#TravelEnjoyRespect – Join the movement! Over the years and in the frame of its Travelife certification, EXO Travel has developed several programs to help promoting & mainstreaming responsible tourism, ask us for more details on the below initiatives: info@exofoundation.org

 

Are you wondering how you can promote responsible tourism at your level? Do you want to spread the word for people to become responsible and conscientious travellers? Are you looking out for the best ways to respect and support local people while travelling? Do you want to do your bit to protect the planet?

Read on for our insiders tips!

 

  • How to be responsible travellers?

    Whether you’re headed to the beach or the mountains to get lost in nature or to visit a big city, follow our simple tips.

     

    • Select your destination & choose the best way to get there!

     

    How far you would need to travel. Most forms of transport contribute to climate change. To minimise your holiday emissions, stay longer in a destination, take a leisurely pace, keep it easy and enjoy it!

    Look at responsible options. Many travel companies now offer holidays which support sustainable development. Whether it is contributing to protecting the local environment, nature conservation or providing financial support to local communities, there are many choices to travel responsibly.

    Can you drive or take the train to your destination instead of flying? Train is always a great experience with a local touch, an unforgettable memory of a lifetime! If you must fly, choose airlines with higher occupancy rates and a more efficient aircraft. You can even offset your carbon footprint  through EXO Travel’s partnership with Nexus for Development and the projects we actively support.

     

    • Choose the right place to stay & protect it

     

    Ask for sustainable hotels and other accommodations with effective environmental management systems, that help to ensure the well-being of their employees, support local projects and the preservation of cultural heritage. EXO Travel displays a collection of eco-friendly and/or socially aware accommodation across Asia  on our website.There are also online booking systems offering this same feature

    Conserve water. Use a refillable water bottle, buy sterilising water devices/pills before your trip it will help you to drink safe water easily and reduce the use ofplastic bottled water. Bring your personal care products from home, it will help you to protect your skin during your travel and to protect local ecosystems. In hotels, place the ‘green’ card on your bed or your towels on the racks, to reuse them during your stay!

    Use energy responsibly. Running air-conditioning too low will cause you a sore throat and dehydrate your body! The recommended temperatures vary between 23 & 26 degrees celsius. Before leaving your room, have a ‘responsible’ checklist ready and tick off the following: Air-conditioning off, lights off, water taps off, refillable bottles & bags in backpack, room key card in your hands and ready to go!

    Refuse – Reuse – Recycle it’s easy especially with newspapers, magazines and your own beverage containers! They can be helpful during the rest of your trip, keep them handy. With your own equipment you can easily reduce your plastic footprint! Why not investing in a nice bamboo straw on your travel or bring your stainless straw from home and refuse single use plastic items such as wet wipes? You will truly contribute in reducing tonnes of plastic waste.

    On nature treks,  go with a nature guide to help you to stay on trails and public footpaths without the fear of getting lost. Keep the natural environment  as you have found it, pack up your waste, leave plants untouched and let wild animals hunt for food!

     

    • Buy souvenirs that give twice

     

    Want to bring back a nice souvenir to your loved ones? Buy from adults rather than children and whenever possible from charitable shops to support local people! You can find here a list of responsible shops available in Asia.

    Instead of buying products made from wildlife or animals such as body parts like tortoise-shell, ivory, or coral, that could have been made illegally and may get you into a lot of trouble, look for  locally-made handicrafts or products made from bamboo, rattan and eco-friendly materials which are very trendy now.

    Bargain with a smile at local markets, it will get you the best deals! In Asia, vendors like to bargain and discuss prices to interact further with people, take it easy and enjoy the game! The best price is always the one you are ready to pay for.

    Find more information here!

    • Can travellers visit a school/orphanage ?

      An increasing number of travellers are requesting to visit orphanages, schools or children centers with a sincere willingness to do good  by supporting education and poverty alleviation. Unfortunately what may seem on the surface to be a good deed is turning into a permanent part of ‘tours’ and becoming ‘tourist attractions’. This ends up diverting these centers from their original purpose, which is to educate and provide care to children.

      UNICEF, Friends International and an increasing number of children organisations are now campaigning to stop these tours. Research work  from professional organisations which work closely with disadvantaged children and families, such as Friends International, APLE and UNICEF, actually show that:

      Short-term visits to orphanages or children centers (including volunteer tourism) can be harmful to a child’s development and emotional balance, especially when a child is already vulnerable. Since through direct interaction, children can get attached to volunteers who then leave, over and over again. It may create dependency on tourists’ hand-outs (candies, money, etc.). Moreover, visitors can be a distraction to children in a learning environment.

