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Travel Better: Memorable Responsible Travel Moments

Chatting with western Nepalese locals | Lachlan Gardiner
Chatting with western Nepalese locals | Lachlan Gardiner

2021 marks the 20th anniversary of our pioneering Responsible Travel Guidebook, a document designed to educate travellers on how they could reduce their impact when travelling.  Since then, our commitment to minimal impact tourism has seen us introduce many more initiatives that have been embraced by our travelling community – check out the highlights below.

In a world that is so beautiful, we aim to bring you closer with nature and create meaningful experiences with local communities and their cultures responsibly. It is a world with endless natural wonders to explore; a place we call our home. But it is a world that is undoubtedly under threat from our impact.

Since our inaugural Himalayan trek in 1975, we have been leaders in Thoughtful Travel. From day one, our ethos was to get out of the bus and to reduce our impact by exploring the world under our own steam. For over four decades, we've been creating genuine and sustainable itineraries to help protect what is delicate and to leave a positive influence. It has been in the past 20 years, however – where 'green travel' has become mainstream – that our responsible travel initiatives have received the public support required to become a real success.

A particular highlight was receiving the Environmental Achievement Award for our ‘Responsible Travel Guidebook’ publication from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 2001, which educated travellers to reduce their impact and has since evolved into our Thoughtful Traveller booklet. Almost 20 years on, we’ve continued to pioneer minimal impact travel ideas with our ‘BIG Adventures. Small Footprint’ travel ethos at the backbone of our itineraries which we consciously craft to respect and positively impact the well-being of the communities and ecosystems we visit.

But we could not have come this far without our thoughtful travellers who have supported us and helped collectively change the world for good. Not only do our travellers leave with an enriching and transformative adventure experience with us, they have helped champion positive changes so others can also appreciate and experience the beauty of the earth. So thank you!

Your support means we can continue to make lasting positive impacts so future generations can also experience the wilderness of the Franklin just as beautifully 40 years on; or to responsibly walk the Larapinta Trail in the footsteps of the Arrernte people, one of the longest continuing cultures on the planet.

From protecting wildlife and supporting renewable energy, to lending a philanthropic arm for our Lend A Hand Appeal – with over $38K raised so far for struggling travel industry workers, our travellers and supporters are all amazing! Learn more about our most memorable responsible travel achievements and commitments below.

Quick links: jump to an achievement
Offering carbon-neutral trips
Allowing travellers to invest in local communities and support cleaner energy at no extra cost
Distributed 485 emergency packages to stricken communities
Launching Community Project Travel in response to the 2004 Asian Tsunami
Allowing travellers to sleep greener at our eco-friendly campsites
Raised over $7 million for charities worldwide
Funding and supporting education projects in poor communities
Bringing tourism dollars to remote communities
Pioneering regenerative travel which aims at positive social and environmental impact
Became a founding member of the 10 Pieces Litter Collection
First company to develop a formalised animal welfare code of conduct
First company to stop offering orphanage tourism
Became founding supporters of the International Porter Protection Group
Hosted a Thoughtful Travel Q&A
Were the first charter member of the ‘Peace Through Tourism’ campaign
Completed over 400 Youth Service Learning Programs
An ongoing commitment to improve through the power of partnerships

Thoughtful Travel Highlights

Offering carbon-neutral trips

We have long been concerned about the impacts of global warming and the impacts tourism contributes to that. While travelling has unavoidable carbon emissions, we're continuing to take BIG steps to reduce our footprint and improve our operations at every level.

From November 2019, we began to offset 100% of the unavoidable carbon emission from our adventure travel holidays, so travellers can explore the world sustainably.

“Travellers can continue to travel, providing incredibly important revenues into nations where tourism is a vital part of the national GDP mix, and do it guilt-free. We also encourage travellers to carbon offset their flights using the airline programmes. It’s an important trajectory that we hope the entire industry will join in on.” – Sue Badyari, CEO of World Expeditions Travel Group

In the industry, we can continue to foster change for good while supporting jobs for those employed by tourism around the globe, and that is a win-win.

Allowing travellers to invest in local communities and support cleaner energy at no extra cost

The carbon credits purchased from South Pole to offset emissions from trips are absorbed by World Expeditions, not passed on to travellers. In turn, our travellers help the climate cause to transition from fossil fuel dependency to renewable energy and help to protect and regenerate forests that capture and store carbon from the atmosphere.

This means that for each active holiday our travellers book onto, they are directly supporting Positive Impact Projects in places such as Australia, Vietnam, China and Zimbabwe, which address the UN Sustainable Development Goals, like reducing poverty, affordable and clean energy, reducing hunger, clean water and climate action.

