We have developed this policy for ourselves, our customers and our partners. This document provides specific guidelines about sustainability.
We have divided our sustainable development plan in 5 different themes;
- Carbon Management
- Destination Nepal
- Local staff
- Nepalese society
- Our customers
1. OUR CARBON MANAGEMENT
We are aware that wherever we go we are having an impact on the environment. We try to minimize this impact and, where possible, engage in projects and activities that not only make the environment sustainable but contribute to improving it.
We run our office in a responsible manner by using fair-trade products, reducing our energy usage, as well as recycling. By developing our website and electronic literature, we limit the amount of paper materials we produce. We provide our clients with an online itinerary and with the link to an application they can download.
Sustainable waste management works with three objectives: reduce, reuse and recycle. We try to produce as little waste as possible and separate glass, paper, toner/ink and batteries so they can be recycled.
100% of lightning is energy efficient. All equipment is switched off after office hours (not on ‘standby’). We don’t use A/C, the use of an electric fan is limited.
The mobility of the employees consists of the travel between home and work and for business purposes. We stimulate our employees to use public transport or walk to get to work.
Use of Transport
Nepal Inside Out tries to ensure that vehicles used on tours should not cause more than average pollution.
We try to limit domestic flights during our trips. However, in Nepal, a domestic flight is often the only way to get somewhere safely. If a domestic flight is not necessary to get somewhere safe, we don’t propose it to our clients.
Our ground transportation operator is actively encouraged that they have greater fuel efficiency by ensuring that their fleets are well maintained, and by requiring drivers to switch off engines when vehicles are stationary.
In 2020 and 2021 there were several joint initiatives that encouraged tourism businesses to take more climate action. We signed the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency and the Glasgow Declaration in 2021. We are in the middle of designing a detailed climate action plan, and will work towards carbon reduction in the coming years.
2. DESTINATION NEPAL
We know that the travel industry has both positive and negative impacts on communities and the natural environment in Nepal. A lot however depends on how these impacts are managed. We are committed to work towards offering travels that benefit local livelihoods and protect the environment.
This is fundamental to preserving the quality of our travels in the years to come.
In the past, we orally introduced environmental and social contractual standards for local suppliers. On a regularly basis we checked if they made progress in their sustainable efforts.
We started by sending our most of our suppliers written codes of conduct with environmental and social standards that we expect them to follow. From the end of 2022 onwards, there is a link in each reservation mail to this code of conduct and to good practices for accommodations.
We prefer small scale family hotels which work in a sustainable way and have an independent accreditation. However, in Nepal the number of accredited accommodations is very low to non- existent. We started working intensively with one of the certified accommodations and will do so the coming years.
However, we interact with our suppliers and make them aware of small sustainable efforts they can do. We provide them with a code of conduct and with a list of best practices via a link in the reservation email.
Sustainable projects during our trips
We aim to include in every trip we organize at least one visit to a project which directly supports the local economy or nature. We encourage our staff to find new initiatives and projects and communicate about them. We give clients suggestions to visit some fair-trade shops, farmer markets and some social/vegetarian/vegan restaurants. We add a map with some of those in their travel itinerary.
We advise our clients to limit the amount of waste and to dispose of it in a responsible way. We encourage them to use refillable water bottles instead of plastic bottles. In Nepal plastic bottles are not recycled. We started giving a cotton bag made by a women cooperation to our customers to avoid single use plastic bags.
The issue of animals in captivity is a sensitive one for our customers as well as for our company. Our objective is to achieve best practice in animal welfare in the captive and non-captive animal attractions to which we facilitate visits for our customers. We do not actively offer or promote elephant rides. We do offer ethical elephant activities, but always optional and with as less interaction as possible.
Nature and wildlife are key parts of many of our treks and tours. The pressure of sheer numbers of visitors can do serious damage to wildlife and sensitive sites. We provide information to our clients so they can experience the natural environment while protecting it for others to enjoy in the future.
3. OUR LOCAL STAFF
Labor conditions and payment in tourism sector
Our staff is not given an unreasonable workload. Their working hours are reasonable and safe within local regulations and not involve dangerous practices in carrying out the job.
