1. Economic Responsibility
Creating economic benefits for host communities and local people is the central aim of The Beyond Tourism Co. We believe that if tourism is managed responsibly, it can contribute significantly to a better standard of living and introduce more options for people living in poverty. Therefore we have set out to make sure that every part of tours support local livelihoods and economic development in different ways. We want the income from our tours to stay within the host country instead of going to international investors.
In order to be as sustainable as possible, we do not donate to non-tourism based charities or projects to make up for the negative impact of tourism. Instead, we focus on partners that use tourism as a positive livelihoods strategy, for example hotel schools that provide training and employment for disadvantaged young people. These partners are all part of our day to day operations, not just a ‘good cause’.
All our accommodation options are locally owned and/or responsibly run. We look for evidence that the supplier is reinvesting in the local economy, employing local people and spending the money in the area. For example, family-run guest houses tend to buy in local goods and services both for personal consumption and to run their businesses. Nearly all our accommodations source their food at nearby markets or directly from farmers, helping to support the rural economy.
We require that hotels employ local people in all or nearly all their posts, including management positions, so that it is not only the low-paid jobs that are available to them. Hotels should also provide on the job or classroom training in hospitality skills and preferably languages, to help staff develop their careers.
As a minimum, we ask that hotels donate and/or encourage their guests to donate to local projects and charities, but we prefer those that take a more active role in community development, for example by funding their own programmes, promoting local culture or offering structured volunteer opportunities.
Visits to communities
We use community-based tourism in many of our trips, as it is potentially one of the most effective ways to spread the benefits of tourism to those that most need it. We work in partnership with community organisations and consult with our ground operators so that money is distributed fairly and our customers have a high-quality experience. This includes using community guides as well as accommodation as much as possible. Community-based tourism is particularly tricky to get right, so we will ensure the operations are monitored on a regular basis and there is ample chance for our customers to feed back.
Treks and tipping
We use local guides on all our trekking tours and where tips are appropriate they must be in addition to a fair wage. Too often, tourist tips are treated as a top-up to porters’ and guides’ payments rather than as a reward for good service. We aim to be transparent, to ensure that all our porters and guides are given a fair wage and to advise our customers about the appropriate amount to tip.
2. Environmental Responsibility
We believe that the best way to help limit the environmental impact of our tours is to stop wasteful practices at the point of consumption. This means helping our guests to adopt appropriate behaviour such as not littering, reusing plastic water bottles and switching off lights and air conditioning when not in their rooms. We provide advice for customers on our website along with more detailed information and tips in pre-trip documentation.
We compliment this approach by only selling accommodations that follow environmentally friendly practices. All our hotels, guest houses and other accommodation are required to meet these minimum criteria:
• implements water management practices such as reusing wastewater or reducing laundry.
• implements energy saving practices such as solar heating or reducing air conditioning.
• sources food from the local area, especially directly from local farmers/markets.
• provides advice and information to guests about ways to reduce their environmental footprint.
We prefer accommodations that actively reduce their use of plastic and those that use renewable or appropriate technologies to reduce fuel consumption. Some of our hotels and guesthouses incorporate environmentally -friendly design features such as using recycled materials and traditional building techniques.
We have chosen local operators that share our commitment to environmental responsibility and work with them to minimise waste and pollution on our tours. For example, by making sure rubbish is taken back from sensitive areas and providing clean water to refill water bottles. We ask them to help our customers understand the environmental damage they can create through their holidays and through tourism in general and what they can do to mitigate it.
In the UK, The Beyond Tourism Co. minimises its energy and transport emissions by not operating retail premises and by running a virtually paperless office. Our bookings are made by phone or email and customers can opt to receive relevant documentation electronically. Post-trip follow up is also carried out by phone and email.
3. Social responsibility
Awareness and understanding of local culture and the social impacts of tourism goes hand in hand with promoting economic benefits. Respecting and involving people are core principles for our business and we try to have an open and honest relationship with all our ground operators and suppliers to build trust and deliver the best possible service for our customers.
Mutual understanding and respect is particularly important when visiting local communities as our tours are based on real interaction with local people. Our customers will normally be accompanied by a guide that lives in the community, which dramatically reduces the chance of a negative experience for guests and hosts alike. Where other guides are employed, for example on treks or visits to cultural or religious sites, we work with our ground operators to ensure that they are treated well and paid decently. Porters are treated in accordance with the International Porter Protection Group guidelines [ippg.net/trekking-ethics].
In some countries there are specific issue related to tourism, for example child sex tourism in Cambodia or environmental stress at Machu Picchu. We only work with businesses that are committed to tackling these problems by operating responsibly (e.g. campaigning, educating, training).
It is important that tourists play their part in acting responsibly. We provide our customers with tips on local customs, how to behave sensitively and how they can contribute to the destination they are visiting. We also provide information on the social and political situation in country on our website and in pre-trip documentation. We treat both supplier and customers with respect: we will not sell holidays that are not suitable and will always give our best and most impartial advice when choosing a holiday.
We strive to follow the highest level of responsibility in all our work but we are aware that will not always get it exactly right. We take complaints extremely seriously and work with our suppliers to identify and address any issues as quickly as possible. We also seek feedback from our customers in order to improve our trips and will always try to make our products more responsible than they already are.