Unfortunately, Covid-19 made it possible for us to offer very few trips in 2020. In the one-way trips we did at the beginning of the year, we continued our sustainable efforts. Below are some of our achievements over the past year:
Reducing the use of single use plastic
We managed to convince all our hotel partners to put refill stations with potable water in their hotel. This allows our guests (and other guests as well) to refill their own bottles instead of buying plastic water bottles for single use. We continue our mission as ambassador for ‘Refill My Bottle’. Convincing hotels and restaurants and other companies to sign up as refill stations. We also promote this to our suppliers and partners. We plan to do even more promotion in 2021. Together with 2 of our European partners we are having a women’s cooperative in Chitwan make carrier bags as a welcome gift for our customers. In this way we want to put an end to plastic bags for single use. In October 2020 we signed the Pledge against plastic in tourism. We engage to reduce and eliminate plastics in tourism.
We are working with and looking for even more small-scale, family-run accommodations and community-run home stays. We continue to encourage our accommodation providers to make their accommodations more sustainable. To this end, we have recently started sending them 4 newsletters per year with tips and links to websites of interest to them.
Our bike we bought last year is still available for our staff. So they have a healthier alternative to travel. Our transport company and their drivers were given a refresher workshop on sustainable driving and what their code of conduct entails. The precautions for Covid-19 were also discussed.
We still advise our clients to travel on the road instead of taking domestic flights. We only include flights in our travel proposal if it is practically impossible or unsafe to do the itinerary by road.
We promote a number of activities organized by either local NGOs or by marginalized individuals or communities. By including them as an option in our travel plans, our clients are encouraged to do some of these activities. This year we have encouraged ethical activities with elephants, such as a Happy Hour or an elephant walk, where you walk behind an elephant in its natural habitat. After checking on the spot, we are convinced that this is a great way to create awareness around this theme.
Training of our staff
Our freelancers have received extra training on sustainable topics. They were also further encouraged to follow Travelife’s online training courses. Our eldest son started as an intern in our company and also attended all the training courses of Travelife. He will be further trained to fulfill the role of sustainability manager in the future. The guides followed an online training on Covid-19. In our company they received additional training on this topic. This training covered in detail what a journey in the light of corona will look like and what the symptoms of Covid-19 are!
In 2020 we were also able to welcome two trainees from the BUAS in Breda, the Netherlands. Kim helped for 10 weeks with the SEO of our new website, Angela worked for 20 weeks with us on our marketing plan and made our social media posts for 2021. Working with interns is a very useful way to exchange ideas and knowledge. It is also great to be able to show them that a small scale local Nepalese agency can work in a sustainable way.
Giving back – donations
After our decision last year, that we want to make a donation to 2 NGO’s every year, we did this again this year. It is true that we filled this in a little different. During the lock-down in Kathmandu we donated food in the region of Kathmandu where our office is located. With our donation, more than 80 day laborers could fill their stomachs for one day. In addition, we actively participated in a fundraising campaign. We collected money to buy food for the 2 villages where the majority of our guides and porters come today, Bulde & Thulo Parsel. You can read more about this campaign here. We have not only encouraged past customers, but also other people to donate through our social media channels.
We are still actively involved as a consultant from the private sector in a creative Think Thank from Plan International, among others. The goal is to get more young women into tourism, and to find ways to train and motivate them.
Action against child abuse in tourism
Since July 2020 we are a member of The Children’s Code against child abuse in tourism. We have further trained our staff in this area and implemented it in all our other documents. There is a clear policy and procedure in our company: we do not tolerate any child abuse.