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Discover Sustainable Initiatives from DMCs Across the Globe

For adventure travellers, every step taken, every summit conquered and every wilderness explored is a testament to the bond between humanity and the living planet we call home. The passion we feel as an industry to explore our vast and beautiful world should be coupled with a desire to maintain and protect the earth for everyone.



Today, the 22 April 2024 is Earth Day, the largest environmental movement worldwide which raises awareness of the climate crisis we face and celebrates sustainable initiatives and achievements to tackle it. For adventure travellers, Earth Day isn't just a date on the calendar; it's a call to action, an opportunity to recommit to sustainable practices, as well as a celebration of the breathtaking landscapes that inspire wanderlust.



The Adventure Connection aims to have a positive impact on the environment by becoming a leading voice, an educator and influencer of the industry on relevant sustainability issues, and joining the fight by implementing our own sustainable initiatives like our Sustainable Fam Trip initiative. Our partnership with responsible DMCs illustrates this commitment. Our DMC partners are at the forefront of responsible tourism and in honour of Earth Day, we wanted to share some of the incredible initiatives they take part in, with a focus on reducing plastic use as per this year's Earth Day theme ‘Planet v Plastics’.


Read on to find out more!


In Latin America

Boasting lush rainforests, towering mountains and expansive deserts, it’s easy to see why Latin America is an adventurer’s favourite. However, environmental issues in Latin America are diverse and complex, stemming from rapid urbanisation, industrialization and agricultural expansion. Many South American countries face significant challenges in managing plastic waste due to inadequate infrastructure and limited recycling facilities…


Peru

As one of the most well-established and experienced DMCs in Peru, COLTUR hold responsible travel and sustainability at the core of their ethos and are committed to identifying new opportunities that enable them to protect the natural environment.



Following an in-house evaluation process in August 2023, COLTUR introduced the COLTUR Plastic Zero initiative, aiming to minimise single-use plastics within their operations.

Upon arrival, the COLTUR team now provides each guest with a stainless-steel bottle which their guides assist in filling every morning before excursions. Additionally, they advise guests on refill points throughout the itinerary.


“Our pledge to sustainability is firm. From cleaning beaches in Lima to preserving natural areas in the Sacred Valley, COLTUR´s constant initiatives reflect our commitment to environmental stewardship and community care. Thanks to our COLTUR Plastic Zero initiative, we've already spared 26,000 plastic bottles from use, with projections to save nearly 200,000 by the year's end. Every action, no matter how small, contributes to our collective impact on the planet. Together, we're making a difference.”

Mariana Watson, Commercial Director.


Colombia 

Phoenix Travel Group is fully committed to developing sustainable practices and finding permanent sustainable solutions rather than just providing one-time aid. They go beyond tourism, with a percentage of all tours going to reforestation projects. So far, they have planted over 13,000 trees and delivered water to the Los Cocos community. And it doesn’t stop there…



Last November 2023, Phoenix Travel put their zero plastic policy into action, which has since stopped the use of and disposal of approximately 1,520 plastic bottles. This figure is based on the assumption of giving out one plastic bottle per person for each day of travel. Instead of plastic, they now offer glass bottles or encourage clients to bring their own reusable bottles. To further this initiative, Phoenix Travel are also giving their tour leaders and guides a sustainability bonus, encouraging them to work closely with the DMC’s various partners on the ground to maintain this policy. This bonus has proven to be very effective, as reflected in the significantly more positive feedback they've received from clients about their sustainability efforts.


“It has been a significant challenge to ensure that during our operation, no plastic bottles are provided, but gradually we have been educating our workforce, suppliers and customers. Currently, we are at 90% implementation and we anticipate reaching 100% by August 2024. Nevertheless, it has been immensely gratifying to learn that since we introduced the zero plastic policy, we have prevented the use and pollution of over 1500 plastic bottles.” - John, Phoenix Travel Operations.


Costa Rica

Swiss Travel is one of the longest established DMCs in Costa Rica and has been at the forefront of tourism evolution in the country. This DMC implements an abundance of sustainable initiatives into their regular practices: in-house, for clients and within the local community.



One initiative Swiss Travel partake in to reduce single use plastics is through their support of the Dona Tapa Project which they have been a part of since 2018. This organisation works to collect plastic caps that can be used to create walkways to the beaches of Costa Rica, improving access for people with disabilities. Since 2018, Swiss Travel has delivered 107.78 kilos of bottle caps collected from their clients and from within the office, totalling 807.54 kilos collected!


Additionally, every year this DMC visits a collection of schools in their local community to teach them about environmental problems, such as the use of water and waste management. In both topics, they include the situation of plastics and encourage students to reduce the use of plastic in the school and their houses.


Brazil

With over 25 years of experience and a strong client base, Ideia Tours has become one of Brazil’s leading DMCs with an international and professional team of travel experts. They carry the Travelife Certification of Excellence in Sustainable Tourism and are in the process of finalising the ISO9001 certification. 



