Travel is an emotional experience, cherishing new corners and venture into unknown landscapes.
Respecting this and giving back to society has taken an important role in our endeavours in leaving only footprints and taking only memories.
GIVING BACK TO SOCIETY
The concept of sustainability and the responsibilities that come with it has always been on the forefront of our operations throughout all our Asian Trails destinations.
Practices that have stood at the cradle of our inception; practices that have been interwoven in our operations and also are pushed forward to our partners and within the Asian Trails community – it is without this strong sense of responsibility and commitment not only with our eyes peeled towards exceeding expectations. It is also our obligation to maintain our stride for respecting cultural heritage and the biodiversity in all the countries we are present.
We are fully committed to operate with the future in mind: we are committed to present something authentic for generations to come and we feel very much inspired with what is our playing ground in respecting the community, the natural splendour and the historical marvels in our Asia.
Asian Trails has internally set strict guidelines to respect the overall well-being of Asian tourism where we follow pre-defined practices for tourism longevity. This on-going process requires training, setting up guidelines for our staff, guides, drivers, suppliers and executives to honour this mission and ingrain the importance of responsible travel further into our DNA.
Travelife has set out a clear direction providing stringent guidelines for the betterment of our travel industry. Supported by national tourism offices, international travel associations and governments, Asian Trails fully supports the philosophy behind Travelife and its goal in guiding respectable travel companies to a sustainable means of operation.
As a member of Travelife we are engaged in the process to work step by step towards complying with international sustainability standards. With many countries under the Asian Trails umbrella aiming at reaching the Travelife Partner recognition, we must meet the standards of over 200 sustainability criteria that can be grouped into five key areas: Office operations; Product development; Working with suppliers; Customer relations and destinations.
From CSR-related projects, community-based-tourism initiatives to minimizing the carbon footprint in our daily work, these principles wholeheartedly fulfil our mission in following accredited standards for travel and hospitality industry as outlined by Travelife.
We are confident that supporting Travelife and binding by its guidelines will reap benefits for all concerned and stay true to our responsibility for a better Asia.
Asian Trails has been awarded Travelife Partner in all destinations
The Travelife Partner award is a recognition of our commitment towards social and environmental sustainability.
We are complying to more than 100 criteria related to sustainability management, office operations, working with suppliers and customer communication. We are working towards further improvements aiming to eventually comply to the Travelife Certified criteria.
The ESTEEM principle
Taking a sustainable approach towards traveling through our destination has led to the creation of the ESTEEM-principle; an acronym that envelops experience options that are beneficial for all aspects of nature, culture, history, and the empowerment we have to deliver outstanding travel experiences to our customers. The concept of a ‘better choice’ when seeing, tasting and admiring our explorations added an almost intangible value to our touring and overnight options, while we monitor the impact with local communities and stakeholders across the Asian Trails Group.
ESTEEM is not about redirecting customers to responsible tourism and travel options; it is a philosophy that ensures that all sites, landmarks, communities, monuments and natural highlights are experienced like they should yet with leaving a positive impact for the travel generations to come. Awareness of the impact, setting standards to leave a place in a better condition after leaving, and monitoring the success rate of our initiatives are key drivers.
We strongly believe in ESTEEM
- Eat locally;
- Stay eco-friendly;
- Transport alternatively;
- Experience meaningfully;
- Empower viably;
- Monitor continuously;
Our ESTEEM goals
At Asian Trails, we believe that happy staff makes happy clients. Therefore, we guarantee a safe, sane and comfortable working environment for everyone. Going further, including every employee in the process of sustainability management is a key factor in our endeavours to improve our activity. By setting targets, we are fully committed to leverage on guiding principles which we have etched in our business philosophy.
