Sustainability Policy – Asian Heritage Treks and Travels
At Asian Heritage Treks and Travels, we are committed to promoting sustainable tourism practices that minimize the negative impacts of travel on the environment and local communities while maximizing the benefits to our clients, employees, and host communities. To that end, we have established the following sustainability policy:
As a travel company who engage with various stakeholders in tourism, namely consumers, tour guides, travel agencies, hotels, transport companies, restaurants, and attractions, We as Asian Heritage treks and travel understand our key role and influence in the sustainability development of tourism. Therefore, we are committed to promoting sustainability. We aim to follow, implement, and promote good sustainability practices to maximize positive impacts and minimize negative impacts on tourism of our operations and to influence our clients and partners to do the same.
At Asian Heritage Treks and Travels, we are committed to promoting sustainable tourism practices that minimize the negative impacts of travel on the environment and local communities while maximizing the benefits to our clients, employees, and host communities. We commit to effectively manage and continually improve our environmental, social, cultural and economic impacts.
We will identify the progress made in the sustainability field by measuring our actions with relevant environmental legislations in effect, legislations sanctioned by specialized entities. We will monitor our progress on an annual basis and update out policy according to this if needed. Finally, we commit ourselves to honestly communicate our organization’s policy and sustainability objectives to all staff members, clients, partners and authorities.
To that end, we have established the following sustainability policy that is divided into 11 themes. Each theme consists of a set of principles and practical actions accordingly:
1. Sustainability Management & Legal compliance
We commit to sustainable management by practicing the following actions:
- To have an appointed employee who is responsible for sustainability coordinator tasks;
- To have a sustainability mission statement that is communicated to customers, partners and suppliers;
- To have an accessible and written sustainability policy that aims for a reduction of the negative social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts of the company’s activities; and includes employee related health and safety aspects;
- To collaborate and actively involved in external forums and working groups which are supportive to sustainability in tourism;
- To conduct baseline assessment of the company’s performance on sustainable practices;
- To have sustainability guidelines and assessment system in place to identify the sustainability performance of key suppliers/partners;
- To have sustainability action plan with clear targets, actions, measures, responsibilities and time planning;
- To develop documented procedures to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the sustainability policy, objectives and targets;
- To ensure company’s transparency in sustainability by public reporting and communicating;
- To ensure that all staff are fully aware of our Sustainability Policy and are committed to implementing and improving it.
We commit to complying with all national legislation, regulations and codes of practice.
2. Internal management: social policy & human rights
We commit to sustainable internal management by having clear written and well-communicated social policy that includes the following principles:
- To include labor conditions according to national labor law and a job description in the employment contract.
- To grant employees the freedom of employment and contract termination with notice (ideally minimum one month) and without penalty.
- Wage rate is to be mentioned in the contract and equals or above the national legal wage.
- To determinate and compensate of overtime working hours based on agreement.
- To provide medical and liability insurance according to the national law.
- To grant employees fixed paid yearly holiday and sick leave and unpaid annual leave allowance.
- To have health and safety policy for employees complies with national legal standard.
- To have first aid sets and trained staff are available at all relevant locations.
- To obey national concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment.
- To have documented effective procedures in place for employees to voice out their complaints and expectations.
- To have a clear disciplinary procedure that is effectively communicated with employees.
- To have a measurement system for employee satisfaction on a regular basis.
- To provide periodic guidance and training for employees on roles, rights and responsibilities regarding health and safety issues. This includes fire and relevant natural disasters.
- To create opportunities for students in participating in traineeship/ internship/ apprenticeship.
We commit to practice human rights by ensure the enforcement of following practices:
- To declare not to hinder trade union membership, collective labor negotiations and representation of members by trade unions.
- To participate and comply with a (sector wide) collective labor condition negotiation structure (if locally existing).
- To prohibit discriminations, regard to recruitment, conditions of employment, access to training and senior positions, or promotion in terms of gender, race, age, disability, ethnicity, religion/beliefs or sexual orientation.
- To ensure all employees have an equal chance and access to resources and opportunities for personal development through regular training, education.
3. Internal Management: Environment and community relations
We commit to practice environmental protection and enhance community relations by ensuring the enforcement of following practices:
- Actively reduce the use of disposable and consumer goods.
- Favor the purchase of sustainable goods and services, whenever these are available and of sufficient quality.
- Purchase products in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging materials.
- Set copy and printing machines and all equipment by default to double-sided printing or other forms of paper saving modes.
- Have an active commitment to measure, monitor and reduce energy consumption.
