Responsible Travel Policy
At Buffalo Tours we understand that tourism can bring both positive and negative impacts to the destinations in which we operate. We also understand that it is our responsibility, as a local tour operator, to minimize any negative impacts and work towards making places better for people to live in and for people to visit.
The Cape Town Declaration describes Responsible Tourism as having the following characteristics
minimises negative economic, environmental, and social impacts;
generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities,
improves working conditions and access to the industry;
involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances;
makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage and to the maintenance of the world's diversity;
provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues;
provides access for physically-challenged people; and
is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence
We use this as our benchmark for our responsible tourism policy and strive to incorporate this into every part of our operations as well as constantly improving in every way we can.
Below are some projects that we are currently involved in
1. Buffalo Tours donates annually to humanitarian causes, such as the Binh Luc Orphanage Nutrition Program and Operation Smile missions, as well as an annual ‘Blue Dragon’ Children’s Charity Summer Camp and assistance for victims of typhoons and floods. In addition we have a ‘Porter Incentive Scheme’ in place on our Mount Fansipan Vietnam route, financially incentivising porters to collect rubbish both to keep the area tidy and to educate locals and tourists about the importance of removing litter.
2. Every year we organise a Medical Trek where volunteer doctors (normally from USA) come to a remote area of Vietnam to carry out basic medical checks on people who do not usually have access to healthcare. Buffalo Tours staff volunteer their time to coordinate and assist during the missions. Normally these last a week and entail trekking through remote areas and staying in basic accommodation in villages. Although hard work, they are great fun and extremely rewarding and without this, many families would not have health care.
3. We operate a sustainable tourism community project in Seuang River, near Luang Prabang in Laos, which is exclusive to Buffalo Tours. For more information on this please see www.educationaltravelasia.com
Below are ways in which we implement responsible tourism in our daily work.
1. Buffalo Tours is a locally-owned company which means that the majority of revenue that is generated is kept in the country and either re-invested or directly spent. This helps boost the local and national economy.
2. Buffalo Tours employs over 250 staff across the region. Their salaries are spent in the local area where they live, especially on their children’s education, health and general wellbeing.
3. We work with as many locally-run hotels and local suppliers as possible, to support local enterprise and the local economy.
1. We have introduced a Buffalo Green Office Policy to reduce our impact on the environment. This is mainly through reducing the amount of materials that we use in the office and recycling any materials that we must use. It also includes training to staff on keeping energy levels down to a minimum.
2. We work with our suppliers to promote more sustainable ways of getting from A to B including walking or cycling, rather than being in a vehicle. Through the introduction of group city tours we also endeavour to reduce the amount of vehicles on the road at any one time.
3. We work alongside hotels to encourage environmental awareness training and wherever possible we select hotels that already have environmental policies in place. In 2009 we launched the Buffalo Green Responsible Travel Recommendations which highlight hotels, tours and services that are considered to be responsible operators, from either a community/social or environmental perspective.
1. Our staff have led groups on medical treks in remote mountains and ethnic minority communities, and co-ordinated the building of schools, kindergartens, wells, toilets and bridges for disadvantaged regions.
2. All our staff sign labour contracts entitling them to the full social services offered by each government including basic healthcare.
3. We have an Occupational Health and Safety Programme which goes well above national requirements because we care about our staff.
4. We invest in our staff and offer on the job training as well as external training. Many have completed the Buffalo Tours Mini-MBA programme which helps them gain knowledge in business administration, thereby increasing their career prospects. We also actively promote from within to help career development.