1. What is Responsible Travel?
Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world and particularly in the Southeast Asian countries. Traveling to distant destinations gives us the opportunity to discover cultures that are certainly different from ours. Apart from the wonderful exultation, unique experience that travels provide, we must take our responsibility to preserve the beauty of the destinations visited.
Responsible Tourism ensures ORIENT SKYLINE TRAVEL, as a travel promoter and You, as a traveler:
- Respect for local culture
- No negligent introduction of new social ills
- Promotion of environmental awareness and responsibilities in the areas visited
You will enjoy both the unique and memorable experience as authentic intercultural exchange of travel, while preserving local resources.
2. Our involvement
The non-exploitation of local communities as well as the preservation of crops and the natural environment are at the heart of ORIENT SKYLINE TRAVEL. This is part of our cornerstone policy. We guarantee that our tours:
- Have a minimal impact on the nature and environment
- Are respectful of local customs and traditions
- Participate in the local economy growth
The majority of ORIENT SKYLINE TRAVEL employees are employed locally and all of our guides provide an authentic travel experience through a sensed awareness of local culture and customs. We also involve local communities in the most remote areas we travel to.
3. Your involvement is very important and highly evaluated
As a traveler, your role is crucial and your involvement is necessary to enhance our efforts. That’s why we wanted to share our recommendations for a Responsible Travel.
These recommendations are for awareness and informational purposes. They highlight the guidelines we expect from each of our guests. Sustainable tourism aims not only to provide economic support to local people, but also to sustain resources for future travelers to enjoy only joyful experience as much as you do.
4. Guidelines for Responsible Travel
4.1. Cultural issues
- Respect for cultural differences
- Helping locals in understanding Western culture
- Respect of dress codes
- Decent bathing suits
- Answer the questions
- Photography & video
- Drugs and alcohol
- Medical prescription
Respect for Cultural differences
Experiencing cultural diversity is one of the reasons we lock the home door and travel to distant destinations. So we have to make sure that these differences are respected and maintained. Things are done differently in Asia, that’s why these destinations are so magnetically attractive! It is essential to respect the cultural codes of the areas we visit. Thank you for accepting the differences and not trying to change them for personal comfort. Patience and courtesy are virtues that open many doors and gateways. Too demanding tourists are often not entitled to beautiful smiles or respect. We would like you to be opened heart travelers.
Help in understanding Western culture
The essence of cultural exchange is also when one helps local people to better understand Western culture and thus to go beyond the superficial attraction for money and wealth. Recognizing that in most of Asian developing countries a Westerner is better off than locals, you are a world traveler, a status that locals can only dream of. When dealing with a local, keep in mind that if it wants to grow economically and socially, then it often involves the acquisition of consumer goods, and it will take a long time to do so. While this undoubtedly changes the villages by making them less authentic to tourists, it is something we must respect and understand. Everyone has the right to development and a better quality of life. The role you can play with locals is to help them have a balanced vision of development by sharing not only the benefits of your culture but also its negative influences. Everything has other side!
Respect of dress codes
In general Asian populations are dressed modestly. Thus, participants of the ORIENT SKYLINE TRAVEL circuits are asked to dress similarly. Dress codes vary from place to place and countrysides tend to be more conservative than cities. In most major cities such as Hanoi or Saigon, Bangkok miniskirts and other light clothes are slowly becoming more popular with the younger generation.
A decent dress helps to give a good image to local people. You will find them much more open to exchange if you dress the same way. Pants / shirt and long sleeve shirts are far well seen. The goal is not to tell you that you can not wear shorts but in some situations they will be inappropriate, inconvenient, especially for women. The shorts should not be too short or too tight. If you have to wear a shorts then it should be better the knee covered ones.
The dress codes are more concerned regarding temples, mosques or other religious sites that you will have the opportunity to visit. Thus, to avoid the anger of the gods or not to awaken that of the locals, it is better to follow these recommendations. In general, both men and women should have their shoulders and legs covered, and shoes and hats, sunglasses should be removed.
Decent bathing suits
There is no place in Asia where nudism or naturism exist even on a moody beach. In some places, Asian women bathe fully dressed. If so, then it is best to wear a t-shirt and / or a sarong.
There are some codes of behavior that apply to the regions we frequent.
- Slamming or raising your finger to call someone local is considered impolite. Asians generally use a clever movement of folds of the fingers of the hand down (as Westerners do but with the palm facing the ground).