- Purchase green energy and efficient lighting for all areas, when available.
- Switch off Lights and equipment when not in use.
- Prefer low energy equipment when buying new items, including considerations of cost and quality.
- Set all equipment by default to the energy-saving mode.
- Have an active policy to reduce water consumption, implemented and monitored on a monthly or yearly basis for benchmark purposes.
- Use sustainable water sourcing, which does not adversely affect environmental flows.
- Install water saving equipment in toilets, re-use wastewater and/or collected rainwater.
- Comply with the national legislation concerning waste disposal.
- Develop and implement a solid waste reduction and recycling policy, with quantitative goals.
- Take action to reduce the amount of (non-refillable) plastic bottles of drinking water for office use.
- Take measures to reduce the amount of packaging materials and not provide non-recyclable or non-biodegradable package materials.
- Implement waste reducing methods when using ink and toner cartridges for printing and copying, whenever feasible.
- Recycle or properly dispose of batteries.
- Implement measurements to reduce brochure wastage.
- Comply with national legislation of wastewater treatment, which should be reused or released safely.
- Minimize and substitute the use of harmful substances and manage properly the storage, handling and disposal of chemicals.
- Use cleaning materials which are non-hazardous, non-eutrophic and biodegradable and are certified with an eco-label, if locally available.
- Implement practices to minimize pollution from its buildings (as far as being able to be controlled by the company).
- Reduce staff related travel and use more sustainable modes of transport.
- Reduce transport related impacts by tele-work, tele/video meetings, work-at-home policies, or other means.
- Maintain and properly check motorized company vehicles, to reduce emissions and energy use and make sure they comply with the legal emission standards,
Sustainability training and awareness rising
- Provide periodic guidance, training and/or information to all staff members, about their roles and responsibilities with respect to internal environmental practices.
Land use and community relations
- Comply with land use, zoning and protected or heritage area laws and regulations; when planning, designing, constructing, renovating, operating or demolishing company buildings and infrastructure.
- Take into account the capacity and integrity of protected and sensitive natural and cultural heritage when planning and designing newly constructed company buildings.
- Adopt locally appropriate and sustainable practices and materials in planning, design, construction of new buildings or renovations.
- Base planning, design and construction of new buildings or renovations, on locally appropriate and feasible sustainable practices and materials.
- Contribute to the protection and preservation of local historical, archaeological, culturally, and spiritually important properties and sites, and not impede access to them by local residents.
4. Partner agency
Based on an inventory of our key partner agencies, wehave developed and implemented a policy to improve sustainability of our partner agencies. Our aim is to make sustainable development concrete to each and every partner within our business.
Wecommit to this by;
- Only working with organizations who are truly implementing sustainability in their tourism policy.
- Minimalizing the ecologic footprint of the office by travelling mainly via public transport, working as paperless as possible, separating waste, and to make use of certified recycled paper.
- Paying attention to the local benefits of communities when selecting local accommodations and their social policy for employees.
- Raising awareness among key partners on sustainable consumption by organizing (online) campaigns and trainings.
- Informing key partners on the Travelife and national tourism standard.
- Evaluating the sustainability practices regularly of our key partners to ensure their practices are truly sustainable.
- Partner with organizations that promote ethical and responsible volunteering and community development practices.
- Informing key partners about the travel companies’ sustainability policy and that they are expected to comply with it and/or communicate it to final customers where relevant.
- Including key sustainability clauses in contracts with inbound/receptive partners.
- Having a written contract with partner agencies.
- Including clauses in the partner contracts that enable contract partners to end the contractual agreement prematurely if the partner company does not take adequate measures to prevent sexual exploitation of children within the direct supply chain.
- Ensuring that partner companies comply with all relevant national laws protecting the rights of employees.
We try to ensure that vehicles used on tours do not cause more than average pollution. We believe that transport is an important aspect of sustainable tourism, and we do our best to decrease the average pollution level.
We commit to this by;
- Selecting the most sustainable options considering price and comfort when selecting transport options to the destination;
- Including sustainable (public) transport to the point of departure for the international/long distance journey;
- Considering and giving preference to more sustainable alternatives when selecting transport options for transfers and excursions in the destination, taking into account price, comfort, and practical considerations;
- Integrating and/or promoting more sustainable holiday products/packages based on a recognized methodology, including sustainable transport, sustainable accommodations, and sustainable activities.
We try to achieve tourism supply chain that is fully sustainable. The partner accommodations play an important role in achieving this and are stimulated and motivated to adapt sustainable practices.
We commit to this by;
- Measuring accommodations if they comply with sustainability and quality standards.