In an effort to contribute to the war against plastic and minimise the use of single-use plastics - a menace that has spiralled wildly out of control in most urban areas - Ideia Tours now distributes reusable aluminium straws amongst its employees, guides and as a welcome gift for arriving travellers! They are also distributing reusable textile backpacks to diminish the use of plastics and at the same time offer clients something useful.



In Asia

Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, spanning diverse cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and varied economies. Sustainability in Asia is increasingly becoming a focal point as the region grapples with rapid economic growth and environmental challenges that have led to increased consumption and disposal of single-use plastics.


India

KVT Holidays strives to provide economic benefit to the communities and areas in which they operate, and reduce any negative social and environmental impact of their tours. They integrate responsible tourism practices throughout all of their trips and reduce the use of single-use plastics.



KVT asks all clients to bring their own water bottles when participating in a trip and also keeps a large 20 litre container in their vehicle where clients can refill their bottles. Their tour leaders are trained and guided to make sure that plastic is used as little as possible. When clients visit restaurants leaders make sure there is an absolute minimum or zero use of plastic cups, plastic glasses, plastic plates, plastic straws etc. Also on KVT’s trekking trips, where overnight camping is involved, they use boiled water for drinking, instead of buying mineral water bottles from the market.  


Vietnam

Footprint Travel’s reputation for excellence as a DMC is widely recognised and, for over 20 years, the company has been a leader in responsible travel in the region. Over the years, they have worked with several communities and organisations to help reach their sustainable travel goals - they also became Travelife Certified in 2016.



Footprint Travel actively participates in two key initiatives to give back to the planet: RefillMyBottle and Tree Planting. 


As a key ambassador for RefillMyBottle in Vietnam, Footprint is dedicated to expanding access to refill stations, raising awareness about plastic waste and encouraging widespread participation. Their company aims to combat plastic pollution and promote responsible tourism practices through financial support, marketing campaigns and global map updates.


Footprint Travel has also partnered with the Hang Kia - Pa Co Nature Reserve in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh, to plant 1,000 trees by 2024. This initiative aligns with the company's sustainability goals and aims to offset CO2 emissions, restore forests and support local communities. By engaging staff, guides, suppliers and business partners, they emphasise the importance of environmental conservation and community development.


Indonesia

Operating tours throughout Indonesia and Malaysia, Happy Trails Asia is a forward thinking, sustainable DMC. In 2016, they proudly became the first DMC in Indonesia to be Travelife certified in recognition for sustainable practices, which is at the core of what they do.


Happy Trails implements many sustainable and responsible tourism practices. Their waste management system involves sorting rubbish into categories like plastic, paper and food waste, which is then sent to their recycling partners to be repurposed and remade into other useful items such as fertiliser or bags etc. These items are then sold on, contributing to a circular economy in their community. Also, Happy Trails provides guidelines on how to recycle other daily use items like coffee sachets to be recycled correctly so that they can be repurposed. 



In addition to their waste management initiatives, Happy Trails Asia also assesses the annual tour CO2 emissions, the daily office operational energy and waste and uses this calculation to determine the number of trees to be planted as part of their compensation efforts, averaging around 20,000 trees planted on a yearly basis!



“I love to be part of sustainable practices as it helps me learn on how small acts can affect differently on our planet.” - Venny Dryvania, Group Operation Department.


In Africa

Africa is a land of immense diversity, encompassing stunning landscapes, vibrant cultures and rich biodiversity. With its abundant natural resources and diverse ecosystems, our local partners recognise the importance of balancing economic growth with environmental conservation. Efforts to promote sustainable agriculture, enhance water management and mitigate climate change impacts are gaining momentum across the continent.


South Africa

Highline is an extremely capable DMC and is actively involved in conservation as well as community projects.



For Earth Day this year, Highline has encouraged all employees to participate hands-on locally wherever they are based, rather than participate in one single project, including local beach/park clean-ups, recycling plastics, planting trees etc.


Additionally, Highline also support and work closely with The Strandloper Project which is very focussed on documenting plastics and other threats to biodiversity found on the South African coastline and in the reefs, in order to petition the government and private industry for evidence-based solutions at the source. 



Examples of activities includes an educational talk at Simbavati Fynbos-on-Sea and a walk along the beach in Sedgefield, collecting rubbish that is mostly plastics or microplastics as well as facilitating more research and education-based options for those with a scientific background and longer volunteer opportunities that involve coastal and reef (diving) collection of evidence and clean-ups, plus documentation of findings. 


Ghana

Based in Cape Coast, Ghana, Ashanti African Tours offers professionally led and ethically run tours throughout Ghana. They genuinely put local communities and the environment at the very heart of everything they do.



