It has always been at our heart to preserve local communities’ culture and environment. We ensure our tours are of low impact on natural resources, respectful and observant of local customs and supportive of local economies. We strive to operate in a responsible manner, incorporating the principles of sustainable development in the way we provide for our travelers. Our values are more than just words on a page; they are ingrained in the culture and daily operations of every tour.
In addition, we expect our staff and travelers to demonstrate the principles of responsible travel – respecting people, cultures and local environments; in the distribution of wealth; in good will and cross-cultural sharing; and in contributing to sustainable development.
Below are some guidelines on how you can contribute positively to the local economy, environment and society of the region you are visiting.
Our environmental commitment
• To ensure we’re consistently working towards protecting the environment and using resources in an efficient, fair and responsible way.
• To ensure that our trips are designed in a way that limits the physical impact on the destinations we visit, so that they may be enjoyed by many generations to come.
How are we doing this?
We recognize that climate change is one of the most urgent problems facing our world today. The tourism industry is both impacted by climate change and it’s also a sector that’s a growing contributor to the problem. As a travel company which creates and promotes holidays within the tourism sector, we see it’s our responsibility to ensure that the negative impact we have on global warming is minimized and we work toward sustaining our environment. Therefore, as a business we made a commitment to tackle climate change through the development of our Saving Environment Plan by releasing Carbon as few as possible.
On our trips
The majority of our trips are Carbon Offset – that’s over 500 trips! We measure and offset the main sources of emissions created on our trips by our passengers.
Our trips are also low impact by design. How? We try to use public transport where possible, stay in locally owned and simpler styles of accommodation and eat at locally owned eateries where the food has been locally sourced, therefore reducing food mile emissions.
To minimize carbon emissions on our trips, we make the following considerations:
- Local services – We engage locally-owned and operated services thereby supporting local people and not using long and carbon-intensive supply chains.
- Local transport – We use local public transport wherever we can to reduce fuel usage per passenger. Water Conservation – We support initiatives that encourage conservative use of water and hot water such as low-flow shower roses.
- Local food and goods – We endeavor to include and strongly encourage our travelers to eat locally produced food and goods. This reduces the ’embodied energy’ (energy consumed through production and transport) of the food and goods purchased by our passengers.
- Water bottles – We encourage our passengers to refill a water bottle from water ‘bubblers’ where available to avoid unnecessary purchasing of bottled water and the subsequent waste disposal issues. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 liter plastic bottle takes 2 liters of water and 200ml of oil. Therefore for every 1 liter of water sold, 3 liters of water is used.
- Economic empowerment – Economic empowerment of local communities through tourism can help improve education and health services, water supplies and sanitation and reduce dependence on non-sustainable livelihoods such as deforestation.
- Local employment – We use local leaders and guides so that we learn about the culture and way of life directly from those who live it and put money into local hands and economies. We can particularly learn from indigenous rural communities about their relationship to the land and how they’ve practiced sustainable agriculture for centuries.
- Recycling – our leaders also provide travelers with awareness on how they can practice principles of reduce, reuse, recycle and appropriate waste disposal at their destination.
On our flights
We encourage all customers to offset the most carbon intensive portion of their trip – their flight by booking the air travel with some flight companies who work with Carbon control. The emissions produced from flights are calculated (from departure region to destination region) and the cost of offsetting that flight is then included in the price quoted. Carbon offsets are optional on the airfares they sell, however we do encourage our customers to help us tackle climate change by choosing this option.
So if you book a Carbon Offset Flight through those flight companies, you’ll fly with the knowledge that your environmental impact has been reduced.
In our offices and stores
We adopt the following principles to manage our environmental footprint in our office:
- Save – We save leftover food for some farmers who raise pigs or chicken. We use water filtering to have clean water instead of buying water regularly.
- Reduce – We have significantly reduced paper waste and waste to landfill; many offices adopt a comprehensive recycling plan and we have reduced the number of business trips taken by management and staff on an annual basis.
This is how we’re greening our office spaces:
- We’re trying to use Green Power energy (where available) in our offices.
- ‘Reduce, reuse and recycle’ policies for our paper usage. All office paper and paper products are recycled where possible. Double-sided printing is the default setting on all printers.
- We’re conscious that our brochures consume a lot of paper, so since 2017 we’ve made a plan of an annual tree planting day. Every year we and our travelers plant over 100 trees.
- We are calling for donations for solar power bulbs and then we will send them to some poor families in Vietnam’s remote areas.