- Motivating and encouraging partner accommodations to become sustainably certified.
- Preferring and selecting accommodations that are locally owned and managed.
- Selecting accommodations that employ local communities.
- Having accommodations provide evidence clarifying their sustainability goals and strategies.
- Encouraging accommodations to follow best practices/trainings on responsible tourism.
- Encouraging accommodations to fill in the sustainability questionnaire to gain insight in their practices.
- Clearly and actively communicating our sustainability objectives and requirements regarding accommodations to contract and other relevant accommodations.
- Giving clear preference to accommodations that work with internationally acknowledged (e.g. GSTC recognized) and/or Travelife certification;
- Including standard sustainability clauses in all contracts with accommodation providers that focus on child labor, anti-corruption and bribery, waste management and protection of biodiversity;
- Ensuring that through our accommodation supply chain, the rights of children are respected and safeguarded.
- Working with accommodations and restaurants that incorporate elements of local art, architecture, or cultural heritage; while respecting the intellectual property rights of local communities;
- Contracted accommodations are expected to limit their negative impact on local and global biodiversity, wherever feasible (e.g. not to offer red-listed species on the menu or advise on illegal souvenirs).
- Terminating cooperation with accommodation in case of clear evidence that contracted accommodations jeopardize the provision of integrity of basic services such as food, water, energy, healthcare, or soil to the neighboring companies.
7. Excursions and activities
We value animal and community welfare extremely high and aim at tours that only leave a minor footprint. We are safeguarding the authenticity of the communities and the natural environment and are strongly against harming wildlife and polluting the environment.
Wecommit to this by;
- Having an inventory of environmentally or culturally sensitive excursions which are offered in each destination.
- Advising guests on behavior standards during excursions and activities with a focus on respecting the local culture, nature, and environment.
- Not offering any excursions that harm humans, animals, plants, natural resources such as water and energy, or which are socially and culturally unacceptable.
- Not offering any excursions in which wildlife is held captive, except for properly regulated activities in compliance with local, national, and international law.
- Not being involved with companies that harvest, consume, display, sell, or trade wildlife species unless it is part of a regulated activity that ensures that their utilization is sustainable and in compliance with local, national, and international law.
- Not offer voluntourism tours or activities that involve unskilled or unqualified volunteers working with children or in community development projects
- Having skilled and/or certified guides to guide our guests in sensitive cultural sites, heritage sites, or ecologically sensitive destinations.
- Promoting and advise our guests on excursions and activities which directly involve and support local communities by purchasing services or goods, traditional crafts and local (food) production methods, or visiting social projects.
- Promoting and advising our guests on excursions and activities which support local environment and biodiversity such as visiting protected areas or environmental protection projects.
8. Tour leaders, local representatives and guides
We aim at involving as many locals as possible by employing them in the tourism business. We stand for a fair and safe working environment that supports and respects local communities.
We commit to this by;
- Ensuring that all employees have a written employment contract, including labor conditions and a job description, and fully understand the terms and conditions.
- Preferring to work with local tour leaders, local representatives, local tour guides, porters, drivers, cooks, and other local staff in case of equal ability, and provide training as required.
- Ensuring that our local partners comply with all applicable international, national, and local laws and regulations, industry minimum standards, and any other relevant statutory requirements whichever requirements are more stringent.
- Paying tour leaders, local representatives, guides, porters and other local staff contracted by us at least a living wage that is equal to or above the legal minimum or relevant industry standard.
- Ensuring that our tour guides, hosts, and other employees under contract are qualified and trained regularly.
- Ensuring that our local employees are informed on relevant aspects of our sustainability policy and comply with it, by newsletters, references or supplements to contracts, emails, or training and information sessions.
- Educate our employees and clients about animal welfare issues and the importance of responsible animal tourism practices.
- Offering a special sustainable travel module in the trainings program for local tour guides and hosts, in which the main responsible tourism aspects are brought to attention followed by the role expected from the employees. This module will also include knowledge regarding the destination and its relevant sustainability aspects.
- Having our tour leaders, local representatives and guides inform clients on relevant sustainability matters in the destination (e.g. protection of flora, fauna, and cultural heritage, resource use), social norms and values (e.g. tips, dressing code and photography) and human rights (e.g. sexual exploitation).
- Training our employed tour leaders and local representatives on the avoidance of sexual exploitation of children. This will include training on how to check the requirements concerning exclusion of child abuse.
We aim to maximize positive impacts and minimize negative impacts at destination to ensure the sustainable development of the places that we operate in.