Get all our offices to reach the Travelife Partner status
The concept of internationally setting standards for tourism and travel operations across all fronts, with sustainability and responsible on the forefront, is translated in the Travelife concept. Asian Trails has set clear directives that all its offices, current and future, will adhere to these standards;
Create a group-wide sustainability team
Spreading the importance of its ESTEEM goals is driven by team work, with all members facing the right direction. The assignment of a sustainability team and coordinators assures that the message and targets set are effectively transferred across the Asian Trails Group;
Involve at least 50 % of staff in CSR actions
Sustainability does not end within a company. The concept of giving back to nature, the less-fortunate and society tightly intertwined with showcasing our experiences across Asia. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) from all Asian Trails members is a firm yet essential step in taking that responsible example, also outside the company floor;
Get 100% employees aware of our sustainability commitment
A common mind-set, a mutual understanding of its importance, and actionable measures that are both sustainable and show positive results are pillars of our responsible approach in operating travel experiences. Colleagues, new and already part of the Asian Trails family, will be guided into that commitment to act, advice, and partake actively in the sustainable business model, we continue to put forward.
Our Sustainable Practices
Esteemed business partner and friends
Sustainability and the responsibilities that come with it, have always have been on the forefront of our operations throughout all our Asian Trails destinations and including partners in tertiary destinations. Since 1999, thousands and thousands of satisfied customers have enjoyed our services, hospitality and above all, travel happiness!
Practices that have stood at the cradle of our inception when we opened our first offices, practices that have been interwoven in our operations, our partners and within our Asian Trails team members; it is without this strong sense of responsibility and commitment to not only stay abreast with our eyes peeled to exceeding expectations. It is also our obligation to maintain our stride for respecting cultural heritage and the biodiversity of all the countries we are present.
We at Asian Trails are committed to operate with the future in mind: we are committed to present something authentic for the generations to come and we feel very much connected with what is our ‘playing ground’ in delivering exceeding-expectations’ service standards and respecting the community, the natural splendour and the historical marvels in our Asia.
Tourism leaves an impact on destinations – we cannot deny this. The urge for taking a pro-active position for operating responsibly where all parties gain a benefit; be it the customer, the supplier or the local community where we blaze new paths into travel in. It is that vision – giving back to communities, supporting the good cause and carefully selecting partners in our trade – that gives that beneficial advantage when choosing Asian Trails
Asian Trails calls it ‘tourism longevity’, and the core of our activities are summarized in three parts
- Supporting responsible, economic growth through tourism
- Preserving and respecting local culture and heritage
- Minimising our footprint on the environment.
In achieving our mission, Asian Trails is a certified Travelife member. This non-government organisation is a leading platform for destination management companies and tour operators to adhere to sustainable standards. Backed by leading government organisations for the travel and tourism industry, Travelife has set the standards, for companies us as Asian Trails, to comply with and work towards international sustainability standards.
Part of this commitment is our ongoing support to ChildSafe Movement, an organisation that tirelessly protects the rights of children in Asia. This Non-Government Organization aims to eradicate the misuse of children – be it sexual exploitation, forced labour or any other means that is contradictory to the universal rights of children, as part of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights by the UN – as well as being a source of education for visitors and guests.
Asian Trails, as a destination management company, has internally set strict guidelines to respect the overall well-being of Asian tourism where we follow our three main principles for ‘tourism longevity’, as earlier outlined. This on-going process requires training, setting up guidelines for our staff, guides, drivers, suppliers and executives to honour this commitment. Protection of the environment in all our destinations where we eagerly want to show our natural and cultural resources is an essential practice to keep our Asia for generations to come.
We are more than 100% committed: we will make all endeavours to bring this message over to you, our business partner and to all those who form an essential part of the tourism chain in Asian Trails’ destinations. With your support, your commitment to take this sustainably responsible step with us, we can make a change.
Chief Executive Officer
Asian Trails Ltd
Asian Trails prides itself on its extensive specialized knowledge, expertise and integrity that has been the cornerstone of a “yes, we can” attitude. Our Destination Management Company (DMC) services range from tailor-made and wholesale leisure programs, MICE and corporate travel planning, and an extensive variety of theme-based programs – ranging from art, history or adventure – throughout one or more of Asian Trails destinations.
Our expertise is where our strength lies and we are proud to be recognized as one of Asia’s leading experts in travel-related experiences. Our knowledge of each destination is paramount, backed by product innovation, training, consulting and investment into state-of-the-art technology.
With our name connected to operating exceeding expectations travel experiences, Asian Trails is strongly committed in the working closely, practicing and designing its daily operation with the least amount of impact on the environment as a whole. In all what we do, it is on the forefront of our minds to respect nature, honour cultural differences and abstain from harming flora and fauna.