- We will organize regular presentations for staff on sustainability matters including topics such as waste reduction, sustainable seafood options and ethically sourced paper.
- We encourage the use of public transport like bus or walking.
In our communities
- We don’t want our presence in the local community to add to the environment problem and need to minimize our impact on the places by practicing waste minimization initiatives whilst on holiday. We can also assist our hosts in making informed decisions in developing social and environmental programs that will benefit future generations.
- Try not to use plastic covered or wrapped foods when fresh options are available. Take your own bags with you when shopping. Tampons and sanitary pads should be taken out of the area and disposed of appropriately. Pick up any rubbish that you see left behind by other travelers. Organic waste such as food scraps should not be dispersed or buried in national parks and other protected areas. This practice may introduce exotic seeds and is not the natural diet of the native animals. Take it out with you. You guide will advise you in this regard.
- Actively try to reduce the ‘consumption’ of plastic bottles by using alternatives. Your options are: in homestay ask if you can refill your bottle with purified water for free or for a small fee. Bring your own water filter, water purification tablets or iodine to purify drinking water.
- When trekking in remote areas, there are sometimes no toilets. So, to answer the call of the nature, we go nature. But, please dispose of appropriately and away from water resources at least 50m.
- Be prudent with fuel and water. Pollution, greenhouse gases and other problems of fossil fuel use are escalating as developing countries strive towards having modern Western appliances, vehicles and production methods. Clean water supplies are diminishing. Some ways to cut energy consumption:
- Air-con in hotel rooms: don’t use unnecessarily or leave on when out of the room. Turn down to ‘fan only’ or off overnight. This is better for avoiding sore throats and colds too!
- Air-con vehicles: short journeys are easily managed with windows open;
- Avoid hot showers where the water is being heated with cut timber or other non-sustainable methods;
- An empty room does not need light. Many newer hotels have the key tag socket systems that prevent this;
- Walk, cycle or use human powered-rickshaws for sight seeing. Avoid taxis when there is a fuel-free or shared transport option like a public bus;
- Do not touch formations when you visit caves, as natural body oils from the fingers hinder the formations’ growth and will discolor the limestone;
- Reduce deforestation by avoiding unnecessary use of scarce firewood. Fuel stoves should be used for cooking on camping trips and we do our best to choose accommodation that uses kerosene, gas or fuel-efficient firewood stoves. Put on warmer clothes rather than stoking a wood fire for warmth;
- On treks when you need to bathe in streams or lakes try to forget about soap for a few days and harmonize with nature! A soap less bathe will still remove sweat! A nail brush and flannel may help! Conventional body soap and shampoo are degradable but it takes time for them to break down and in the interim they may be contaminating water quality for people downstream;
Our cultural commitment
To ensure we’re consistently working towards respecting the culture and preserving the culture of any where we visit. We commit not to harm to the local cultures and customs.
In our community
- Should not use crooking sign to call someone, which is regarded as an impolite and disrespectful action.
- Showing affection in public is considered quite offensive – definitely no kissing! Away from the major urban centers it is extremely rare to see couples holding hands, though it is quite common to see friends of the same sex holding hands.
- It is polite to remove your shoes before entering a house.
- Criticism should only be used when put among praise.
- It is inappropriate to express anger in a raised voice. Becoming angry is embarrassing to the local people with whom you are dealing – they will not be embarrassed for themselves, but for you. “Saving face” is a subtle but important standard of personal dignity. Personal candor in Asia is largely a matter of sensibility and face.
- The ideal demeanor for the Asian travelers is friendly, open and ever ready to answer questions like where you are going? Are you married? How old are you? You will likely be asked questions like these that in a Western society may be considered personal. Be prepared and understand that your local hosts are not being ‘nosey’ but politely interested.
- Always ask permission before taking photographs of people and respect their wishes if they refuse. For example, in some remote areas it’s disrespectful to the dead if you take photos in funeral or the host family’s altar.
- Our tours does not allow travelers to use illegal drugs like opium, marijuana or other illegal drugs while on a trip. Foreigners are not exempt from such penalties if convicted of such a crime. You can be asked to leave the trip if you are found to be using or carrying illegal drugs. The use of alcohol also needs to be carefully considered, especially in smaller villages and tribal regions. In these areas our ‘privileged’ status brings with it a responsibility to promote the good in our cultures and not the excesses.
