be responsible in the way they conduct their business, to ensure the welfare of all people and the conservation of the environment.
We are committed to operating in a responsible manner, incorporating the principles of sustainable development in the way we provide our travelers with real life experiences. We believe that responsible travel is about the attitude you take with you and the choices you make when traveling - to respect and benefit local people, their cultures, economy and the environment. For example on trips like this one through Vietnam where dress standards are conservative, particularly outside of the major cities, we recommend our travelers (both female and male) wear loose, lightweight clothing so as not to offend, particularly when visiting religious sites.
This comprehensive trip from southern to northern Vietnam has been designed to pass through the country as considerately as possible, while maximising the experience of our group. We use local transport where ever possible, from overnight sleeper trains to locally owned river boats on the Mekong Delta, public buses to ferries. Throughout, we stay in small, locally owned hotels reflective of the local flavour, while a night at a homestay in the Mekong Delta is basic but not to be missed. Our visits and other like them are a vital source of income for our hosts.
All produce used throughout the trip is sourced locally en route. We eat at local restaurants, sample street food from local vendors and encourage our travelers to only purchase souvenirs from local artisans. We visit some fantastic traditional markets on this itinerary so the opportunities to support local craftsmen are plentiful. We even recruit our on the ground team (including the group leader) from the local communities that we travel through. All these elements combine to not only give a fantastic insight into the country and a snap shot of day to day life, but also put valuable financial resources back into local economies, creating jobs and supporting local businesses.
One of the many local initiatives we support across our product range can often be visited on this trip. The KOTO Saigon Training Centre is an organisation providing training in hospitality to former street children. Many groups passing through Hanoi get the opportunity to visit the new KOTO restaurant, staffed by those the project has worked with. The food is great too!
As a company our responsibilities donít stop when our tours end. Our own in house foundation has been in operation for over 10 years; a not-for-profit fund that has distributed over AU$3 million to more than 70 non-government organisations since 2002, from health care, education, human rights, child welfare, sustainable development and in environmental and wildlife protection. Donations come from our travelers and are then matched by us dollar for dollar.
Across Vietnam, our foundation actively supports five different projects and causes. These include Cuc Phuong National Parkís Turtle Conservation Centre) which specialises in breeding and protecting the countryís 23 native turtle species, including training protection officers, and The Nguyen Nga Centre, offering education, training and work placement opportunities to disadvantaged people and people with disabilities.
We are proud to be a carbon neutral company. We offset all our global carbon emissions and offer a carbon offset option to passengers booking their flights through us. Through these schemes, significant financial contributions are being made on behalf of our business, suppliers, staff and travelers to internationally certified carbon abatement projects, equating to over AU$1 million since 2007. Since then, we have offset over 45,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. That's equal to approximately the amount of carbon that 2,796,047 trees would absorb over 10 years, or taking over 4,753 passenger cars off the road for an entire year!