Accommodation & Meals:
The vast majority of the pensions on this trip are small, family run businesses and even the larger hotels in the capital are locally owned so that the economic benefit goes to local communities. In many cases, the hotels in several locations offer fresh, organic produce such as eggs, honey, local cheeses and homemade jams. However, we have a company policy that with very few exceptions all meals should be planned at local restaurants. This because we believe that not only is the experience of dinning outside the hotel more authentic but it helps distribute the income. For example, we take every group for a meal with a family from a village close to Gjirokastra. This home cooked meal is one of the most popular parts of the trip and offers a great insight into rural, domestic life in Albania whilst also showcasing and encouraging traditional methods of cooking.
Local Crafts and Culture:
In terms of supporting culture, our local guides are very enthusiastic about their national arts, history and ways of life. There will be several opportunities to visit cultural landmarks such as the Natural History Museum with its socialist mosaic façade, the 15th Century Elbasan Fortress and the artists' village of Voskopoja, just to name a few. Here we encourage donations and purchasing of local crafts which help to sustain and celebrate the lesser known, yet highly rich culture of Albania. There is also space in the itinerary dedicated to exploring local markets (Gjirokastra bazaar, Korca Bazaar, Kruja Bazaar) which is a great way of supporting the economy and giving visitors a real taste of life here.
We always try to operate with the local and wider communities in mind and are conscious of our ability to help disadvantaged groups. We have fundraised within our company and with our partners to help children with learning disabilities in Albania. This has been really successful in providing school materials for a day care centre in the outskirts of the capital Tirana. This year we have also been involved in the organisation of Albanian Paralympic activities. By providing vehicles for the events, we helped people from around the country with different disabilities to participate in several Tirana schools.
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.
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.