- Showing affection in public is considered insulting. Do not kiss! Far from large cities, it is extremely rare to see a couple holding hands while it is common to see friends of the same sex hold hands.
- It is polite to remove one’s shoes before entering a house. Watch the presence of shoes in front of the front door as a sign and follow the custom.
- Criticism of someone should not be praised.
- It is inappropriate to show your anger by raising your tone, voice loudly. Getting angry embarrasses the locals with whom we treat. They will not be embarrassed for them but for you. Not to lose face is a subtle but important value of personal dignity. In Asia, franchising is largely a question of sensitivity and expressiveness.
Answer the questions from locals
The ideal behavior for a traveler is to respond openly and courteously to the questions that are asked of you from locals, such as: “Where are you going?”, “Are you married?”, “How old are you?” … You will probably have to answer these kinds of questions that are rather considered personal in the West. While you will certainly find this flood of disconcerting questions, stay patient and remember that it is a way to be friendly and courtesy from locals rather than being personally curious. Also, Asians often ask: “What is your religion?” They are usually concerned about whether everyone practices a religion without worrying about which one, Asian won’t compare religions. Other issues surrounding marriage and children. If you are not married or do not have children, a good answer may be: “no. “If you do not feel comfortable with such questions, be patient or subtly change the subject!
Also keep in mind that private references vary widely between the West and Asia. Asians often have an interest books you read, writings or photos, things that Westerners consider ‘private property’. The concept of ownership, personal possession is different for rural Asians who are used to living and sharing in a very communal community. Be prepared and understand that your hosts may not be “nosy” but respectfully interested.
Photography and Video
Sensitivity is the key when it comes to photography. You must always ask the people concerned before taking their pictures up – closed, and so respect their choice in case of refusal. In particular, members of ethnic minorities are often unhappy about being photographed. They may think they are not attractive (with their working and too casual clothes rather than their party or new clothes) while others feel that part of their mind is taken if they are photographed. You will also have the opportunity to see porters carrying things more surprising. Please respect the fact that this is their job to earn living, especially since they may not like to be photographed in this situation. Travelers must also avoid paying the right to take photos at the premises because this encourages the locals to be in the expectation. However you can give them a copy of the photo via ORIENT SKYLINE TRAVEL or directly by mail. The locals are very happy to see themselves in photo and this encourages sharing.
While you are obviously invited to take your camera, it is recommended not to film in some places. In some small villages, or in some remote communities, residents consider that filming is intrusive and voyeuristic. In these communities, we also recommend the utmost courtesy and discretion with the cameras. Your tour guide can advise you on this.
Drugs and Alcohol
ORIENT SKYLINE TRAVEL does not allow or accept travelers to use illegal drugs on its tours. The laws of most Asian countries punish with severe penalties, including the death penalty, use and possession of drugs. Foreigners are not exempted if they are acknowledged facts. It is prohibited to engage in the consumption of opium, cannabis or other illegal drugs during the trip. Your tour guide has the power to ask you to leave the tour if you are found in possession of illegal drugs.
Alcohol use should also be considered carefully, especially in small villages and ethnic minority areas. In these regions, our privileged status includes the responsibility to exhort the good side of our cultures and not excesses. Many village populations do not have the means to buy alcohol and they can perceive our excessive consumption as a sign of opulence and elitism. For some, the attraction for this profusion causes the rejection of family responsibilities but also the use of all their financial resources in alcohol. ORIENT SKYLINE TRAVEL does not want to be responsible for it, especially in mountain villages where addiction for certain drugs is already a problem. Finally, drunken and out-of-control Westerners could deteriorate our positive relationship with locals and negatively influence the group’s dynamics. In cities and big cities, where the purchasing power is stronger, our passage has less impact and alcohol is more accepted.
Avoid giving Western medicines to our local guests. They may not understand medicine and its concept of prescriptions. In addition, side effects could also be a serious problem. Also, we do not wish to see drug addiction appear while natural and traditional treatments could already be used. If you are a doctor, it is best not to reveal your profession too quickly, you could end up with a queue of patients!
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule in an emergency. If a local is seriously ill or injured, in a life-threatening situation, then it is appropriate to provide first aid that may include medication. Nevertheless, be alert to potential dangers and reactions to medications and refer them for medical help as soon as possible.
