Responsible Travel Policy
Our Local Tour is an innovative tour operator with a focus on responsible travel and sustainable tourism. Our goal is to develop and promote authentic travel experiences which will bring the greatest possible benefit to travellers, the host population and local tourism businesses and entrepreneurs. We aim to respect the environment, culture, societies and religions of the communities and areas that we visit, and we encourage all our staff and partners to take an active interest in responsible travel and sustainable tourism.
Responsible Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists take responsibility by taking action to make tourism more sustainable.
We strive to generate greater economic benefits for local people and enhance the well-being of the communities we visit whilst still providing a positive and rewarding experience for our customers. Our business aims to minimise the negative social, economic and environmental impacts of tourism.
There is no off the shelf solution. We understand that the responsibility and action needed in a particular location will depend upon the local environment and culture. Tourism is one of the most important and largest industries on the planet. It accounts for 11% of the world’s GDP and 12% of its exports. It employs more people worldwide than any other industry, with millions of families relying on tourism for their daily needs.
Our type of individual, off-the-beaten track tourism can bring benefits to many communities, help preserve the environments we travel to see, and provide authentic and positive social exchanges.
Our Local Tour and our approach to responsible tourism
1. Respect for the local communities that we visit
It is important that we always respect the local customs and culture and abide by the laws and etiquette of each region. Our customers will be encouraged, through our literature and through our local teams, to act in a socially responsible way. We provide our customers with guidelines on how to respect the environment, culture, societies and religions of the communities and areas that we visit.
All our tours operate in a way that encourages positive cultural exchanges.
2. Working to support the local economy
Our Local Tour will always try to use small locally owned hotels, guest houses and homestays to provide accommodation. Wherever possible we use local businesses to provide activities, ensuring money is put directly back into the communities we visit. Our strategy is to develop long term relationships with our local suppliers to ensure that the economic benefit is ongoing and continuous. There must also be a visible benefit to the local communities.
We ensure that local suppliers and operators receive a fair rate for their services and support and encourage fair employment practices.
3. Preserve and enhance the environments in which we travel
Our Local Tour recognises that climate change is one of the most urgent problems facing our world today and the tourism sector is a growing contributor to the problem. Travel and tourism are responsible for around 5% of global CO2 emissions. Our challenge is to prepare for a low-carbon society by further reducing our environmental impacts, while ensuring we preserve tourism’s social and economic benefits – both for the host community and for our customers
Working with all relevant local bodies and authorities, we aim to help preserve or improve the environment and deliver a long-term benefit for the host community. All our suppliers should have or be developing green practices. Reduction of the use of single use plastic water bottles will be actively encouraged. We encourage all our customers not to use single use plastic bags and bring along their own shopping bags or ‘bags for life’.
There are responsibilities at home. Running our office in a responsible manner and monitoring and reducing our energy usage as well as recycling is part of the culture we are developing.
We recognise the need to fly to a destination but thereafter we will encourage travelling overland rather than using internal flights, to minimise carbon emissions. Where possible we will promote the use of train rather than plane to reach a destination.
4. We respect Human Rights
We actively discourage the exploitation of local people and will only engage with suppliers that demonstrate a duty of care towards the people they employ. Our Local Tour actively encourages tour leaders and guides to disclose any concerns they may have to us. All suppliers must respect elementary human rights such as non-discrimination, freedom of assembly, no forced labour and no child labour.
It is explicitly forbidden for any participation in or endorsement of commercial sexual activities, exploitative sexual activities or drug use on our trips, from staff or customers.
We do not engage with suppliers that exploit children in tourism. Children are not a tourist attraction and therefore we do not offer visits to schools, day-care centres and orphanages. We do not offer excursions or volunteering with vulnerable people.
If customers want to help children in need in the areas they are visiting, we advise them to make a donation to a non-governmental organisation which is focussing on special target groups, such as children, orphans, handicapped persons etc.
5. The promotion of animal welfare
Our aim is to help protect animals from exploitation, neglect, and cruelty. We do not offer elephant riding on any of our tours or holidays. The best place to view wildlife is in the wild whilst minimising our impact on the wildlife concerned. We actively discourage the buying of items made from any protected wildlife.
We advise customers not to purchase any type of coral and products made of corals as well as all big shells, ivory and products made of ivory, cactuses or orchids, Chinese medicines, any products made of the skins of tortoises, crocodiles, snakes, big cats, butterflies and parrots. For more information please visit www.cites.org
6. Our Responsible tourism policies are monitored on an ongoing basis
Our Local Tour is proactive in raising awareness of sustainability issues with our customers and on social media we encourage interaction with customers on sustainable travel issues. To achieve our goals we need customers’ support both through the purchases they make and the personal actions they take.
Sustainability is still not the major deciding factor for most people when they choose a holiday, but it is in the interests of our destinations and the environment that it becomes a strong influencing factor.
It is important that we actively seek out feedback about our responsible tourism practices. The environmental impact and any customer comments are monitored and acted upon on a regular basis. The ethos of responsible travel is central to what we do and is promoted throughout our organisation. We actively communicate with our office staff and local partners on environmental and social issues, through team meetings, direct mail, newsletters and social media.
An annual review of our responsible tourism policy takes place to ensure that it is in tune with current needs.
TRAVEL SMILE PROMISE
We carefully select all the local tour suppliers that will provide your services, so we’re sure you’ll have a great time. In fact, we’re so sure of it that we put our money where our mouth is! At Our Local Tour, this is known as the ‘Travel Smile Promise’. This is a customer satisfaction policy based on trust, honesty, and common sense rather than a tonne of intricate terms and conditions. The lawyers insist that we must have those terms and conditions despite the Travel Smile Promise and they are here is you really want a look through –
What is the Travel Smile Promise?
Have you have ever bought a quality piece of clothing? Then you will know that it comes with a warranty. If a zip breaks or there is poor stitching, the compnay would either patch it or send you a new one, no questions asked. Although travel is not quite so straightforward, we strive to adopt the same mindset when providing our ‘Travel Smile Promise’.
Here’s how it works: First, if you have an issue while you are on your tour, get in touch with your local tour operator. Explain to them the issues and why you feel unsatisfied with the experience or service you are receiving. It is important that you point out the problem and give them a chance to fix the situation while you are still away. Without having done that, it’s much harder to put things right, and it will be taken into consideration when assessing the case.
In 99% of cases, speaking to the local tour operator will solve the issue. In the unlikely event that you have spoken to them and they cannot solve your issues, then contact us at Our Local Tour. We’ll get all the information we need from you, then speak with the local tour operator to confirm the issues and figure out what has gone wrong.
If your trip has in fact obviously gone wrong or it was not as advertised, and the issue was within either our or the host’s control, we will negotiate a refund with you that is proportionate to the severity of the issue.
We and our local tour operators pride ourselves on the happiness of our customers, and the ‘Travel Smile Promise’ is designed to hold us accountable to that. If in the very small chance that you need to make a claim, simply fIll in Our Contact Us Form and we’ll be right on the case.