Our Responsible Travel Belief Statement Our Responsible Travel Policy by lindahy


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									                   Our Responsible Travel Belief Statement
Travel Indochina practices a thorough, realistic Responsible Travel Policy. We believe that travel
should entail an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, a sharing of wealth, and a genuine
appreciation of Asia’s beautiful natural environments. This philosophy underpins the heart and
soul of our style of travel. It drives all that we strive to deliver to our travellers, and shapes the
contact we have with our supplier colleagues in Asia. We recognise that poorly planned itineraries
or poorly informed tourists contribute less to cross-cultural understanding and less to the
livelihoods of local people. We also recognise that we largely work in a developing part of the
world. Political and social factors sometimes impede the short term implementation of our
responsible travel initiatives, so we do not make blanket, unrealistic statements about the
achievability of our goals – doing so would make us ‘irresponsible’. We aspire to short or medium
term implementation of our policies where this is realistic and to incremental change where there
are constraints of a governmental or cultural nature.

                           Our Responsible Travel Policy
As well as having offices in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United State of America,
Travel Indochina has offices in several cities in Indochina. Our direct presence in Asia means that
we are much better able to control the content of our itineraries, the actions of our suppliers, and
the style of our Small Group Journey and tailored travel arrangements. In short, our offices in
Asia give us leverage in implementing our Responsible Travel Policy. Arguably, our presence in
Asia also makes us more ‘responsible’ for implementing this policy – this is a responsibility we

Social – our Travel Indochina staff
        “Our Responsible Travel Policy begins with a mention of our staff, integral to our
        Responsible Travel Policy and a key to its implementation.”

    •   We firmly believe that the most valuable assets in our organisation are our staff, and
        endeavour to train, treat and remunerate staff in accordance with this belief.
    •   We staff our Travel Indochina Asian offices with local people, wherever possible.
    •   Our Asian offices have a long term aim of filling management roles with competent local
    •   We train our Travel Indochina local staff in internationally-useful skills, which provide a
        base for meaningful and life-long careers.
    •   We implement cross-cultural local staff exchange across our Vietnam, Cambodia and
        Australian offices.
    •   We provide staff in our Travel Indochina Asian offices with above industry-standard
        remuneration packages, often including social insurance.
    •   We employ foreign tour leaders who live and work in Asia on at least a medium term
        basis, and who are committed to embracing and learning about the countries in which
        they live.

                  This policy is updated annually and was last updated in August 2009
    •   We train our tour leaders and local guides to share their knowledge of cultural and other
        local issues in a balanced, informative way. Our Cambodia offices directly employ and
        contract local guides, and our Cambodia and Vietnam offices train guides in line with our
        Responsible Travel Policy.
    •   Our Asian offices endeavour to increase the number of contracted female guides.

Social – our operations
        “Our offices in Asia put us in the special position of being able to implement most
        effectively our Responsible Travel Policy.”

    •   Our Travel Indochina Asia offices operate legally and comply fully with local tax, labour,
        and tourism laws and regulations.
    •   Our office bases in Asia make it easier for us to lobby local authorities and the tourism
        industry on matters pertaining to responsible tourism.
    •   Our bases in Asia make it more practical for us to demand that suppliers act in
        accordance with responsible travel principles. We have a history of demanding
        responsible behaviour from our suppliers and of working with our suppliers to develop
        standards in the tourism industry.
    •   We do not knowingly work with suppliers who flagrantly breach local laws or regulations
        or who act unethically.
    •   We believe that it can be better to work with responsible foreign-owned suppliers than
        with irresponsible local suppliers.
    •   We endorse the ‘Global Code of Ethics for Tourism’ published by the United Nations
        World Tourism Organisation, and visible at
        www.unwto.org/code_ethics/eng/brochure.htm In particular, we are strongly opposed to
        the exploitation of children and to sex tourism.
    •   We practice a formal process for booking and providing services to people who are
        disabled or who have special needs.

Social – our style of travel
        “The Travel Indochina philosophy is premised on a belief that Small Group Journey and
        tailored travel arrangements allow for more genuine experiences with local people and
        their environments, and allow us to avoid the offensive traits of mass tourism.”