4.2. Social issues
- Relations with minority populations
- Gifts and gifts
- Shopping and food
- Support local communities
Relations with minority populations
Be vigilant, in some communities we are led to have an intimate relationship with people. If you find yourself in a situation where a stronger relationship with a local is born, ask your tour guide who will explain, with the help of other local, how to woo. Failure of this step or misunderstanding could compromise the credibility of the ORIENT SKYLINE circuits, not to mention reports from some communities and possible violence. Be aware that you represent the good image that minorities make of foreigners. While homosexual relations are relatively well accepted in Western countries, the same is not true for most Asian countries. A minority member engaging in such a relationship could be stranded from his or her family and community or even worse.
The strong presence of prostitution in parts of Asia is a very unfortunate thing. Also, ORIENT SKYLINE TRAVEL does not wish to be involved in this. ORIENT SKYLINE TRAVEL‘s philosophy is that of mutual respect towards whoever we deal with, and especially the locals who make their region what it is. The employment of prostitutes is totally contrary to this philosophy and we are totally opposed to our travelers using these services in Asia. Not only are there risks of contracting HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, but there are also serious social repercussions. It is not acceptable to say that “it’s part of the culture”.
Child prostitution or sex tourism is an aberrant and illegal activity that we condemn. Any incident taking part in this will be reported to local and international authorities to ensure that the person involved is questioned and appropriate, charged.
Gifts and Gifts
This is a sensitive issue for travelers who want to help local communities but are not aware of the consequences. There are many ways to make a positive contribution to the communities you visit:
- Appropriate donations
ORIENT SKYLINE TRAVEL supports several local charitable projects. Feel free to visit the Responsible Tourism page of our site or ask your tour guide how to make an appropriate donation. We collect clothes, first aid kits, school supplies and children’s books and we make sure to send them directly to the charity program or the desired project.
Do not give to children who beg, this would reinforce their belief that begging can be a solution for their life. It is best to follow the procedures established by locals and how they treat beggars in their community. For example, in many places, it is considered acceptable to give to the elderly and disabled since there is no social security or other means for them to receive money. Buddhists believe that giving beggars “merit” to them. Your tour guide can inform you more about this.
- Ways to give
Giving money and property to anyone in any way accentuates an unequal relationship between locals and visitors, and relegates tourists to mere money providers. This also takes away the self-esteem of these people since they are getting money just to be poor while they could try to improve their condition through actions within their community. We must also be careful not to pay for acts of kindness (eg pay children to take pictures). We do not want to encourage the development of a society that compares every human action to a potential pattern of profit.
Do not give sweets to children in the villages we visit. The locals do not have access to dental care and these could fall into begging. Pens, toothbrushes, clothes or other worthwhile goods will be better distributed by a local charity, teacher or community leader.
Avoid thinking that you must necessarily give material things. The best of what you can offer is often an interaction like a smile, a joke, singing a song, dancing or playing a game. Give a little of your friendship, your time, and interest to live moments with the locals are without doubt the best gifts
Shopping and food
Please refuse to buy any souvenirs, food or products made from local wildlife. This includes the snake, the bear, the bat, the frog, the turtle and the hippocampus. Local treats such as bears and frogs are both endangered and should not be encouraged. Avoid as many restaurants as possible on the menu. If you witness any animal or wildlife abuse, please notify “Education for Nature Vietnam’s” (ENV) by calling toll-free at 1800-1522 or emailing this address: [email protected]. You can also notify your guide who will refer to an appropriate organization, such as ENV or World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), TRAFFIC, WWF or World Conservation Union (IUCN).
Support local communities
While there are still human rights abuses throughout Asia, some cases are far more serious than others. Do what you can to support as little as possible the perpetrators of these abuses. Learn as much about the countries you visit. ORIENT SKYLINE TRAVEL establishes its activities by making sure not to contribute financially to the managers inflicting violence on the population. It can still happen, without our acknowledgement, that it happens. In this case, prefer to help support the population rather than this type of driving.
4. 3. The Environment
- Environmental responsibility and waste reduction
- Potable water
- Sanitation facilities
- Energy and water control
- Environmental degradation
- Wild life
Environmental responsibility and waste reduction
In Asia, the great economic growth of the region has been to the detriment of the environment. Analysts are beginning to recognize the extent of the damage and the effects on the population. Debris dams stifling rivers, open sewers, excessive air pollution and plastics strewing the streets are the obvious components of unbridled economic growth. We do not want our presence in Asia to contribute to these problems, so we want to minimize our impact on natural environments by reducing accentuates waste. It is appropriate to warn local people of the harmful effects of waste disposal and plastic misuse for them and their offspring. We can also inform our guests of the benefits of implementing social and environmental development programs that will benefit future generations.