You are supporting projects in Australia, Africa and Asia.

Distributed 485 emergency packages to stricken communities

Food and hygiene packages have been distributed to families in Nepal, Kenya, Tanzania, India and Peru thanks to our 'Lend A Hand Appeal' supporters. Read more about the appeal and how you can donate today.

Porter families in Nepal receiving our 'Lend a Hand Appeal' food packages

Launching Community Project Travel in response to the 2004 Asian Tsunami

Our travellers across the globe with World Expeditions have been making tangible change in underprivileged communities that receive little to no government support and require assistance through our Community Project Travel trips.

The dedicated division first launched in 2005 in response to the devastating Asian Tsunami in 2004 and has been a continuing force for good. Working alongside volunteers from the host communities, travellers complete grass-roots construction projects that have been funded by the World Expeditions Foundation.

“It has become the portal for travellers to immerse in community project works that, while small scale, are measurable and leave a permanent benefit for the community once complete. As a profit for purpose division, we were able to deliver dozens of projects across the globe. This is a great pride for us, and a joy for the travellers that participated.” – Sue Badyari, CEO of World Expeditions Travel Group

Allowing travellers to sleep greener at our eco-friendly campsites

Our portfolio of adventure holidays have always had a light environmental footprint by designing trips that allow adventurers to travel under their own steam – on foot, by bike or kayaking or rafting, with low carbon accommodation preferred.

 

In Nepal, our exclusive campsites offer new levels of comfort during a trek whilst caring for the environment and local communities. It provides year-round employment and career opportunities for the Nepali people (a camping-based trek can employ 25% more local people than a teahouse or lodge-based trek) and ensures a significantly smaller environmental impact, as deforestation is a major ongoing concern in the Himalaya.

On our Larapinta trips in Australia, our three-time award-winning campsites continue to set the standard, incorporating new sustainable technologies including solar lighting systems and a hybrid grey water disposal system designed for the arid environment.

Facilities at our eco camps |  <i>#cathyfinchphotography</i>

Where campsites aren’t used, we use comfortable, locally-owned accommodation to support the local economy and are eco-friendly and which often encourage communities to preserve their traditions so travellers can enjoy their downtime and feel great about it.

World Expeditions' active itineraries are crafted to minimise road travel and to maximize our travellers own power to get them from point A to B.

Collectively raised over $7 million for charities worldwide

Since its inception, our dedicated charity brand, Huma Charity Challenge, developed programmes that allow our Charity Challenger participants to run, cycle, trek or climb their way around the world whilst raising much-needed funds for important causes. View various Charity Challenges you could take up >

The Conquer Kozi team at the summit of Mount Kosciuszko |  <i>Ayla Rowe</i>

Funding and supporting education projects in poor communities through our philanthropic arm, the World Expeditions Foundation

Founded in 2007, the World Expeditions Foundation aims to improve the standard of living in poor and indigenous communities, largely through education-oriented projects from donations raised.

It served Nepal very well after the earthquakes in 2015 where the generous flow of donations were able to relieve many people in the worst-hit regions with tin roofing, canvass and canopies as well as fuel and food to help them get through the earliest days of the disaster.

One of the charity’s major programmes is the Rebuild Nepal Projects, which continues to support the redevelopment of classrooms across remote mountain communities affected by those earthquakes.

“It took sheer perseverance to see through the establishment of the World Expeditions Foundation to become a full DGR entity. That is, those donating to the foundation could receive a tax-deductible receipt which is a major propellant to heightening donations to create greater positive impacts with the projects we are supporting.” – Sue Badyari, CEO of World Expeditions Travel Group

Bringing tourism dollars to remote communities who have limited access to income from other sources

Our unrivalled range of exploratory treks to remote destinations, like the Great Himalaya Trail, spread tourism dollars to local communities that benefit from travellers visiting.

Partnering with local operators and hiring local guides and leaders sees our traveller’s dollars investing in these local economies. It’s a fantastic way our travellers can give back to the communities they visit and better spread out the positive and negative impacts of tourism on the destination.

Local people of western Nepal |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

Pioneering regenerative travel which aims at positive social and environmental impact

On top of our sustainable practices, we actively work to improve the destinations our travellers visit and essentially leave the place better than they found it. It’s about restoring and improving the health of the earth, not just maintaining it.

As pioneers of the Franklin River Rafting Expedition in Tasmania’s World Heritage wilderness since 1978, our responsible travel practices has allowed future generations to experience it just as beautifully 40 years down the track.

