These days more and more people are swapping flip-flops for work boots, a comfy king-size bed for a sleeping bag under a mosquito net, buffet breakfasts for a home-cooked meal of rice and veggies. When it comes to a holiday, relaxing on the beach just doesn’t quite cut it anymore.
More of today’s travellers are on a quest for authentic and off-beat travel adventures. They’re seeking hands-on experience, cultural immersion, and experiential learning all bound together by a desire to ‘give something back’. Dynamic, stimulating, rewarding - this is the rapidly growing industry of educational travel.
Buffalo Educational Travel
With responsible travel being one of Buffalo Tours’ core values, a dedicated branch of the company - Buffalo Educational Travel (BET) - was established in 2007 to cater for educational travel groups. BET works across Asia in rural communities to promote community-driven sustainable development and sustainable tourism through long-term partnerships with host communities.
Whilst some may focus on the skills and development opportunities for visiting students, BET considers the positive impacts on local communities to be of equally high value and importance. Whilst all company operations adhere to a comprehensive responsible travel policy, project management services are conducted free-of-charge as part of Buffalo Tours’ contribution to community development; this also ensures 100% of client donations go directly to the project.
Recent Awards and Recognition
At the end of 2018, Buffalo Tours was honoured to receive the ‘Experience of the Year’ award from UK travel company, Travelsphere. They claimed the Chansar and Knapor Village project in Cambodia “is a consistently amazing experience which has made a great impression on our clients, leaving them with some really valuable memories and connections with the local people”. This successful community development program has also received recent praise from the locals including an official letter of appreciation from the Kingdom of Cambodia's Ministry of Education. The authority recognised the assistance provided to Chansar and Knapor Communities as a “tremendous contribution to develop the educational sector in Siem Reap”. The infographic below demonstrates the annual amounts invested in school libraries, educational support, teacher dormitories, a kindergarten, toilets, a sports field, and classrooms.
Similar recognition has been received in Vietnam with recent appreciation from Vinh Long City People's Committee. Set in the country’s southernmost region (Mekong Delta) the Vinh Long community project has been in progress for the past 10 years, helping to fight poverty through development whilst discovering local traditions at the same time. Since 2014, BET groups have collaborated with Vinh Long Province Authority and Vinh Long City Red Cross to construct 20 homes along with a number of newly introduced healthcare programs.
Formula for Success
With these recent achievements in mind, one may wonder which aspects are essential for a successful educational trip. Graham Harper, who manages Buffalo Educational Travel, mentions that “there are three values at the core of BET’s successful projects – Transparency, Win-Win-Win, and Inspiration. We are committed to transparency in all dealings with partners, setting a strong foundation for a win-win-win scenario. By this we mean, our projects create a win for you, your group, and your host community. And last but not least, our projects aim to inspire; our job is to help travellers see the world through the eyes of others and our team works tirelessly to offer an innovative range of community-based experiences and development projects.”
Along with service-driven projects, BET also offers curricular tours throughout Asia focusing on history, art, music, and geography. If you’re interested to discover more about educational travel in Asia, check out our website or contact our team here.
Some images in this post are attributable to Callum Thompson.