      To add, visit at schools, orphanages or children centers can actually contribute to unethical businesses which exploit children and the separation of children from their family. Reason being, what these ‘Orphanages’ actually claim to be a safe haven for children from poor and uneducated familiies, have become lucrative, profit-making businesses that puts the safety of children on the line and exposes them to the risk of physical and sexual abuse.

      In 2012, EXO Travel made the decision to cease all visits and short-term volunteering in schools, orphanages and other children’s centers. Kindly understand that EXO does not discourage  any donation to trustworthy schools, but direct interactions with children for the reasons listed above

      We work closely with non-profit organisations – supporting disadvantaged and underprivileged children – to design activities throughout which travellers can learn about the causes and support beneficiaries especially families and communities at large. Your desire to help will be honoured and we are pleased to guide you to ensure your donation truly help others.

      “Children are not Tourist Attractions”You can be a responsible traveller by experiencing your trip and helping save children in countries you visit!

      Find more information here!

    • Can travellers buy or give money to children?

       

      Street children sellers and beggars are common occurrence in Asia. Many scour the streets day after day in order to earn a few dollars. Sadly, these children are often exploited by local mafias or, by their own family and are forced to go out to sell products or begg instead of attending school or enjoying their childhood.

      As a traveller, when you encounter children begging or selling, you often immediately want to offer something to help. Although you might think that buying from or giving kids money, candy, gifts, books and even food might help them, it is in fact what keeps them on the streets away from education and locks them in a cycle of poverty.

      As a matter of fact, the more income gained from working on the streets, the less hope that these children have of attending school. Therefore, we recommend you to follow these simple guidelines:

      • Instead of giving money directly to a child, support a community initiative.
      • Instead of buying a souvenir from children, buy from their parents/adults.
      • Instead of paying for unsolicited performances, enjoy a lunch/dinner at a vocational training restaurant.

      The right choice is to always buy products from adults only. Only when they realise that they earn more than their children, will they no longer let their children beg or sell anymore.

      If you wish to help alleviate poverty and provide better life opportunities for children and their families, we recommend you do it through registered organisations. The ultimate goal is not to turn away from caring for needy children, but to make sure that acts of compassion are actually helpful and loving.

      Find more information here!

    • Can travellers take pictures of local people?

      Photos are perfect souvenirs to  keep your travelling memories…If you find yourself with the opportunity to take a good photograph, but you are unsure if it is allowed or if local customs permit it, then simply ask politely. It shows your respect to local people, their culture and your politeness.

      If they don’t speak English, you can show them your camera and see if they agree. If they don’t, please abide to their wishes and do not push the issue or offer money.

      If the photo involves a young child, ask the mother or father, a simple nod will be considered as a permission and will be highly appreciated by locals.

      If you are located near military installations, or anything else concerning the military, please be extra careful. This can be seen as a breach of national security and taking pictures might get you in big trouble!

      If you are travelling to areas where ethnic groups live, usually wearing colourful and beautiful outfits, be sensitive when taking pictures of the people. Many ethinic groups  believe that you take their spirits away when photographing them! If it looks like money might be expected, ask clearly before taking pictures, especially in very touristic areas. Say ‘no money’, to ensure the person you are speaking to clearly understands.

    • Can travellers help local people?

       

      Travellers like you want to do good when they travel to a new destination. Some travellers even have ideas to volunteer in non-profit organisation(s) or to visit local communities. Be a skilled volunteer, offer your competencies to an organisation rather than just your time, whether this is short or long-term volunteering make sure it is impactful!

      Unlike voluntourism (volunteering + tourism), which is where people spend a short time offering a service to a community — social impact travel is when tourists offer their services/skills to a community and the revenue generated from these experiences go back to the local community.

      It creates a sustained and lasting impact in the development of a community. There is a vast array of nonprofit organisations that need your skills in their work.

      Why not donate directly to local causes? You can check out our projects directory of non-profit organisations in Asia or you can contribute to EXO Foundation, 100% of your donation will be directly donated to a trustworthy organisation.

      You want to help & enjoy at the same time? Best way is to book a dinner/lunch in a vocational training center or to shop for souvenirs in community centers or in social enterprises. Find a list here!

    • Can travellers book an animal-friendly activity?

      In order to carefully choose an animal-friendly experience we encourage you to ask your travel agent for responsible options before you arrive at your destination.

      For example, EXO Travel is following the “Global Standards for Animals in Tourism”  these standards are very comprehensive and provide guidance to ensure that animals in tourism are treated with respect. EXO has committed to gradually assess all of our suppliers and to work only with the ones that ensure these five freedoms for animals are carried out:

      Freedom from hunger and thirst

      Freedom from discomfort

      Freedom from pain, injury or disease

      Freedom to express normal behaviour

      Freedom from fear and distress

      It is always very helpful to do your own online research about the health of animals and the reputation of the attraction offered. If you find out that an attraction breaches any of the Five Freedoms for Animals (listed above) or that your own safety is not  assured, we strongly recommend you to look for another provider.