We pay our staff a sufficient wage and they get paid in time according to the contract or letter of appointment which is made between the employee/freelancer and employer. We do not delay the payment of the wages.
We provide our tour leaders and guides with enough money to run the trip (to pay for transportation, accommodation, food etc.). This way they will not have trouble of using their own money for these payments that are our responsibility.
Communication and training
We actively communicate with our staff on environmental and social issues, through small meetings in our office. We started giving 2 pre-seasonal trainings per year where several issues around environment and responsible tourism in general are tackled.
Training is important at all levels of our agency. We encourage life-long learning and the development of transferable skills. Our employees will get opportunities for skills development training.
Our office staff will follow the online Travelife training as part of their onboarding process. Our freelance guides need to follow 3 online Travelife training: Child Protection Training, Leading the way and Guides and sustainability before they can get an assignment in our agency. At a later stage other online training will be advised.
Code of Conduct for Porters
We support the guidelines of the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG). In line of these guidelines, we created the following code of conduct for porters for our treks and expeditions:
- Selection of Porters: we look as much as possible to where the porters come from. In remote areas, we always hire local porters.
- Minimum Age: we will not employ porters under the age of 18, we only work with adult porters. Nepal Inside Out is stricter in this one than the IPPG guideline.
- Wages: All staff will receive a fair wage, which includes the food. Tips are distributed openly and fairly. All porters will be paid for the duration of the trek.
- Accommodation: Accommodation is provided, and trekker’s park fees cover this cost. No porter will have to sleep outside; they will either sleep in huts or tents.
- Loads: No porter should be asked to carry a load that is too heavy for their physical abilities. Weight limits may need to be adjusted for altitude, trail and weather conditions. Our clients will be told that the maximum luggage they can take with them on a trek which is to be carried by porters is 9 kg per person. A porter will carry the luggage of 2 people, so maximum 18 kg.
- Appropriate Clothing: staff will have correct clothing and shoes that are sufficient to stand the coldness on mountains on a high-altitude trip.
- Medical Care: All medical bills will be paid for staff fallen ill during the climb or trek. Staff will be evacuated from the mountain if they become ill and will nevertheless be paid for the whole trek. Our trekking staff is properly insured for this.
- Client Awareness and Behavior: Porters and clients will be introduced by name at the start of the trek. Clients will be given advice on how much to tip and the procedure for tipping.
- Awareness: We educate the porters about our environmental policies during the trip. The guides make sure the porters apply these policies well. The porters, who are in charge of handling the waste generated during the trip, play an important role in proper waste management. Therefore, we pay particular attention to the porters in making the trip as environmentally responsible as possible.
- Inspiration and training: Most of the young porters are future guides and also part time students. Our guides help and inspire the porters to grow as potential guides as all our trekking guides started as porters.
4. REGARDING NEPALESE SOCIETY
Code of conduct for Child protection
We work accordingly to the guidelines of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Children’s or adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling is generally regarded as being something positive.
In our travel agency we don`t allow the following child labor, because it is regarded as being harmful:
- children below 18 years driving cars
- children below 18 years that work as porters (heavy loads); we only work with adult porters.
- children that work many hours in bars, hotels, restaurants
- children that work on a daily basis in the entertainment industry (dancing, singing etc.).
- children that are working as guides on a (almost) daily basis
Code of Conduct against Child Sex Tourism & Child Trafficking
We recognize that sexual exploitation of children is a problem in Nepal. In all our activities and operations, we actively disagree with all kinds of sexual exploitation of children. In case we see a case of sexual exploitation, we inform the authorities immediately. We are members of The Code Against Child Abuse. Our trekking guides are also trained about this topic, and it is included in our trekking guide manual.
More information you find on: www.thecode.org
Partnerships with local NGO`s
Nepal Inside Out has close partnerships with NGO’s in Nepal. We support their work mainly by promoting their activities and including the activities they organize in the itineraries of our clients. Some of them train our staff in sustainability and make our clients aware of different issues in Nepal.
