Southeast Asia’s largest Destination Management Company is spearheading responsible travel and leading the way in international sustainability across the industry.
June 23, 2015, Bangkok – At a ceremony in PATA Headquarters, EXO Travel received the much coveted ‘Travelife Certification’ award from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Janet Salem, Programme Officer on Sustainable Consumption and Production), and Mario Hardy CEO of PATA, recognising their long-term efforts as pioneers of sustainability and corporate, social and environmental responsibility.
The accolade was for EXO Travel’s Cambodia and Vietnam offices.
EXO Travel CEO Olivier Colomès was delighted with the news “At EXO Travel, we are really proud to have reached this important milestone; as a major company it meant getting over 300 members of our team throughout Cambodia and Vietnam committed to the comprehensive and demanding requirements of Travelife. We committed to undertaking Travelife certification in early 2014 because it is the most comprehensive scheme available, and perfectly in tune with our core values, dedicated to improving the ethics and contribution of the tourism industry towards the sustainable development of our wonderful destinations and their people.
This latest achievement is the continuation of a great adventure that started 3 years ago under the guidance of the EXO Foundation, and which has become a continuous commitment integrated into our daily routines. Everyone involved in the process can look upon the certification with pride, and we are excited to take what we have learned here across all of our destinations. Most of all, we are enthusiastic about spearheading change across the sector at large, and taking a pioneering role in the movement towards truly responsible travel.”
Christine, EXO Foundation Director adds
“CSR, including Travelife are top topics on EXO Travel agenda they are taking a serious approach about how travel business impact people and the places it touch. This is demonstrated by the establishment of the EXO Foundation, the dynamism and enthusiasm of our country’s Sustainability teams (S. Teams) conducted by the Exo Foundation who developed comprehensive documentation, guidelines and processes.
I chose to advise Travelife certification to EXO Travel, because it is the most inclusive existing scheme which is in perfect line with on one hand our core values and commitment towards Scaling for Excellence in providing experiential tours and, on the other hand our desire to influence the overall Travel Industry by embarking all stakeholders along the value chain and raising ethical and social standards as well as environmental performance.
It provided us with an independent framework and a toolbox allowing to pursue an in depth and rigorous evolution of the corporate social and environmental responsibility across all departments within EXO company. All staff have been involved a way or another at their own level; all departments changed their procedures to reduce printing, waste and energy consumption, the maid uses special in house natural recipes thus eliminating chemical cleaning products, the product department assesses the level of responsibility of our suppliers in a more systematic way following established guidelines, operations disseminating codes of conduct for drivers. We also involved the supply chain, training guides on childsafe and other sustainability issues, sharing best practices with hotels and of course with travellers to ensure their holidays is truly authentic and beneficial to the destinations.
Most of all if EXO march towards sustainability was not clearly understood and underestimated in the beginning by many, it is now considered as a major source of pride for all staff as it created a sense of belonging to a wider scheme meant to benefit their countries, their children and us all. As I always say every body is willing to do well.
Once people understand the WHY and the negative impacts of such or such activity and you design for them alternatives then they are ready for a mind set switch. The most difficult is to change habits, we had to take a very strategical approach to reach that point. Soon people almost forget they were thinking differently before; and once this mind shift occurs and they see they gain recognition and exposure for their good actions, on top of the satisfaction of contributing to a better world, they do have their own ideas, initiatives, it is like a snow ball effect.
We are happy to spread our best practices and experience with other companies in Asia as pioneering actors of change for the course of the sector at large.”
Next countries to be certified are Thailand, Laos and Myanmar followed most likely by Indonesia
Janet Salem from UNEP commented that “EXO Travel have set an example of how business success, client satisfaction and sustainability can go hand in hand. They have paved the way for other companies in Asia to follow and to make a real difference for the industry at large.”
Naut Kusters, manager of Travelife for tour operators, “I am delighted that Exo Travel and Khiri Travel are the first South East Asian companies who fully comply to the Travelife Certified criteria. The awarded companies are the frontrunners. It is our aim to change the industry at large. More and more Asian tour operators take an active approach towards sustainability.”
Travelife, which was originally established with the support of European Travel associations, is the leading international sustainability certification across the industry. Achieving certification requires compliance with a total of 229 criteria, among which 150 are compulsory measures, covering the company’s office management, product range, supply chain and customer information. The Travelife standard integrates the ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility themes, including environmental efforts, biodiversity, human rights and labor relations; and is formally recognized to be in full compliance with the UN supported Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. Worldwide, 35 national travel associations are promoting the scheme to their members in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.