Can I have a positive impact whilst travelling ? Of course! Everyone at its own level can help tourism to be more sustainable.
Here some advice to follow so you can fully enjoy your travel while respecting the environment and the locals:
It has been almost two years since Images Travel achieved Travelife Partner award. It is therefore time to summarize the actions carried out over the past two years.
In 2017, our actions focused on supporting populations in difficulty, implementing sustainable practices in the agency, and involving one of our trainees with children.
The year 2018 was beneficial for the agency, we improved our practices in the agency, so it was mostly internal actions that took place. We also worked on highlighting homestays in our tours.
As for our 2019 actions, we have focused for the moment on the environmental aspect with our clean-up actions, but the year is not over yet, we hope to be able to add even more new actions to come for the good of our planet.
Over the past two years, we have decided to become involved in the development of responsible tourism, and also in support of local populations and in the preservation and protection of the environment. Here appear only our most consequent actions. We also work hard to integrate sustainable development practices into our day-to-day work management.
Images Travel is willing to set an example to improve the living conditions of people over the long term. Tourism is an activity that allows the country to develop quickly but we must be aware of the risks that our activity causes. It is in this sense that we have the duty to get the message across so that people are informed of what can be done to reduce our impact on different environments.
The 16thand 17thof May, a part of our team, in collaboration with the group of volunteers Trashpackers which aims for clean up as much of the world as possible from its waste, went on the Mekong Delta, in Cai Be, for a day of awareness about the environmental protection.
It is very important to draw the attention of younger generations to the current state of affairs because they have the future of our planet in their hands.
So, we started our day by going to a school in the city to explain to children the importance of protecting nature. After an awareness speech for the youngest, our team, like the kids, got gloves and bags to pick up garbage around the school. We all were captivated by the motivation of the schoolchildto make this place clean and healthy. Despite the heat and the sun, which didn’t give us a break, each of them redoubled their efforts to collect a maximum of waste.
After leaving the children to go on holidays (yes, it was their last day of school …), we embarked on pirogue to continue our collection but on the waters of the Mekong this time! In pairs by pirogue, our mission was to collect a maximum of waste. The observation was overwhelming …
We were shocked to see how much local people do not realize the damage they are doing to their environment, which has once again highlighted the importance of raising awareness about environmental protection.
Despite the fact that our action may seem small compared to the huge amounts of waste on Earth, we know it was not useless, quite the contrary. The children who helped us will be able to talk about it and try to raise awareness, or the inhabitants who have observed us on the Mekong will pay more attention to this river which brings them so many resources …
It was a very enriching experience for the whole team which realized that, even at our scale, we can do something! Sharing it with locals made it even more beautiful. Our awareness was unprecedented and each one opened their eyes to his role.
So, you too, don’t hesitate to give a little bit of your time whether at home or on vacation, to return our planet its past splendour with small actions like ours!
Amsterdam, September 20, 2017. The Travelife Partner award was received today by Images Travel, Vietnam. The award is a recognition for the long-term efforts and frontrunner position of Images Travel regarding sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility.
Images Travel complies with more than 100 criteria, related to an operators’ office management, product range, international business partners and customer information. The Travelife standard is covering the ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility themes, including environment, biodiversity, human rights and labour relations; and is formally Recognised as in full compliance with the UN supported Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.
Images Travel is the 7th company in Vietnam to have reached the Travelife Partner award.
Mr Naut Kusters, manager of Travelife for tour operators, “I am delighted to see that sustainability in the tour operators sector is obtaining momentum. The award of one of the front runners Images Travel will inspire other companies in Vietnam to follow the same path”.
Travelife, which has been established with the support of the European Commission, is the leading international sustainability certification for the travel sector. More than 35 national travel associations are promoting the scheme to their members including ABTA, The British Travel Association and PATA, the Pacific Asian Travel Association. Since 2012, more than 600 Asian companies (of which 60 from Indonesia) have been trained in CSR with the support of the Dutch government CBI program. They are now working step-by-step towards more sustainable operations.
Travelife is a three-stage certification program for tour operators and travel agents: (1) Travelife Engaged; (2) Travelife Partner and (3) Travelife Certified. We were awarded the Travelife Partner (stage 2). The Travelife Partner award is a recognition of our commitment to social and environmental sustainability. We are complying to more than 100 criteria related to sustainability management, office operations, working with suppliers and customer communication. We are working towards further improvements aiming to eventually reach the Travelife Certified stage by 2021.
About Images Travel (www.images-travel.com)
Images Travel is a Destination Management Company (DMC) founded in 2009. The company offers a wide range of services in 4 countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Well-made classic tours with off the beaten track spirit for G.I.T, F.I.T, M.I.C.E and Tailor-made trips. Always with quality and glimpses into local life.
About Travelife (www.travelife.org)
Travelife is a certification system, dedicated to achieving sustainable practices within the tourism industry. It provides companies with realistic sustainability goals, tools and solutions to implement positive change within their businesses and supply chains. Travelife is managed by ABTA – The Travel Association in the UK – and by ECEAT Projects – a not-for-profit organisation based in The Netherlands. Travelife has two key focuses:
Travelife for Tour operators and Travel agents: the system provides online training and practical tools for sustainability management and certification. The training and online tools are suitable for tour operators and travel agencies of any size and cover all management aspects of the travel company business including office operations, the supply chain, destinations and consumers. Upon submitting a report in compliance with the Travelife standard (based on an independent onsite audit), the company can obtain the “Travelife Certified” status.
The Travelife standard for Tour operators and Travel agencies is based upon the full Corporate Social Responsibility themes, including labour conditions, human rights, environment, biodiversity and fair business practices. The management requirements are compatible with EMAS and ISO 14001. The system is supported by more than 35 national travel associations to further its implementation among members.