5. OUR CUSTOMERS
We proactive raise awareness of sustainability issues with our customers on social media and our website. To provide sustainable travels, we need the customer`s support through their personal actions during the trip.
This is done in the following ways:
* Through our website, blog and social media: we provide information about different projects and NGO`s in Nepal, and about sustainability in general.
* Before the trip: Our customers get an electronically information brochure about Nepal in general, with a lot of tips to travel sustainable. Sometimes there are sustainable tips in their travel itineraries.
* During the trip: At the start of the trip all our customers are informed about responsible travel during a briefing. They receive an A4-sheet with responsible travel tips. Guests are invited to contribute to projects in Nepal.
* After our trips: We request feedback from customers on the environmentally and socially responsible aspects of their holiday.
HOW CAN YOU HELP – Travel more sustainable.
Respecting Cultural Differences.
Nepalese culture is totally different from the Western culture. There will be a few things that might come across as very intriguing and surprising, and occasionally uncomfortable, to someone unfamiliar to the Nepalese lifestyle. There is no doubt that these differences are exactly what we love to celebrate, and in the same light we expect our clients to get the most out of what only Nepal can offer.
There are several things to consider, from the clothes one wears, how one eats, the tone one uses while talking, to the proximity one maintains while communicating. Besides, as with any countries, Nepal operates on a different concept of time – things happen when they happen!
The traveler who wishes to have a happy and successful trip should keep as calm, cheerful, and friendly as humanly possible. Patience, courtesy, and smiles are virtues that lead to many memorable moments during the trip.
Get to know the locals
Making new friends will be one of the greatest joys of your travels. Accept and enjoy offers of hospitality when you can. By taking the time to chat with the locals you will learn about their daily lives, culture, and attitude to life, plus have a very enjoyable time and a few laughs. This is a chance for them to learn about your culture too. Consider ways to reciprocate hospitality – e.g. post back photos.
Be prepared for lots of questions. Just walking in the street, you may be asked: “What’s your name? Where are you from? How old are you? Where are you going?” – perhaps questions you may consider personal. Don’t be affronted or consider it rude or an invasion of privacy. It’s usually genuine curiosity, friendliness, or a desire to practice their English. Respond with patience and in a cheerful manner. Concepts of privacy in some countries can be very different to your home country.
Limit your use of water
We advise our clients to limit their water use. Water should ALWAYS be used sparingly. In some areas in Nepal, and during some periods of the year, there is a lack of water.
- Consider taking a shower rather than a bath
- Consider whether you really need a shower every day. Check if the provision of hot water for personal washing is solar or gas generated? If it is heated by wood, then consider skipping the shower until the next lodge.
- Do not leave water running while brushing your teeth; If using ‘bucket’ showers or similar, turn off water supply whilst soaping up
Preserve natural water sources
- In delicate areas do not take water from springs if not necessary – you may be depriving local people
- Dirty water, e.g. from washing dishes, should be disposed of by scattering over ground at least 30m (100ft) away from water source / river if a drain is not available
- Do not use non-biodegradable soap in lakes or streams. Locate sources selling bio-degradable products where possible and use these products
- Do not pour oily water into streams
- Wash dishes in a bowl / sink rather than running tap as this uses less water
Limit your use of energy
- Turn off air-conditioning, lights, TVs and fans when not in room and consider not using air-conditioning, or only when it is very warm.
- Look out for any hotels that use more sustainable resources – e.g. hotels with solar panels.
- Check if hotels recycle any goods and encourage others to adopt the system if it works.
- We do not encourage our drivers to let the cars run the engine for more than three minutes before setting off.
Don`t use firewood/Campfires
- Try to have only an occasional fire as a treat, as it depletes natural resources / causes smoke pollution / may rob local people of their only fuel source.
- Wood collected should be dead wood off the ground only. Do not strip branches from trees as what looks dead to you may be just dry or dormant
- Keep the fire small
- Use a pre-existing fire ring where possible or the site of a previous fire
- Only paper goods should be burned on the campfire. Even light plastics generate toxic fumes.
- Be aware of fire hazards and local fire regulations
- On leaving camp, the campfire should be ‘dug in’ so that (i) you can be sure it is out and (ii) it is not an unsightly mess.