We commit to this by:
- Consider sustainability aspects in the selection process of new destinations and possibly offer alternative, non-mainstream destinations.
- Not selecting destinations in which tourism leads to structural negative local effects, (unless the company’s involvement results in clear counter balancing effects).
- Consider selection of new destinations, which are reachable through more sustainable means of transport.
- Comply with legally based spatial planning, protected areas and heritage regulations. Also with destination management strategies of local, regional and national authorities.
- Support initiatives that improve the relationships between accommodations and local producers.
- Influence and support local government (when possible, together with other travel companies and stakeholders) concerning sustainability, destination planning and management, use of natural resources and socio-cultural issues.
- Support biodiversity conservation, including protected areas and areas of high biodiversity, through financial contribution, political support, and integration in product offers.
- Not promote souvenirs which contain threatened flora and fauna species as indicated in the CITES treaty and the IUCN ‘Red List’; or historic and archaeological artefacts (except as permitted by law).
10. Client communication and protection
Customer welfare and information are very important to us. At Indochina Junk, we ensure clear and constant communication and high protection to our clients.
Prior to booking, we commit to this by:
- Make available a company guideline for client consultation, which is followed by client advisors.
- Ensure that customer privacy is not compromised.
- Comply with relevant standards and voluntary codes of conduct in marketing and advertising messages, and not promise more than is delivered.
- Make product and price information clear, complete and accurate, with regard to the company and its products and services, including sustainability claims.
- Provide destination information, including sustainability aspects, which is factually correct, balanced and complete.
- Inform clients about the environmental impact of different transport options to reach the destination (in case these are not included in the package), and to offer sustainable alternatives, where available.
- Inform the client about sustainable alternatives concerning accommodations, excursions, package holidays and transport options, if available.
- Clearly inform (potential) direct clients about sustainability commitments and actions.
- Educate our employees and clients about the potential negative impacts of voluntourism on local communities and the importance of promoting child welfare.
- Educate our employees and clients about animal welfare issues and the importance of responsible animal tourism practices.
After booking and during holidays, we commit to this by:
- Provide Information to clients about the natural surroundings, local culture and cultural heritage in the holiday destination.
- Clearly inform (potential) direct customers, about sustainability commitments and actions.
- Inform clients about key sustainability aspects and issues in the destination and receive recommendations on how to make a positive contribution.
- Inform clients about risks and precautions related to health and safety matters in the destination.
- Keep a contact person and a telephone number permanently available for emergency situations.
- Train personnel and keep guidelines available, on how to deal with emergency situations.
- Provide clients with documented guidelines and/or codes of conduct for sensitive excursions and activities, to minimize negative visitor impact and maximize enjoyment. When possible, guidelines are developed in collaboration with relevant NGO’s and the affected community.
- Provide clients with information about commercial, sexual or any other form of exploitation and harassment, particularly of children and adolescents.
- Inform clients about applicable legislation concerning the purchasing, sales, import and export of historic or religious artefacts and articles containing materials of threatened flora and/or fauna in the destination.
- Motivate clients to use local restaurants and shops (where appropriate);
- Inform clients on sustainable transport options in destinations, when feasible.
- Encourage clients to donate to local charity and sustainable initiatives.
After holidays, we commit to this by:
- Measure systematically client satisfaction and take into account the results, for service and product improvements.
- Include sustainability as an integral part of the research into client satisfaction.
- Have clear procedures in case of complaints from clients.
11. Continuous Improvement
We will continuously review and improve our sustainability performance by:
- Setting targets and goals for sustainability performance
- Measuring and monitoring our sustainability performance
- Regularly communicating our sustainability progress to our stakeholders
- Seeking opportunities to innovate and improve our sustainability practices
By implementing this sustainability policy, we hope to promote sustainable tourism practices that benefit the environment, local communities, and our clients, while ensuring the long-term success of our business.
Asian Heritage treks and travels commits to and declares that we make all the necessary efforts to follow and comply with all the above stated, we will update the present policy regularly and take the needed measures when we fail to comply with it, analyzing ourselves, our actions, what we did good or wrong and how we can continuously improve us as persons and our organization, hopefully resulting in a better business environment and a better world.
As a Travelife certified company, we are committed to sustainable tourism practices and have implemented a range of initiatives to minimize our environmental impact, promote cultural heritage and community development, and protect animal welfare. By implementing this sustainability policy, we hope to promote sustainable tourism practices that benefit the environment, local communities, and our clients, while ensuring the long-term success of our business.
Contact details of Sustainability Manager:
Nil hari Bastola (Nilam)
Tel: +977 9851019279