Responsible Travel Policy

Responsible Travel Policy

Our primary purpose is to introduce people to unique cultural and natural destinations our region, viz. Bhutan, Assam and West Bengal. Therefore we have a responsibility to operate in an environmentally and culturally sensitive manner and to demonstrate to clients and local communities our positive impact in these areas.

Consultation

Nature Tourism-Bhutan’ Responsible Travel Policy is developed in consultation with staff, local communities, suppliers, and conservationists and/or experts where necessary.

Aims

To reduce the negative and increase the positive impacts Nature Tourism-Bhutan’ operational practices have on the social and physical environment within the areas we operate. To inform and demonstrate to staff, suppliers and travelers our commitment to social and environmental best practice.

To differentiate our product from other operators and ‘add value’ to the quality product we already offer. And to create better travel experiences for our customers

Travelers Code of Conduct

• Provide accurate pre-trip information concerning the destination countries specific to a particular trip including the social and political situation.

• Inform travelers why purchasing locally produced goods and services (eg; souvenirs, crafts, meals and guides) from locally owned establishments has a significant beneficial effect for local communities.

• Suggest measures that can reduce water consumption in the destination and why it is important.

• Provide travelers with relevant suggestions to minimize damage to the environment, wildlife and marine ecosystems • Suggest ways to minimize negative impacts on local cultures.

• Suggest destination visits to appropriate local social projects with direct or indirect benefits to the host community

Environmental

Environmental conservation is a central philosophy for our business. It is a basic requirement that we minimize our environmental impact and support sustainable tourism at the destinations we visit.

• Reduce, reuse, recycle – We encourage staff to reuse paper, recycle, and adopt energy efficiency measures. This philosophy applies to both business and personal lives.

• Office based initiatives – As a web based business our staff work from home, and so avoid a daily commute. We use email communication for the majority of our internal and external communication, and other paperless methods of transacting such as net banking. We minimize our use of brochures by posting all information on our website, and avoid ‘glossy/junk mail’ advertising where possible; choosing very focused marketing methods and email instead.

• We educate our clients that it is just as important to conserve water at their destination as it is at home. Our staff and guides adhere to water saving principles.

•We adopt best-practice methods to minimize damage to the environment, wildlife and marine ecosystems we visit. We educate our clients and local suppliers about these methods and encourage them to follow them.

• We support local community initiatives which promote environmental conservation, education and sustainable economic development. Where possible we arrange for our clients to visit this organization and encourage them to support them also.

Economic

We recognize that we have an opportunity to make a positive economic impact on the communities we visit. The key to achieving our aims in this regard is to develop long term, co-operative relationships with our local suppliers and support them in implementing positive employment policies.

• We always employ a full complement of local guides and staff. Where a porter is optional we encourage our clients to opt for the porter to provide employment.

• Where possible we always choose locally owned operators/suppliers which employ local people. In particular, we support local business which can demonstrate superior employment conditions. Our suppliers must offer reasonable working conditions and payment to staff.

• We pay our local businesses a fair price for their goods/services and are reasonable when bargaining.

• The local community projects we support must, where possible, source goods and labor locally and in a fair and reasonable manner. • We encourage our clients to support local business. Eating in restaurants, buying souvenirs, and using services all contribute much needed economic activity. We advise on how to bargain reasonably and choose environmentally sustainable souvenirs.

Social

NTB has an important responsibility when introducing people to a foreign culture which may be very different to anything they have experienced before. We are responsible for ensuring that our clients are safe, and that they are aware of culturally acceptable behavior. We must also ensure that our visit does not have negative social effects on the destination.

• We provide accurate pre-trip information to travelers on the social and political situation in each destination. This includes information relating to personal safety. Clients are also advised to seek independent advice about their destination, particularly medical advice.

• We advise clients on ways to minimize negative impacts on local cultures.

• A local guide accompanies all tour groups.

• We encourage and facilitate clients in visiting appropriate local social projects with direct or indirect benefits to the host community.

Operation

• This Responsible Travel Policy is to be distributed to all staff members, destination suppliers and available to travelers.

• Complaints: Complaints made by a traveler that concern the Responsible Travel Policy or Travelers Code of Conduct should be addressed in the first instant to Karma Jamtsho. If the problem cannot be reasonably resolved, the matter is to be raised with the Office of Nature Tourism-Bhutan. Thimphu. Post Box 673. e-mail: nattouri@druknet.bt

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