We work closely with local communities enabling us to not just give something back to those communities but also offer those who travel with us a more genuine, fuller and deeper understanding of the ethnic make-up of this fascinating region. Our small group size offers us the greatest opportunity to be effective responsible travelers.
Tourism is bringing in some cash into the communities of this area. The area around has been classified as a biodiversity conservation area and is unique in its wetland geography. Many migrating birds stop-over on the wet-lands. Responsible tourism supports the preservation of this area by offering some income reducing the pressure off the hunt for protected wildlife and agricultural use of the reserved wet areas.
Ban Kone Neua primary school: The original 70 year old building was in disrepair without maintenance and a series of foreign masters over this period. The buildings had to be condemned and were dismantled. It was a difficult decision because there was no funding for a replacement of the building. The abbot at the local temple offered an area under the novices’ accommodation quarters and an informal agreement that this would be available for a period of two years. A wing and a prayer, a better option than no school.
Our passengers and other independent tourists have generously supported a rebuilding project. The school is being built on the old foundations and local people are doing the construction work. The project is supervised and accounted for by a local businessman. The immediate target is for $2000 USD of which approx half has been raised and donated. The larger plan is to add areas for recreation and reserved spaces for administration and teachers planning. Originally it was hoped that the school would be operational by the beginning of the “wet” 2006 (approx June).
The Lao are very patient and the teachers keep on teaching the children under the floor of the temple during the rains.
Information: Providing suitable, relevant information for our customers; to help them to gain a wider understanding of our style of tourism that focuses on learning, genuine interaction with the local communities, reciprocity and cultural exchange processes. To be aware of the potential impact of tourism on the local society, culture and environment, and to behave and dress appropriately with a respect and appreciation for local customs, mores and traditions and a respect for the ecology of areas visited. Our guides and leaders thus facilitate communication of our values to both travelers and local communities, educating them in sustainable tourism practices
Group sizes: By limiting groups to small sizes we aim to reduce the impact on both local communities and the environment whilst allowing for greater genuine interaction with said communities. It also results in a higher guide/customer ratio thus greater facility for supervision and individual assistance and allows us to use smaller hotels and restaurants and employ the services of more genuinely ‘local’ operators perhaps not otherwise well equipped for larger groups.
Destinations: We combine the well known tourist sites with many off-the-beaten-track, rarely visited destinations thus diverting tourist revenue and contact with responsible tourism into areas not usually benefiting as well as providing a more authentic view of the region visited.
Local products: As much as possible we aim to employ local personnel, (guides, drivers, agents etc), use local restaurants and smaller privately owned accommodation. Customers are also encouraged to buy and use local products and services as much as possible in order to support and stimulate the local economy.
Instruction: By explaining our methods and the reasons behind them local agents, guides and hotels are encouraged by us to adopt further responsible tourism practices themselves and guides and drivers are provided with additional training in this respect.