Litter and waste disposal and reduction of waste
Litter is a huge problem in Nepal, where there is limited or no infrastructure for waste disposal, let alone recycling facilities.
The first step is to ensure that you minimize our use of resources in the first place, to generate less waste. Then you try to ensure that waste is disposed of in the most effective way possible.
- Litter should always be disposed of responsibly. Never throw trash out of the window when we are travelling.
- Cigarette buts should not be dropped on streets / behind bushes / overboard boats etc. but put in a rubbish bin or in pocket until a rubbish bin is available. We recommend smokers carry a receptacle to collect their butts. Plastic film cases are excellent for this and reduce the smell!
- Campsites should be checked for all litter before departing, including bottle tops and cigarette ends. Customers and crew should help in this respect.
- Check if any recycling facility exists locally and use it where possible.
The following policy should be adhered to when disposing of rubbish from camps at nature areas:
- Items that should be burned: paper & card board*
- Items that should be buried: vegetable & food waste*
- Items that should be carried out: plastics, glass & cans. Rubbish should always be disposed of where it is sure to be collected*
*Note that in national parks we follow the guidelines of the national parks.
Our staff will inform themselves with the national park authorities and notify the clients about the applicable regulations to follow concerning garbage.
Sanitation and toilets
In Nepal, toilet paper is not commonly used. Check if the sewage system can cope with this non-human waste before throwing toilet paper and sanitary protection down the toilet. In these cases, we advise clients appropriately and ensure that bins are emptied regularly.
When we camp at a place where no toilets are available, the tour leader will always point out the area where people can go into the bush for toilet facilities. People can bury their feces. Therefore, you will be provided with a shovel. It is NOT allowed to leave any toilet paper behind. In wet areas people may burn the toilet paper; in dry areas toilet paper should be thrown in a dustbin.
Respecting fauna & flora
Never feed animals/fish. Giving them food other than or additional to what they usually eat is likely to make them ill or makes them dependent, so they cannot survive on their own in the wild
Do not pursue animals, thus distressing them, for the sake of a photo / better look & do not try to touch animals; apart from being dangerous, it can distress them.
Where animals are used for transport on tours, we try to ensure that animals are well cared for and have no signs of mistreatment, illness or malnourishment.
Never pick wildflowers or plants & stay on the fixed trails and paths.
Buy responsible souvenirs: antique, coral, shells, ivory, butterflies etc.
Be aware of goods that may be manufactured through child labor and inform yourself about local laws regarding purchase and export of antiquities. Do not buy items derived from endangered / fragile species (flora and fauna). Be aware which goods are made from forbidden animals or plants. It is forbidden to take such souvenirs to Europe, and you risk a big fine.
Here is a list of examples of products/materials that are forbidden:
- ivory and products made of ivory
- cactuses or orchids (e.g. rain sticks are made of cactuses and are forbidden)
- Chinese medicines and plasters
- any products made of the skins of crocodiles, snakes, big cats
- butterflies and parrots
- fossils from the rivers
More information on this subject you can find on www.cites.org
Food and meals
Do not eat food from endangered / fragile species. As with objects, be aware which goods are from sustainable sources.
Cultural differences: hierarchy, gender etc.
Our whole crew is treated as equals socially. Where the crew work with or accompany the group, our tour leaders encourage interaction with them, whilst respecting the individual’s wishes for privacy. Respect for social and cultural diversity is important.
When visiting local people, we will always behave according to norms and values in the particular community. Sensitivity to the host culture is important. For example: we ask permission from the village chief to visit the families.
Gifts and presents
It is not advisable to give any money, sweets, gifts, medicines or presents to children, neither to adults.
We discourage giving to beggars that are begging to tourists only. Whilst in Nepal some people depend on begging for their livelihood, we regard giving money as a short-term solution to a more fundamental problem. Nepal Inside Out tries to find ways we and our customers can offer more long -term support by supporting local charities and projects in communities.
If people want to assist children, we advise to give some requirements to non-governmental organizations which are focusing on special target groups, such as children, orphans, handicapped persons etc.