 

On the Larapinta Trail, as visitors on the sacred land, we work alongside the indigenous traditional owners and NT National Parks & Wildlife to allow clients to gain a deeper understanding of the need to conserve the Aboriginal cultures and respect their place and lifestyle in Australia. A partnership between the landscape and the campsites has been established to maintain respect for country, to enhance the sense of place and to provide a total environment experience of the Larapinta trek.

Our Larapinta eco campsites provide shelter to our walking groups through a series of minimal impact structures and each campsite's semi-permanent design allows the land to recover during the off-season.

Became a founding member of the 10 Pieces Litter Collection

Focusing on litter ‘hotspots’ on mountain trails, it is offered on treks in Nepal, Bhutan and Peru, as well as the Mount Rinjani and Mount Kilimanjaro summit treks. This litter minimisation initiative and education lobby, helps supports the UN Sustainable Development Goal of climate action, through traveller engagement.

As the only Australian tour operator of ‘10 Pieces’, this initiative encourages trekkers to pick up 10 pieces of litter each day. While ‘10’ may sound like a nominal number, it multiplies immensely through the collective power of a group of travellers.

First company to develop a formalised animal welfare code of conduct

Under the guidance of World Animal Protection, World Expeditions developed a 10-step ‘Animal Welfare in Tourism Code of Conduct’ on how to be an animal-friendly traveller and see wildlife in a responsible way that does not cause harm.

World Expeditions' animal welfare policy is an industry-leading step towards integrating animal welfare with broader responsible tourism

Nicola Beynon, World Animal Protection

Most recently, we removed the Eagle Hunting Festival from its Mongolian programme, as part of its drive to ensure all its trips adhere to the strictest standards of animal welfare.

First company to stop offering orphanage tourism to prevent the unnecessary institutionalisation of children in developing countries

All instances of orphanage tourism were removed from our itineraries in 2013, when research first revealed a direct link between the increase in the number of orphanages in developing nations and the increase in tourism numbers. Read more about Child Safe Tourism.

 

Became founding supporters of the International Porter Protection Group

Mountain porters are an integral part of each World Expeditions trekking or mountaineering adventure. We support the International Porter Protection Group, Porters' Progress UK and the International Mountain Explorers Connection and, to ensure safe working conditions, developed a dedicated ‘Porter Welfare Code of Conduct’ for the porters it employs in Nepal, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Kenya and Tanzania.

 

Hosted a Thoughtful Travel Q&A

The Q&A in March 2018 provided quality information and guidance on best sustainable travel practices and to inspire attendees to become stewards for travelling sustainably and responsibly. The live-streamed event featured expert panellists who discussed important responsible travel topics including ethical voluntourism, working conditions for porters in Nepal, voluntourism and why travellers should think twice before visiting an orphanage overseas. You can watch the discussion in the below video.

Were the first charter member of the ‘Peace Through Tourism’ campaign

It aims to create awareness that the privilege of travelling provides a unique opportunity to learn more about Earth, the wonder of its natural beauty, and its many diverse peoples, cultures and heritage while fostering mutual respect, understanding and appreciation with each person we encounter in the process.

From animal welfare to child safe tourism, World Expeditions has always adopted and adhered to responsible and sustainable travel practices

Successfully completed over 400 Youth Service Learning Programs, which tie in projects that aid communities and natural environments

Through our youth brand, World Youth Adventures, we have committed to instilling service values in students and young travellers by providing Service Learning Programs guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals for schools across the globe – from renovating schools to assisting the upkeep of wildlife sanctuaries. Find out more >

Painting at a community project in Nepal |  <i>Greg Pike</i>

An ongoing commitment to improve through the power of partnerships

We continually collaborate and seek guidance from a range of expert organisations, including World Animal Protection, ReThink Orphanages, 10 Pieces, South Pole Group, Leave No Trace, World Peace Tours and the International Porter Protection Group. This ensures that our travel philosophy and in-field operations reflect up-to-date sustainable practices.

As said by American novelist, poet, environmental activist and farmer, Wendell Barry: “The earth is what we all have in common.”

Together, we can foster change and instil greener and smarter travel behaviours to protect our planet's most vulnerable destinations and transform tourism's impact on nature and communities.

Let’s continue to do our part to leave a positive impact and use thoughtful travel to not only see the world, but to make it a better home.

Published 1 December 2020.

Thoughtful Travel, Eco-tourism, Responsible travel, sustainability, regenerative travel

Comment (1)

bhaiya

Good article. Thank you for sharing.

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