North East India tour, Meghalaya & beyond

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Responsible tourism

North East India tour, Meghalaya & beyond

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

At the company location in the UK there are fifteen staff members. Of these, four work from home (no commuting), one who cycles twenty miles a day to & from work, and another cycles ten miles a day (in summer). The new office that was recently built is very energy efficient. It is well-insulated, the roof is shaded by trees which helps with the building not overheating during the summer months and therefore air-conditioning is not a daily requirement, and it has lots of natural light to reduce electric light usage whenever possible.

The company is located on a former farm and the directors grow fruit and vegetables which are shared with the team (apples, pears, blackcurrants, broad beans, lettuce, mint, courgettes, squashes etc!), so we keep our own footprint low. In addition, there are other members of staff that have home grown products that are available to their team members. As a company, we look to buy energy-efficient computers, and believe in recycling, so the latest computers bought have been both energy efficient and re-conditioned.

As part of our commitment to the environment we have a programme to plant trees in Tanzania, Malawi, Peru etc. through the company’s foundation. This was set up to help alleviate poverty, conserve endangered wildlife, and protect earth’s environmental diversity for the benefit of us all. All the projects have a link with tourism in some way, and many benefit the wider world as well as local people, through conserving areas of natural beauty. We don’t just look overseas when considering the environment, even at the office the team planted tress in the fields surrounding the buildings to celebrate the company’s 21st birthday in 2019.

As a company we think about our partners overseas carefully. Whereas it is not always possible for them, due to their locations in remote areas, the company ethos is to use properties around the globe that have a similar ethical stance to ourselves. If they can use local suppliers for their provisions, be it food or furnishings then they do, and all offer a variety of menus including vegetarian and vegan/plant-based options. Our partners support the use of solar/renewable energies, and many are looking at ways of switching their current supplies to more eco-friendly options in order to be more efficient. The use of solar, water and air are options in use or being explored, as well as grey water run offs. Energy efficient appliances and practices, card operated in room lighting, low energy bulbs, and a change in laundry practices, are all in operation, and show just a few of the initiatives used. Our partners also use local staff within their properties. Many live on-site in seasonal properties for example reducing the travel emissions of the company, many come from the local villages and communities surrounding the properties. This includes everyone from house keeping to management and the guides that are from the locale.

Due to the nature of the vacations provided by the company, it is impossible to eliminate all flights but where possible we use the minimum flight hours an itinerary can operate with. The packages we have on offer include rail portions in some areas, which keep emissions low, many walking options and shared transportation.

Environment

The company that organises this vacation is a multi-award-winning responsible travel company. They try to ensure that nothing they do at home (in UK) or abroad compromises the environment or wildlife or exploits people. They believe in ensuring that travelers are well-informed, as an informed traveler tend to be a more respectful and sensitive traveler. They also believe in giving back to the country, people wildlife and environments which are affected by tourism.

One of the first stays on this adventure is with a local Khasi family. Not only do they promote their way of life they educate in the local traditions and customs, through walks, and cookery classes. The daughter of the family runs an eco-bamboo company making utensils, cups, bowls etc. But as well as making them, she looks at how to replant and sustain the environment around the business.

The local Khasi business owners that are partners in this trip are very keen to treat nature with reverence, after all, in a remote area such as this suitability is a by word. They use home grown produce or that from the local villagers, while lodges and hotels are built with and use to furnish, locally sourced material.

The Kaziranga National Park is now over 100 years old and was formed to ensure the local animals was conserved. It is home to over 2200 one-horned rhinos, 2/3 of the world’s population. This is a UNESCO world heritage site with a special rhino protection force. Poaching has not been eradicated as yet, however; the numbers involved have been declining. Very much a case of poachers beware! The tiger, elephant wild water buffalo and swamp deer have also increased in numbers thanks to the efforts of the park.

For every person that travels with the company, it plants trees through The Travel Forest initiative. Depending on where they plant and the requirement of the specific area, they plant either indigenous trees or a mix of indigenous and non-native species. Planting non-native seedlings may seem counter-intuitive but doing this can often help any remaining indigenous forest from being cut down (e.g. for fuel) as some non-native trees grow much more quickly than indigenous types. They particularly aim to save ancient or older indigenous forest, through offering an alternative option for fuel requirements of local communities. In addition to this benefit, their Travel Forest initiative helps with such things as planting for water-course retention, soil erosion, shade and even food – all depending on what is planted and where. They have planted almost 100,000 trees to date in various degraded locations including the Andean mountains in Peru, northern Tanzania and Malawi. This has always been done in conjunction with the local communities who plant and then tend the seedlings. Trees are far more important to the health of this planet (and us) than many people imagine. This global Travel Forest initiative can and does make a big difference.

The UK head office has a good policy of recycling, reducing and re-using (electricity, paper, plastic etc). They also buy only fair-trade goods such as tea, coffee, and use biodegradable detergents etc. They also make a point of buying only top eco-rated equipment (e.g. monitors).

Community

The properties we use in this itinerary are owned and operated by local families who believe in using locally sourced if not home grown produce, they employ villages at their properties and believe that they are the keepers, the guardians of the environment that gives then so much in return.

At the eco-bamboo company in Shillong the workers come from the village and produce ethically made products for sale.

At another of the properties the entire workforce is made up from local Khasi women, giving the community employment. When the resort was built, it was to provide much needed employment in the area, the native home of the owner, as the town was becoming neglected as many residents were migrating to the cities looking for work.

In terms of information, all travelers are given guidelines on Traveling with Respect, which includes advice on cultural aspects of your travels as well as protecting the environment. For any community-owned or run project, they also have a Community Tourism Information sheet for travelers to help explain how to get the best from the experience, and what to expect (good and bad). For trekkers, the company have a Porter Policy in place, a copy of which is given to clients. They are also have a Responsible Wildlife Viewing guide too. For anything more specific, e.g. rules about visiting gorillas, this information is also given to clients. In addition, they offer more information about the native people and cultures in a destination country, which all adds to a traveler being more aware.

The company works with partners on the ground in each destination, and only uses local guides. They also primarily promote locally owned services (hotels etc). They have eco-rated about 300 properties worldwide which they work with closely, so they are very clear which accommodations have good environmental and social responsibility credentials. This information is used to ensure that any traveler wanting to ensure they are really making a difference, can choose between one property and another on eco-issues.

They also promote community-owned projects and services where applicable and possible. Indeed, they were instrumental in setting up two community-owned ventures in Tanzania and Peru.

The company backs a charity with funds and administration. This is a registered UK charity whose principle aim is to relieve the poverty of indigenous communities in areas outside of the UK which are affected by tourism. The charity backs poverty alleviation, education, cultural preservation and conservation projects within these regions. It has backed schools, clinics, micro-business projects and more. It is a charity we encourage our travelers to donate to if they would like to give something back.

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