      We believe that visitors should avoid visiting any wild animal attraction if its sole purpose is tourism and not conservation. Tourism activities should always be developed to provide revenue for conservation efforts.

      Regarding activities where animals are being kept in captive, we believe that animals must not be held under cruel circumstances, or trained to perform shows or unnatural tricks such as painting, playing football and more.

      As for animal experiences organised in the wild, it is advised that animals must not be  lured and habituated with food, be touched, chased-after or scared with loud noises or bright lights.

      In Asia, some attractions need to be paid with more attention. These involve wildlife attractions with animals on the brink of extinction, such as tiger temples and elephant camps.

      Find more information here!

    • Can travellers ride an elephant?

      An elephant encounter is one of the most magnificent activity when travelling in Asia. Unfortunately, Asian elephants are an endangered species and the population is declining at a rapid rate due to loss of their natural habitat. There is a growing movement against elephant rides and some Tour Operators have decided to completely ban them from their tours.

      EXO Travel considers that it is not quite fair towards mahouts and local communities whose livelihoods depend on elephant activities. By completely banning elephant activities from their tours, it  affects not only the owners who will be deprived of their main revenue, but also the feeding and proper care of the elephants.

      At EXO, we recommend a more sensitive approach and we have worked with specialists organisations, in order to carefully select elephants camps where their welfare is a priority. As a traveller, doing your research on elephant camps before visiting them will be really helpful!If you see an elephant forbidden to eat grass, walking on concrete, under the sun, carrying over 150 kgs, or performing unnatural activities such as painting, playing football, being disabled, pregnant or sick etc., please opt for another venue!

      When riding, make sure the elephant caretaker provides the animal with unlimited access to a variety of food with a high proportion of natural ingredients and water. Ask the caretaker to provide water, and shade when not working if it seems not to be immediately available for the elephants.

      Find more information here!

    • Can travellers touch or feed animals?

      We are confident about the fact that under no circumstances should any wild animal, fish, etc.be fed, as it is likely to disturb their natural diet and health, as well as distort their natural social behaviour. Personal safety is another good reason for limiting these interactions.

      Touching wild animals is also dangerous for you, as animals may bite or transmit diseases to you. Unfortunately, small animals may die because of your touch, however soft, because they are more sensitive to human diseases. As a matter of fact, touching wild animals often results in aggressive reaction from the animal  and once habituated to humans, they become an easy targets for hunters.

      What about taking pictures of animals? World Animal Protection has released an interesting « “Wildlife Selfie code” », check it out before your next trip!

      Wildlife encounters or viewing activities are often a ‘memorable’ highlight of one’s travel experience. Your visits to National Parks (Terrestrial  & Marine) mostly support conservation efforts and numerous non-profit organisations that work on managing rescue and rehabilitation centers for animals that are worth supporting through your visits.

      Visiting an attraction offered by a provider that has been certified or assessed as responsible is truly helping to support those who are caring and nurturing animals.The good news is that by making a  responsible choice, you can encourage and support wildlife conservation.

      Find more information here!

    • Can travellers reduce their environmental footprint?

      While enjoying your stay in one of Asia’s most beautiful National Park or reserve, you can definitely help to protect Mother Earth!

      In limestone caves, what you see has taken thousands of years to shape into these stunning colourful forms. f you touch these formations with your fingers, you will leave your natural body oils behind that will hinder their growth and discolour the limestone.

      Hungry? Cook your meal on a fuel stove rather than using scarce firewood, it will be quicker to heat up and it will save trees! If you are staying on a beach, limit bonfires to useful purposes, and collect all charcoal residues for the perfect morning photo-shoot of this amazing white sand beach!

      When snorkelling, be aware of corals. A cut from them is easily infected and it is safer for you to avoid touching them. By doing so, you will also protect their formations without hindering their growth.

      If you want to enjoy watching colourful corals & shells while snorkeling, let them live underwater not around your neck or ankle! It is also possible to encourage locals to stop selling them to tourists by not buying them. Locals sometimes use dynamite to collect corals which are harmful to the marine ecosystem. andIf they don’t get income from selling these kind of souvenirs, they will soon leave them in their natural environment.

      Lastly, have you thought about bringing your own organic soap and shampoo and washing detergent? It will turn out to be very useful on treks or in remote villages, as your skin might react badly to local products! When you need to bathe or wash your clothes in streams or lakes, using your own eco-friendly amenities can help to protect your skin and the natural eco-systems.

      Find more information here!

     

    Terima kasih, Kop Jai, Cảm ơn, Orkun, Khob Khun, Kyay su Tin bar De, Thank You!