Our practices are aligned with internationals standards set by our partners where we aim to deliver the respectfully understanding of a destination rather than getting a glimpse of the surface. Priority here is working with responsible partners who align their operations as seamlessly as possible with ours.
The Core Values of Asian Trails
Nothing is more important for us to follow the same guiding principles throughout our operations. These are summarized in 7 values that are essential to how we work on a daily basis.
We have an entrepreneurial spirit
We believe our success depends upon our leadership and management teams’ abilities to focus and execute their mission on schedule with an entrepreneurial mind;
We work as a team
We believe in building and maintaining professional, win-win relationships with our employees, customers, preferred partners, and all our business partners in order to achieve mutual success;
We believe in integrity
We are committed to honesty, loyalty, and a high standard of ethical conduct in dealing with each other. We trust, help and respect not only each other and treat each other with understanding but also all our customers, partners and suppliers;
We strive for excellence
We are committed to being a high performance organization by staying focused on total customer satisfaction. We continuously analyse our processes and ourselves in order to become the most preferred inbound DMC;
Our main objectives are customer-focused
We are committed to providing the highest level of customer service; we extend this to our agents, their customers and our preferred suppliers;
We continue to innovate
We are driven in developing and implementing cutting-edge solutions and developments for our customers, preferred partners and employees. We strongly believe in state-of-the-art technological solutions to facilitate all concerned.
Long-term partnerships are part of our DNA
We believe in nurturing fruitful, long-term relationships with our employees, customers and suppliers, based on understanding requirements and implementing needs to sustain business relationships.
By providing engaging and responsible experiences for our visitors, we are also very aware to give back to the local communities we operate in. Our commitment to develop, promote and operate sustainable programs creates support and development for our host communities. Corporate Social Responsibility has become an integral part of our daily operations, whether this is constructing a school, supporting libraries, or just simply creating a healthy and safe environment for communities.
Our Core Values
We are committed to take care of our people
Our HR and Administration standards are exceeding destination-specific laws: Asian Trails’ reputation of recognizing the importance of its team has not gone unnoticed. Part of its vision of working as a team, Asian Trails’ staff turn-around figures are among the lowest in the market. With employees working with the company since it opened its doors, the executive management enforces that all team members are well-treated and are an integral part of the Asian Trails success formula.
The company provides regular in-house / outsourced training and coaching sessions including sustainability-related matters, led by the managers and senior executives, and pays out above industry benefits and salaries. As one of the few companies in the industry, it has its own Code of Conduct in place, created in collaboration with Asian Trails’ owning company.
We are strongly against corruption and bribery
Guaranteeing integrity throughout its operations by Asian Trails, this includes a strong, shared aversion against bribery, corruptive dealings and inappropriate business ethics, which is an essential part of the company’s cornerstones of operating its business model;
We respect human rights
Child protection is a strong commitment for Asian Trails and we are an active member of Childsafe Movement. Consequently, we have adopted a policy to cease all school and orphanage visits (where children are under 10 years old) considered as detrimental to child emotional and human development. Instead we offer more meaningful activities which are contributing efficiently to the sound and safe human and educational development of children;
We nurture, care and share our experiences and knowledge to protect the environment
Asian Trails follows the outlines of the internationally-recognized ‘Five Freedoms’ of animal welfare for all of his activities and excursions. The ‘Five Freedoms’ outline five aspects of animal welfare under human control, and were developed in response to a 1965 UK Government report on livestock husbandry, formalized in a 1979 press statement by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council.
The Five Freedoms have been adopted by professional groups including veterinarians, and organizations including the World Organization for Animal Health, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The Five Freedoms are
- Freedom from hunger and thirst;
- Freedom from discomfort;
- Freedom from pain, injury and disease;
- Freedom to behave normally;
- Freedom from fear and distress.
Within our offices, we apply strict and systematic rules of reducing, reusing and recycling at every possible level. Daily routines such as turning off the lights and electrical appliances when not in use, printing double sided, reducing water and use or separating and choosing the best disposal chain to manage our waste are as important as our procurement procedure where the environmental and social impact of every purchase is taken in account or our commitment to improve our impact by reducing packaging, single use products, business travels, staff means of transportation and paper promotional materials.
