The EXO Foundation, apart from channeling donations to carefully selected projects also acts as an advisor to Exotissimo Travel group, helping to define its Responsible Travel Policy and guiding the country teams in its implementation. On the occasion of its 20th anniversary celebrated in Hoi An last month, Exotissimo asked the EXO Foundation to select the most responsible tourism package from a selection submitted by each country.
This award was a good opportunity to remind what responsible tourism is, as many tend to confuse it with charity. Responsible tourism minimizes negative impacts while optimizing positive ones for the destinations and its inhabitants; in social, cultural, economic and environmental terms while providing an in depth discovery and understanding of the destination to the traveler.
The EXO Foundation promotes selection of suppliers where economic benefits accrue to the most disadvantaged through vocational training or by supporting worthwhile causes that preserve the natural and cultural heritage. In this way local economies and small enterprises can benefit.
The tour submitted by Exo Cambodia was noted as the most responsible with maximum benefits to the destination. Highlights of the program included watching a performance of ‘Phare, the Cambodian Circus’, set up in 1994 by young Cambodian refugees returning from camps; a visit to the ‘Aspara Arts Association and dinner at Romdeng, run by former street youth in training.
Both Indonesia and Laos submitted excellent tours where travelers can gain excellent insight of the destinations while contributing in a positive way to society and its development for the better.