Images Travel is committed to promoting sustainability and this in all its aspects. Our main goal is to protect our destination, its environment, its culture, and its traditions. We are engaged in promoting good sustainability throughout our suppliers, the products we choose and throughout the measures taken at our offices. We want this policy to be reflected by the behavior of our customers.
Make activities more sustainable:
Here is a non-exhaustive list of simple actions that can be implemented to reduce carbon emissions during a tour.
IMAGES TRAVEL has carefully selected many different addresses in all of our countries for theses incredible experiences, simple accommodation but memories for life.
Homestays are a great way to help the local communities to have an extra source of income and share a bit of their culture with travellers.
By spending some nights with the locals, your customers will get an excellent opportunity to get closer to local population, to learn more about their culture,traditions and their way of life.
Some of our homestays:
1.Homestay in Nghia Lo :
Discovering the daily life of the Thai ethnic minority really is an exotic experience. Stay in a house on stilts, a traditional house of this ethnic minority and attendance to the day to day activities.
2. Homestay in Hoi An :
Spend the night in a lovely family of the center of Vietnam in comfortable accommodations. This family has rearranged their property in order to accommodate guests. Private accommodations but meals in the family garden in the middle of an authentic village with its dense river network.
3. Homestay in a charming cottage in Cho Lach (Mekong Delta) :
For those who want comfort or charming nights mixed with discovery of the local life, we suggest to spend the night in a charming cottage in Cho Lach, off the beaten track village in the Delta. A truly authentic place, delicious cuisine and warmth of the Mekong Delta inhabitants.
Located in the nord of Vietnam, Xom Ai village has recently developed a homestay program with the help of IMAGES TRAVEL. Many of our partners have been sending groups to this village through us, considerably improving the life of its inhabitants. “We just gave a fishing rod, not a fish”, explained Mr. Toan NGUYEN, director of IMAGES TRAVEL who manages this operation to help the local communitie. The villagers are encouraged to organize traditional shows, prepare meals, rebuild toilets… our hope is that they can accommodate more tourists to earn money but always “keeping their pride”. This project really is about sharing.
Since 2010, our DMC (destination management company) travel agency, IMAGES TRAVEL is committed in a solidarity process towards Huong Duong Orphanage located in few kilometres from the city of Can Tho in the Mekong Delta. For the anecdote, “Huong Duong” means “sunflower”, a nice image full of promises which makes think about the fulfilment and the personal development of the children in a natural environment.
The orphanage takes care of 30 to 40 children aged between 3 and 22 years. They live in a community and in a joyous and relaxed atmosphere. They go to school either in the morning or in the afternoon or more for the olders. Their schedule is well busy as they get up at 5 am to have a good breakfast, take part in a sport class and begin with the housework. The children learn how to be self-sufficient from the earliest days. Then it is time for class or the homework supervised by the nanny, Mrs Thu. Back from school, the children enjoy their time together to have fun before having dinner. Around 7 or 8 pm, the children go to bed and have sweet dreams.
During the first year, with the support of Salaün Holidays, a partner with who we collaborate since forever, we financed and implemented the building of a big classroom and a new fitted kitchen. In 2014, the roof and the ground for the boys’ bedroom have been totally rebuilt as well as the bathroom.
When this project ended, we decided to sustain our momentum. We endeavoured to renovate the library and to improve the educational and sport content. Indeed, we set up classes of Vovinam Viet Vo Dao, a Vietnamese martial art; but we also make our interns step in this project: they give French classes to the children and have some fun with them.
Finally, to let the tourists be a part of this, we offer them the occasion to visit the orphanage and to meet the children accompanied with Mrs Thu. Thus, the travellers can communicate with the children eager to learn few words of French via the guide. Often, the donations of the tourists give the children the opportunity to spend great time or to get supplies for school.
We would like to add that this intervention is not profitable for our travel agency. We let the tourists take part in this project only for the reasons above. We also want to warn the travellers that this orphanage is not a zoo, behave yourself decently and do not expect or demand anything from the children as they will not from you.
Volunteer days in Hoa Mai school (Can Tho).
The orphanage Hoa Mai Can Tho (Chau Thanh district, Hau Giang province) was established on October 27th 1993 with the support of ASSORV organization. For 20 years, there has been 112 orphans fed by the Hoa Mai school. Today, the orphanage helps about 40 orphans to go from primary school to university.
Frequenting this place each year, IMAGES TRAVEL organized a volunter’s day that took a place on December 31st 2013 helping with the waste management, the renovation of toilets and the organization of French courses for children attending Hoa Mai school.
The goal of our solidarity action at Le Binh school is to help children from the Mekong Delta to learn French.
With the support of SALAUN HOLIDAYS, IMAGES TRAVEL has organized a project of solidarity at this school. Its objective is to support and assist Le Binh school with its curriculum.
We chose Le Binh High school in Cai Rang in Can Tho city. It is a very poor school located nearby the famous floating market well-known by tourists. This project was about to build a new school, and also put some new lights to improve conditions.
“Tourism is now developing, if young people receive a good education, especially in languages, they can all benefit from this developpement and find a jobs according in the tourism business, which means stay and work in their native country.”
From January 2011, the first concern was the construction of two classrooms : one reserved for teaching French and it turned out to be used for four different classes, the other room was used as a general library. The second part will involve tourists who are visiting the Mekong Delta. Their participation will offer children all the necessary material to learn and attend class: books, notebooks, pens … Finally, Salaün Holidays provided the school with more expensive equipment (computers, projectors) and, above all, will grant a Scholarship to one or two top students whose families do not have the means to pursue their studies, but which show a real desire to learn and succeed. These scholarships will be renewed over several years.