Sustainability for Asian Trails continues to play a very important part of the core values; not only from a business / commercial perspective, but also caring for its environment.
The principle of sustainability on the work floor and with all partners has to be a main pillar of operating within its business parameters. From ensuring that we work with responsible, sustainable partners to in-house energy-saving and ecological, protective measures, Asian Trails is thoroughly aware that it needs to lead the way in Asian tourism on this worldwide trending topic.
We pro-actively involve all levels of our operations into our daily operations – suppliers, guides, transportation or other 3rd party contracted experts
Representing reputable tour operators from around the world for many years, the success of Asian Trails has been that it can easily adapt to the fast-moving changes in the travel industry and the specific wishes of its source markets. It has tackled this matter with ease by setting up dedicated departments for source markets, led by (a) native speaker(s), for bridging the gap between the local culture and the source market. Swift responses to cope with flexible demands without compromising quality standards are part of the Asian Trails DNA since 1999.
Giving preference to the suppliers offering the best options for transportation to and on site considering carbon emissions and environment impact, the destinations where tourism development will lead to positive social, economic and environmental benefits, the excursions and activities that respect our code of conduct, the accommodations and restaurants committed to improve their footprint on the countries we operate in, Asian Trails strives to stand as a role model and a key player in the network of sustainability in tourism actors.
The only means to achieve this success is by enforcing and advocating a supply-chain involvement strategy. This allows us to set sustainability standards that are aligned with our partner requirements.
Asian Trails will discontinue collaborative means once suppliers, guides, transportation or other 3rd party contracted experts do not contribute effectively in line with our fundamentals.
Involvement in development and assuring that we’re giving back to our community is essential
Asian Trails believes that every experience should be conducted in the most socially responsible and holistically sustainable way possible. The company has taken great steps in striving to conduct our business in a socially responsible and ethical manner – in such a way that is good for the local communities, the environment, people and our business.
Therefore, any activity we undertake endeavours to tread lightly on our planet; empowering travellers and local communities to leave a positive impact on the surrounding environments in which they visit or live. All our destinations are regularly supporting local causes, non-government supported projects and conduct team-building activities that are beneficial for the environment.
Operating in different destinations throughout East and Southeast Asia, we take a much more ‘local-needs’ approach rather than focusing on group-wide / regional awareness of our sustainable activities. Asian Trails’ destinations provide ongoing support on domestic needs, ranging from waste management, supporting the less fortunate and providing amenities related to education, preservation and prevention.
We care about all our customers
With dedicated departments catering for the needs of each main source market, each department is headed by multilingual staff, that understands not only the cultural aspects of each source market, but also has years of experience in department management in the inbound tourism industry. Asian Trails prides itself that it has Swiss, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Belgian, Indian and Chinese nationals to respond in source markets’ native language, outside of the local language and English.
Outside of language skills, it is in the interest of Asian Trails to conduct training and coaching sessions on a regular basis for all team members to maintain and develop the required skills to act, handle and respond appropriately to generic and specific demands from its customers.
All our destinations operate a 24/7 emergency service for our customers should any emergency arise. We are able to provide emergency assistance in multiple languages and with our extensive network of own offices, Asian Trails has the ability to anticipate and solve emergencies when customers traveling to other Asian Trails’ destinations.
The management of each Asian Trails unit is carefully selected based on various criteria to meet the standards of the company and its shareholders. Outside of essential experience in the inbound industry field, each Asian Trails Managing Director has proven to cope effortlessly with the constant changes in the industry. An internal check balance system is in place for each Managing Director to measure performance levels on all these fronts.
We educate and explain our customers about the possible effects on the environment and advise them accordingly. This includes our Code of Conduct and void selling excursions and tours that are against our sustainable principles. These principles cover all aspects of our operations, be it historical, cultural, natural, social-economical, or the welfare of human beings and animals.
Individual destinations, individual needs
All our offices have defined sustainable projects, selected with value, consideration and fitting into the concept of giving back to society. We will highlight these projects that continue to receive support to make a difference for the less-fortunate in our society and to preserve Asian heritage in our sustainability report at the end of each year. Many of these CSR related project welcome outside support from B2B partners and groups where we are more than happy to coordinate on your behalf.
