Firstly we’d like to say that we don’t agree with using the term ‘responsible travel‘ as a marketing tool. ‘Eco-tourism’, ‘sustainable‘ this and that, ‘green‘ whatever, are widely used as trendy catch phrases to flog trips by some fairly irresponsible tour operators, (bitch, bitch…). How companies that organize visits to: ‘Long-neck Karen‘ hill-tribe villages, monkey shows, the Kanchanaburi ‘Tiger Temple‘ (sic), or Cambodian or Vietnamese shooting ranges can call themselves responsible is beyond us!?
Anyway, responsible tourism should come automatically and not be a contrived policy. All tourism ought to be as responsible as possible without having to shout it from the rooftops either! Fortunately our colleagues at responsibletourism.com are understandable when their requests for our ‘responsible tourism policy’ are met with blank faces at our end. We don’t have a responsible tourism policy – only a tourism policy that we hope is responsible!
So…having said that we’re now going to be totally hypocritical, do quite the opposite and blow our own trumpet with this quote from RT director, Justin Frances:
“All Points East are an excellent example of a tour operator with long-standing commitments to providing tours that work with and preserve the traditions of local people. Their off-the-beaten-track itineraries provide a focus on bringing the benefits of tourism to rarely-visited communities, employ 75% Thai national guides, and visit 100% locally run restaurants. They visit local markets as alternatives to souvenir shops, and insist their travellers only visit sites with minimal negative impacts to wildlife and the environment.”
Well we’re chuffed with this recognition so why not eh? Bear in mind that all tour operators and agents – even ones with ‘Charity’ or ‘Responsible’ in their name – are commercial businesses not NGOs, with legal, health and safety and commercial/economic realities so it’s never going to be perfect but making an effort should, as we said, come naturally anyway!