    •   We firmly believe that our emphasis on Small Group Journey and tailored travel with a
        focus on local experiences allows for opportunities for cultural exchange and the
        dissemination of information between travellers and local people.
    •   Our Small Group Journeys comprise people of varied nationalities and walks of life,
        allowing for cross-cultural learning within groups.
    •   We intentionally avoid the trappings of mass tourism such as organised shopping stops,
        dining exclusively at hotel restaurants, and sightseeing from large buses only.
    •   We keep our Small Group Journeys to a maximum size of 18 people, and many operate
        with less than this number.
    •   We do not plan tours to destinations which cannot cope with the presence of our
    •   A number of our Vietnam itineraries include home stay experiences, allowing for
        opportunities for social interaction and the sharing of ideas across people from different

                  This policy is updated annually and was last updated in August 2009
   •   Several of our Vietnam Small Group Journeys include a half day excursion to a local
       farming community in Hoi An, where our clients work the fields side by side with the
       farmers for an intimate insight into their daily lives.
   •   A stay at the award-winning locally-run Lisu eco-lodge near Chiang Mai is a key feature
       of our flagship Thailand Small Group Journey, the Thailand Discovery.
   •   A key component of our Inside Laos Small Group Journey is a stay at the Kamu Lodge,
       which generates revenue and employment for local Kamu peoples.
   •   Several of our Laos Small Group Journeys include an organised meeting with a monk,
       allowing for a first-hand opportunity to learn about Theravada Buddhism.
   •   Two of our key Laos Small Group Journeys include a traditional ‘baci’ welcome
       ceremony, enabling travellers to experience a ceremony of central importance to Lao
   •   Many of our Laos Small Group Journeys visit COPE (Co-operative Orthopedic Prosthetic
       Enterprise), dedicated to assisting Lao nationals tragically affected by ordinance left over
       from the Indochina conflict.
   •   The majority of our Cambodia Small Group Journeys include an obligatory educational
       session at the ChildSafe Centre, an organisation dedicated to improving the livelihoods of
       ‘at risk’ children (our travellers leave the session as ‘certified’ ChildSafe travellers).
   •   Our Cambodia Small Group Journey welcome kits include a Travel Indochina/ ChildSafe
       flyer full of tips for travelling with respect to the rights and underprivileged children.
   •   Our Highlights of Rajasthan Small Group Journey visits the Osian Camel Camp which
       intensively employs local people and which returns tourist revenues to local people
       during a monthly camel festival.
   •   The Spice of the South India Small Group Journey stays in Coconut Lagoon and Spice
       Village, eco-resorts which produce zero waste, and which have on-site recycling facilities.
   •   Several of our China Small Group Journeys schedule tea visits and lunches with local
       minority families, allowing for cross-cultural exchange.
   •   We encourage our suppliers in China to employ local guides from ethnic minority groups,
       especially on the Silk Road Small Group Journey and in Tibet.
   •   We make sure that camel and donkey rides scheduled on our Silk Road Small Group
       Journey use animals that are well cared for.
   •   Our tour leaders and local guides and our city guides advise on appropriate dress code
       and behaviour in culturally important places.
   •   Our visits to Tonle Sap (Cambodia) often include a visit to the Gecko Environment
       Centre, which teaches people about the ecological importance of Southeast Asia’s
       largest fresh water lake.
   •   In October 2005 we facilitated a very significant donation to the World Monument Fund in
       Cambodia, a not for profit organisation dedicated to the maintenance of a select number
       of archaeologically precious temples in Angkor.

Social – Travel Indochina and traveller direct involvement in the community
       “We have a record of financially supporting a number of not-for-profit organisations
       working in Asia and of responding generously to humanitarian crises.”

           o   Angkor Hospital for Children, Siem Reap, Cambodia (which provides health care
               services to poor Cambodians and through which we employ a Cambodian nurse)
           o   The Purkal Youth Development Society, Dehra Dun, India, (which develops life
               building and academic skills among disadvantaged Indian children and women)

                 This policy is updated annually and was last updated in August 2009
           o    Big Brother Mouse, Laos (which is dedicated to increasing literacy rates among
                Lao youth, and which published the ‘Animals of Australia’ and ‘Sandar’s Story’
                books financed by Travel Indochina)
           o    Creativity for Humanity, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (which provides vocational
                training and workshop shelter facilities for disadvantaged people)
           o    The Loreto Vietnam-Australia Program, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (which cares
                for and educates disabled children and the disadvantaged)
           o    COPE (Co-operative Orthopedic Prosthetic Enterprise), which is dedicated to
                assisting Lao nationals tragically affected by ordinance left over from the
                Indochina conflict.
           o    The Asian tsunami crisis (to which Travel Indochina responded with a significant
                aid donation)