We seek to adopt preventive actions on our circuits by putting in place practices that are commonly recognized as that of the 3 Rs: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse.
Let’s try not to use food in plastic packaging as long as the option of fresh food is possible. Disposable plastic and polystyrene are a major problem in Southeast Asia and it is important to reduce its use. Buy in local markets where small packages are used, where food is fresh and where money benefits small producers. Take your own bag with you when you go shopping. “Say no to plastic!”
As soon as we are far from cities, we must leave no waste, we must take them with us. Tampons and sanitary napkins should be washed away and disposed of in an appropriate place. You can also pick up trash left behind by other tourists, so we’ll leave the place cleaner than we found it.
Organic waste such as food should not be scattered or buried in national parks and other protected areas. This practice can introduce new species and this is probably not the natural diet of animals in the area. Again, take them with you. Your guide will draw your attention to this.
Bottled water is available in many Asian countries, but there are still few recycling solutions in the region. Try as much as you can to reduce your consumption of plastic bottles by using other alternatives. Your options are:
In hotels, ask if you can fill your bottle with purified water for free or for a small fee or buy a bigger bottle and refill into smaller one everyday.
Pack your own water filter, purification stamps or iodine tincture. The latter dosed at 2%, can be used with 4 drops / liter of water and must rest for at least 30 minutes (1 hour if the water is very cold). Also, the povidone-iodine solution can be used in the same proportions and left for one hour.
During trekking or in isolated areas, use the sanitary facilities provided. If none exist, find a suitable location at least 50m from water sources and dwellings. Bury the fecal matter, and carry the toilet paper in a bag and throw it in a suitable place or burn it. Along the ordinary hiking trails, most of the hosts have an established sanitary facility for the group.
Preservation of water and energies
Be careful with fuels and water. Pollution, greenhouse gases and other fossil fuel consumption problems are intensified in developing countries as these countries strive to obtain Western equipment, vehicles and production methods. The water reserves diminish. Here are some ways to reduce your consumption:
Do not use air conditioning unnecessarily in hotel rooms or let it run while you are away. Turn it down on ‘fanonly’ or turn it off during the night. This is also best to avoid sore throats and colds.
In the tropics, a cold shower is certainly more refreshing than a hot shower.
An empty room does not require light. Many hotels now have a magnetic system to prevent this waste
During the hikes, use existing paths and be sure to stay on them. Remember that the repeated passage of hikers is a factor of erosion. This impact is even more important during the wet season because it is very easy to create new paths. If people do not respect this, then the roads turn into veritable gullies. Hikers represent a strong impact on vegetation in the rainy season, since they usually stand on the branches, break them, and the topsoil of the soil having been removed, the flows are silted up.
Diving: Remember that touching the coral can hinder its growth. The cuts made by the coral can also quickly become bad infections. Do not take corals or shells even if they are dead, it encourages the locals to think that they are potential memories and that there is a market there to take.
“Take only pictures and leave only footprints”, this is the way to go by adding a touch of sensitivity to this message.
Limestone caves: Do not touch the formations because the human body naturally produces fat which will disturb its formation and discolour the beautiful limestone.
Lights: Reduce deforestation by avoiding burning wood or coal. Gas stoves must be used for cooking during bivouacs. We do our best to choose “homestay” accommodations that use processes with the least waste (oil, gas, wood oven …). Cover yourself with warm clothes rather than light a wood fire to warm you up. Also avoid lighting a fire on these beautiful beaches of white sand because the coal leaves a trace for a long time. Bonfires are also not to be encouraged.
Soap: During treks, when you have to wash in the rivers or lakes, try to forget the soap for a few days and live in harmony with nature! The biggest problem is detergent powders that contain agents that will degrade soils, vegetation and wildlife. It is important to keep in mind that we are visitors and therefore extra weight in the ecosystem.
Fauna and Flora
When visiting the national parks or the reserves where you will be in contact with the fauna and flora, please follow the rules dictated by the park that guarantee the protection of the natural environment. Respect them even if you observe other tourists transgressing them. Do not respond to forest rangers who offer tourists to bypass the rules. Sometimes the locals offer to sell you protected species. It is necessary not to encourage the locals to put these species in danger by buying them. When they realize that there is no demand for these animals, these practices will automatically stop.
Your remarks and feedbacks
In the satisfaction questionnaire are given to you at the end of your tour, we would like to ask for your opinion on our services with regard to responsible tourism. It means a lot to us because we constantly want to improve in this area. You can also send us your comments by email to the following address: [email protected]