first_imgSource = Travel Indochina Travel Indochina has been nominated for the prestigious Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards.Winners of the Responsible Tourism Awards, organised by online travel directory in collaboration with the Daily Telegraph (UK), Geographical Magazine and BBC World News, will be announced at World Travel Market on 11 November 2009.Travel Indochina Managing Director, Paul Hole, says he is proud of the company’s nomination, particularly in the important category of ‘Best Tour Operator for Cultural Engagement’.“We are thrilled that our concerted responsible tourism effort is being recognised, reflective of the effort we have put into it,” says Paul. “We were nominated externally, meaning our message about sustainable and responsible tourism is getting through, and at the level we want it to – our customers, our suppliers and those in the industry.”The central tenet of the Awards is that all types of tourism – from niche to mainstream – should be operated in a way that respects and benefits destinations and local people. The Awards recognise commitment to cultural, economic and environmental contributions.“As with the awards, acting responsibly is a key tenet to which Travel Indochina has always operated. In the 16 years since our inception, we have continually aimed to create and operate itineraries which are both responsive to our clients’ interests and sensitive to local issues,’ says Paul. “Our Small Group Journeys have been designed with an underlying theme of carefully planned local interaction, in order to create an appreciation of local cultures and a significant contribution to local economies. “We’ve produced our own City Guides, which recommend patronage at shops and restaurants which support or train people from disadvantaged backgrounds.“In fact our support of local businesses, and our ability to avoid the ‘trappings of mass tourism’ such as hotel dining, large coach touring and scheduled shopping has had a tangible impact and helped support the establishment and success of several businesses, including:Tamarind Cooking School in Luang Prabang, Laos, (established in 2008);Lolita transport company in Siem Reap, Cambodia, (established in 2005) andBlue Cruiser Boat company in Saigon, (established in 2003).“Our economic support goes further. “We are intent on working as a 100% tax-compliant ground operator – which we believe makes us almost alone among tour operators in the Indochina area – because we believe the flow on effect of legitimate, tax paying businesses to the host country is significant, as well as the obvious fact that ethically, it’s the only right thing to do.“We also insist our suppliers act in the same responsible, ethical manner we do.”The Award focuses on the steps taken by nominees to encourage positive engagement with local communities. It also looks to identify work done to reduce negative social or cultural impacts in the destination. “Pre-trip, we provide our travellers with a comprehensive destination-specific Pre Departure Guide and a ‘Tread Lightly’ Guide to Responsible Travel which give clear guidance on how to travel in Asia in a culturally sensitive way,” says Paul.“Our guides also provide advice and insights on how to avoid cultural offence. “In some instances, we have country by country specifics we address as well. In Cambodia, for example, our offices are certified with the ChildSafe Network, a child protection network. Our welcome kits for our travellers in Cambodia include ‘ChildSafe Tips for Travellers’ designed to further the goals of child protection.“We are also certified with Heritage Watch, an organisation dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Cambodian culture, including archeology. Travel Indochina also satisfies the environmental criteria of the awards, with a significant track record of ensuring low environmental impact tourism. “Responsible tourism goes beyond cultural and economic values,” says Paul.“We also take our responsibility to ensure low environmental impact tourism seriously, including the operations of our wholesale and retail offices. We had our carbon emissions assessed in 2007, and have been able to achieve a 35% reduction in our emissions since. “We are always actively seeking other options to ensure we continue to remain sustainable. “For example, in October 2009, we will be purchasing $US2,000 worth of land via the Himaapaan Reforestation Project, northern Thailand (an innovative project which also involves participation from nearby villagers). Our 2009 journeys to northern Thailand have included educational visits to this site.“It’s all part of our ongoing commitment to being ‘responsible’, across all its guises.” last_img

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