       “We encourage our travellers to patronise or financially assist numerous not-for-profit
       organisations.” These include causes which Travel Indochina financially supports
       (immediately above) as well as:

           o    Koto, Hanoi, Vietnam (a vocational training centre and restaurant staffed by
                disadvantaged young people)
           o    The Nguyen Dinh Chieu School, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, (an organisation
                which is supported by the Loreto Foundation)
           o    The Humanity Centre, near Hanoi, Vietnam (a retail outlet which sells embroidery
                and jewellery made by people from disadvantaged backgrounds)
           o    Friends and Romdeng Restaurants, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (which train and
                are staffed by disadvantaged young people)
           o    The Boddhi Tree Restaurant, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (which trains and is
                staffed by disadvantaged young people)
           o    Lotus Blanc, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (a restaurant which teaches hospitality
                skills to young people recruited from a rubbish dump)
           o    Seeing Hands massage (a shiatsu massage service run by blind Cambodians)
           o    The National Centre for Disabled Persons, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (which sells
                souvenirs made by disabled people)
           o    Made in Cambodia, Siem Reap, Cambodia (which sells items made by
                underprivileged Cambodians)
           o    A number of schools around Siem Reap, Cambodia (to which our travellers often
                donate school materials)
           o    Cabbages and Condoms in Bangkok and Chiang Rai (a restaurant which helps
                fund Thai family planning projects)
           o    Jaisalmer Art Palace community cooperative in Jaisalmer, India
           o    Blind masseur centres in Beijing and Shanghai
           o    COPE (Co-operative Orthopedic Prosthetic Enterprise) in Vientiane, Laos

   “Travel Indochina is committed to reducing and recycling waste in its own offices and to
   working with suppliers on a long term basis in the implementation of environmentally
   responsible initiatives.”

                 This policy is updated annually and was last updated in August 2009
   •   Our Vietnam Experience, Grand Adventure 27 Days and North Unveiled Small Group
       Journeys all stay at the Topas Ecolodge near Sapa – a unique, eco-friendly resort staffed
       by indigenous people from the nearby ethnic minority villages.
   •   Travel Indochina is presently working with Cleaner Climate carbon consultants to offset
       emissions from our Australia, UK and USA offices and support Clean Development
       energy projects in India and Thailand.
   •   Our Australian, UK, USA, Vietnamese and Cambodian offices practise double-sided
       printing, and recycle printer cartridges, whenever possible.
   •   Our stand-alone offices turn off air-conditioning units when they are not required, and turn
       off lights and PCs when offices are not staffed.
   •   We have fitted-out our offices with minimum use of hard wood timber.
   •   Much of the waste from our Cambodia offices is naturally recycled (eg. bottles and paper
       waste are sold to Vietnam, where it is re-used/ recycled).
   •   Our Vietnam Small Group Journey travellers receive a reusable cloth shopping bag,
       manufactured by disadvantaged artisans from Creativity for Humanity.
   •   We schedule environmentally friendly samlor, cyclo, and rickshaw tours in Hanoi, Phnom
       Penh, Delhi, Chiang Mai and Beijing (drivers tend to be socio-economically
       disadvantaged, and so this measure also realises social and economic benefits).
   •   On selected itineraries we visit the Wildlife at Risk centre, a non-profit enterprise near the
       Cu Chi tunnels, dedicated to the preservation of Vietnam's endangered species

       “Travel Indochina is a significant employer of people in the areas in which we operate.
       Our growth is directly linked to the livelihoods of people who help us to provide ground
       services, and is indirectly linked to the livelihoods of many more people.”

   •   We are a significant investor and a significant employer of local people by virtue of the
       fact that we have a series of Travel Indochina offices in Indochina.
   •   The overwhelming majority of our suppliers (hotels, vehicle providers, guide and other
       suppliers) are staffed predominately with local people.
   •   We endeavour to work with legally registered and tax compliant suppliers.
   •   Many of our group and tailored itineraries take people to the provinces, so tourist
       expenditure benefits broader geographic areas, rather than cities alone.
   •   Our tour leaders and local guides encourage travellers to purchase water from local
       vendors (rather than from hotel mini-bars) and to eat at local restaurants.
   •   We promulgate a tipping policy for local guides and drivers which rewards excellent

                 This policy is updated annually and was last updated in August 2009

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