Where possible, we will inform our clients about a development project or organization within this destination. So the clients have the possibility to give follow-up by contacting this foundation.
Visiting schools, hospitals, or development projects
The tour guide always asks permission to visit a school, hospital or development project. If they allow the group to visit the spot, we will ask whether somebody from the school, hospital or project can give us a brief explanation while guiding us around.
After the guidance and explanation, it is respectful to hand over a gift for the school, hospital or project. Distinction can be made between a small gift for the person who has been guiding and a present/money for the project itself.
We do not encourage giving ‘second hand’ medicines to hospitals with description in languages that the people in hospital do not understand.
Visiting ancient sites
When visiting ancient sites, the tour guide informs the clients about certain applicable regulations:
- Do not touch ancient monuments, as oils, acid and dirt from hands can cause erosion.
- Respect laws against flash photography in sites as the bright light can cause damage to frescoes etc.
- Do not pick up stones, fossils or potsherds. These are part of the site!
- Keep to the set paths.
- Never climb on or over ruins / walls
- Do not enter premises where there is mentioned `Hindus only`; unless you are a Hindu.
We inform our clients about photographing. The following general advises are given:
Always ask permission in advance when making photographs of a person or his property (for example, his house or his cattle).
Never make photographs secretly; if people do not want to be photographed we have to respect it.
If people ask money to be photographed, then know that this is not the norm in Nepal. We do not encourage paying for photographing people, except when this is the social norm for tourists like for instance the Sadhu`s (holy men) in Pashupatinath. In this case it is advisable to discuss the price in advance. The tour leader can advise you about this.
Do not make promises to send the photographs if you are not sure to keep your promises.
We inform our clients about the dress code in Nepal. In the travel brochure that you receive after booking, there is information about the general dress code. On events or visits during the travel the guide will advise clients how to dress.
Foods and Crafts
We promote local grown foods and other local products. We encourage our clients to visit local bars and restaurants and experience local products and cuisine. Our tour guides educate our customers about local food and crafts and encourage their appreciation; this can help to make a real difference to the preservation of local skills and jobs.
Visiting indigenous groups
The tour leader will inform clients about how to show respect to the local community they are visiting. He will explain them some ground rules like the following:
Clients should ask permission before they walk around on private premises, especially because in Nepal people are very religious and some places are considered as being holy and off limit for foreigners.
Clients should realize that they are `guests` in the communities they visit. They will be informed by the tour about cultural issues, such as the way of greeting, payments, bringing presents, asking questions, etc. All these advices should be taken into account very strictly.
Clients should not give money to random individuals. If they want to donate something, the guide can talk to the village committee to see if they have a fund for community projects.
Clients are advised to give a fair, reasonable tip to the local guides, cleaners, cook, drivers etc. Tipping is very important but we can never force clients to tip, as it is voluntary. Our advice for local crew depends on the work they do.
We will brief our clients in a pre-trip information brochure about what tipping means for the local crew. We will point out that this is much different from what it means for in their culture, so they are aware that tipping is very important.
GIVING SOMETHING BACK
Giving something back to the communities
At Nepal Inside Out, part of our travel philosophy is that tourism is a two-way experience.
When you return home we’d like you to think about how you can give something back to the country you visited. You’ve just spent quite a bit of money on giving yourself a great time by experiencing another culture and meeting the local people. Your spending has certainly helped the local economy. There are other things that can be done now to help some other countries on an ongoing basis. After your trip, you will probably be more aware of the environmental, social, political and cultural problems that some local communities in Nepal face.
There are various organizations and groups trying to address these issues, aiming to assist developing countries maintain their cultural identity, develop sustainable resources and improve social justice situations. All of them require resources and are looking for donations.
Making a donation is not the only way you can assist. Providing your time and/or skills might be as valuable and useful.
Things you could do:
- Join a development organization or another group devoted to raise issues in developing countries.
- Become a volunteer and donate your time.
- Buy your presents at shops run by various third world charitable groups.
- Or just have a more environmentally friendly household and use the world’s resources more efficiently.