Our commitment to be an example for the whole tourism field implies and involves every organization we’re in contact with. Encouraging, monitoring and promoting the sustainability performance of our suppliers and partners is our manner to inspire and lead the way to significant changes and improvements.
- Implement a group wide sustainability policy with specific targets and communicate it to our partners through our website;
- Engage all of our suppliers with a Code of Conduct by the end of this year;
- Promote sustainable partners and products through our marketing channel regularly, at least once a month;
- Measure customer satisfaction through systematic survey when possible, analyse and use the result to improve our performance;
- Create and promote the ESTEEM brochure in offering a better choice collection of sustainable products and practices;
All the above is required to assure that we are doing the utmost to
- Minimize our environmental impact: Reduce, ReUse, ReCycle when and wherever it’s possible;
- Monitor and reduce our natural resources consumption: energy, water, waste;
- Use certified paper, properly separate our waste, choose labelled suppliers whenever possible, reduce plastics and single use products.
In between, Asian Trails has firmly laid out the following regulations in place for affirming its commitment to sustainably act and follow internationally accredited standards by
- Create the maximum of positive social and economic effects towards the local communities and positively shape our common future according to our capabilities within the whole scope of our activity;
- Say no to orphanage tourism through a documented policy;
- Team up with partners to lead meaningful activities in the fields of environment protection, economic empowerment of local communities or social support for the underprivileged. Asian Trails has outlined in its country-specific plans to make this an annual event
Our children are our future; every child has the right to be safe from harm, feels secure and is given the chance to be a child and is given the chance to develop to become an invaluable member of society.
The protection of children is documented internationally and those in need for support do require that extra attention. In our Asia, numerous orphanages have been set up to give parents-less children that save haven. Asian Trails firmly believes that orphanage visits must be avoided for tourism purposes. Our stance on saying no to orphanage tourism is based on the following criteria
An orphanage is not the best solution for any child
Asian Trails tries to tackle the problem by the root and support organizations that take care of educating parents and/or find foster families;
Children are not tourist attractions
There are many organizations, even tourism agencies that make use of tourists’ good will for guilty trade purposes. Many orphanages are not licensed but purpose-built as tourist attractions while the children “at display” are not real orphans and still have parents. Sometimes those places are even involved in criminal activities;
Volunteering programs cause more harm than do good
Short-term volunteering and frequent change of reference persons can lead to children becoming distrusting and having a hard time to build long lasting relationships later on.
How can one help?
Acting responsibly towards supporting the less-fortunate and vulnerable ones in society often requires taking a step backward and follow meaningful acts of visits that have shown to be a success formula. Some of the following general initiatives have greatly benefited the overall wellbeing of children in our Asia, when putting a smile on a child is your main objective.
Support the right organizations
Organisations such as Save the Children are heavily investing in childhood developments. Every day, even during times of crisis, they are giving children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. By transforming children’s lives now, we change the course of their future and ours;
Use Training hotels and restaurants
Asian Trails has a number of restaurants and hotels in its portfolio where children are receiving free education, and under professional guidance, to pursue a career in the restaurant and hospitality industry. These training centres are ideal ‘playing ground’ for children in giving them a fair and supportive chance to make an earnest living and feel appreciated;
Visit Community-Based-Tourism projects
By supporting underprivileged communities, those earning their income by providing tourism services, Asian Trails bring forward a secure and culturally enriching environment for children to become an active and valued member of society. CBT projects assure that children are not exploited and give visitors an enthralling local experience in often remote and rural regions of its destinations;
Buy locally sourced and authentic products
Locally made souvenirs, home-cooked meals and authentic forms of handicraft are sole sources of income for families. Asian Trails has ample examples of bringing traveller to responsible business to give the parents a stable income and allow their children to play and learn.
Sustainability Report 2022
To learn more about our initiatives across East and South-East Asia and how you can participate in our endeavours to work towards a sustainable operation, feel free to contact us via sustainable (@) asiantrails.travel.
For an overview of what we do, how we do it, and where we commit to leave this planet in a better shape than we found it, check out our Commitment to Operate Responsibly collateral.