- Avoid giving Western medicines to our hosts. They may not understand how to apply it. If you are a doctor, it may be better not to reveal your profession too readily, or you might find yourself with a queue of patients and be left in a dilemma. Of course there are exceptions to this rule in the case of emergencies. If a local is seriously injured and in a potentially life threatening situation then they should be given the appropriate first aid treatment which may include medication. However, remain aware of the potential dangers of reactions to drugs and try to get them to medical help as soon as possible.
Our social commitment
- To protect human rights within our sphere of influence and to ensure that all parties impacted by our business including staff, travelers, suppliers, local communities and other stakeholders, are treated with fairness and respect.
- To work with our stakeholders on issues around responsible practices in order to promote justice and equity across our global community and protect our most vulnerable societies.
How are we doing this?
- Providing training to all our leaders on safety and social issues in the areas they operate to help them educate our passengers on matters such as local customs, cultural etiquette, religion, prostitution and child safety.
- Providing HIV/AIDS training to our staff and leaders in high-risk regions.
- Employment and supplier policies which support and encourage fair practices.
- Providing support for many grassroot not-for-profit organizations globally to help advance local communities through The YESD Social Enterprise.
- YESD Travel has specific annual goals to increase annual donations to YESD Social Enterprise’ community fund.
- Visits to community projects on trips to raise awareness and engage passenger support for the projects.
- Organizing guest speakers to regularly speak at our stores and offices to help raise awareness on various social sustainability topics.
- Be aware that it is taboo in some of the communities we visit to conduct an intimate relationship with a local person. Homosexuality is not as accepted in Asia. Ask your guide leader to know more about local taboos.
- The use of prostitutes is completely illegal and we are strongly opposed to any of our travelers visiting prostitutes while in Asia. We never encourage child sexual abuse and human trafficking. Please, report to the local or international authorities if you realize any suspicious prostitution signs.
- YESD Tours supports a number of volunteer projects and charities. Visit our website or ask your tour guide about making donation. We collect clothing, first aid items, stationery children’s books and raise fund and ensure that they go directly to the requested charity or project.
- Do not give to begging children as it reinforces that begging is an acceptable way to make a living for these children. It is best to follow the guidelines set by local people in how they treat beggars in their community e.g. in many places it is considered acceptable to give to the elderly and disabled since there is no social security or other way these people can earn money. Buddhists believe giving to beggars will earn them ‘merit’. Your tour leader can advise you further on this.
- Do not give sweets to children in the villages that we visit. Avoid feeling that you necessarily have to give ‘material‘ things. The best giving can sometimes be shared interactions like a smile, joke, sing-song, dance or playing a game. Giving something of your friendship, time and interest to interact with locals can be the best gift of all.
- Please refuse to buy any souvenirs, food or products made from local wildlife – this includes snake-wine, bear, bats, frogs, turtles and sea horses, which are highly endangered and we should not encourage their demise. Where possible avoid restaurants that make a feature of wild endangered animal species on their menus. If you see an abuse of animals or wildlife, report this to the Education for Nature Vietnam’s (ENV) toll free hotline on 1800-1522 or e-mail them at email@example.com.
Our economic commitment
To ensure our wealth is distributed in a way that’s beneficial to our staff, host communities, suppliers and key stakeholders, while achieving responsible and sustainable growth of YESD Travel and our associated companies.
How are we doing this?
Our trips are designed to ensure that we support local communities by:
- Hiring local leaders and staff where Intrepid operate, therefore contributing directly to local employment and ensuring competitive local remuneration.
- Using locally owned ground transportation and accommodation.
- Recommending local eateries and stores to our passengers.
- Incorporating local public transport into our trips where possible.
- Investing in renewable energy projects which support the local economy through temporary and permanent employment, as well as contributing to the communities’ infrastructure.
- Creating procurement policies.
- Accommodation and Food: We encourage all homestays to use their own products like vegetables and meats, which can promote and develop the local economy and raise income for local households. You should enjoy food there to support the local income and contribute in the local strategy of reduction poverty. Have a look at a menu before ordering food.
How are we doing this?
Responsible travel is about the attitude you take and the choices you make when travelling – to respect and benefit local people, their cultures, economy and the environment! Some of the responsible travel features embedded into our trips include:
- Using public transport where possible
- Staying in smaller-scale locally owned accommodation where possible
- Buying locally produced food and drink, and purchasing souvenirs from local artisans
- Spreading the economic benefits by patronizing a range of suppliers
- Minimizing plastic waste where possible
- Careful management of limited energy and water resources
- Offering real life experiences which promote cross-cultural understanding
- Avoiding the exploitation of the vulnerable – including women, children, animals and endangered species