Ashanti  are looking to tackle environmental issues from all angles: from encouraging guests to deal with waste appropriately and limit their use of single-use plastics, to their inhouse practices including office recycling where they send their plastic waste to Trashy Bags, an NGO that makes products from plastic waste in Ghana. Ashanti also works to completely cut out the use of plastic bags in their office or on tours: when purchasing items, and with food for trips, they use reusable fabric bags. Any plastic bottles that have to be purchased are then given to remote communities to re-use as storage containers.


Also, at Ashanti’s project sites and in areas they visit, the team works to advise local communities as to how to reduce their plastic waste and use more organic materials instead of plastic when possible. As an example, most street vendors sell food in plastic bags so Ashanti encourages them to use local leaves or baskets instead.


Madagascar

Founded in 2007, Tamàna Company combines both cultural and natural wonders to create a unique Malagasy experience for visitors to this incredible destination and they believe it is their duty and responsibility to contribute to the conservation of the environment as well as to the education and personal development of local people.



Since 2023, Tamàna Company has been promoting the use of large 20 litre mineral water tanks, with water bottles that are supplied to their customers. This is to replace the use of several small plastic bottles, with the aim of minimising plastic waste on each tour. They also encourage customers to use tote bags instead of single-use plastic bags, as plastics are harmful not only to human health but also to the entire marine ecosystem, which is a sight to behold in Madagascar. They believe that saving the environment is essential to ensure that they can give future generations the chance to live in a world that is viable and sustainable.



Uganda & Rwanda

At Hornbill Treks and Safaris, travel ethics and support of the local communities are embedded in the very essence of the company. They are committed to reducing the use of single-use plastics on safari, providing a reusable metal water bottle for guests at the beginning of their safari. 


They are also the proud founders of the Kibira Reforestation Project which supports reforestation efforts. For every guest that travels with Hornbill Treks and Safaris, they plant a tree, with a focus on native species.  Guests are also invited to roll up their sleeves and participate, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to grow.  


Through strategic reforestation efforts, the Kibira Project not only seeks to combat deforestation but also to mitigate its far-reaching consequences, such as soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and adverse effects on climate patterns. 



"It's a wonderful way for travellers to get involved, they get to meet members of the local community, learn about the native species of trees and their importance, and see firsthand how reforesting the land can benefit the region." Andrew Wegoye, Hornbill Co-founder.


Kenya

Liberty Africa Safaris is a locally-owned, family run DMC that knows every inch of Kenya, and their commitment to sustainability is great too!



This expert DMC is committed to the total ban on single use plastics and supports the Kenyan government’s ban by offering guests refillable aluminium water bottles (which can be refill from water dispensers in their safari vehicles) along with woven tote bags to pack their safari essentials like hats, water bottles, programs etc. 


Liberty Africa Safaris also supports a variety of different sustainability programs and initiatives through marketing and encouraging their guests to get involved, including Ocean Sole which up-cycles washed up flip-flops found along the beaches and waterways in Kenya into artwork and other functional products, which in turn raises visual awareness of the pollution problem at hand and many more!


In Europe

Europe is a continent where ancient history meets modern innovation, drawing in travellers with its vibrant culture, world-renowned cuisine and breathtaking scenery. Europe is also leading the charge in implementing innovative initiatives to combat climate change and protect the environment, from ambitious renewable energy targets to stringent waste management practices.


Albania

Family owned and run, Elite Travel Group, has a vision to transform travel in Southeast Europe, particularly in Albania, through sustainable and innovative approaches. They are on a mission to revolutionise travel by integrating cutting-edge technology with eco-friendly practices.


At the core of ETG strategy is our self-built ERP solution, designed to optimise resource management and reduce waste. These technological advancements facilitate smarter decisions that prioritise the environment while enhancing the traveller's experience. From digital itineraries to minimise paper use to data analytics that improve operational efficiencies, every step is taken with sustainability in mind. 



Portugal

Founded in 2013, Splendid Evasion has a passion for Portugal’s heritage and natural highlights. They are on a mission to provide travellers with local interactions and experiences and are working hard to implement more sustainable practices into their operations.



Splendid Evasion are looking at more ways they can lower and reduce their single use plastic consumption while also bringing more ecological awareness to their team and travellers. They have set out to implement more sustainable practices in house eg by adding more recycle bins, coffee capsule bins, and new coffee mugs provided to all staff to help avoid the need for plastic cups. They are careful to select and make partnerships with more sustainable companies.



For the year ahead, Splendid Evasion will donate 0.35% of its turnover, divided between an environmental organisation and a social project, selected by their team. The team have also announced that soon they will be offering every client with their own Splendid Evasion water bottle upon arrival to be used during their trip, removing the need for plastic bottles.


As we celebrate Earth Day this year, and in the years to come, it is essential to reflect on sustainable tourism practices that promote environmental conservation and cultural preservation. Tourism can have a significant impact on our planet, from carbon emissions to habitat destruction. Therefore, it's crucial for travellers and industry stakeholders to prioritise eco-friendly initiatives such as responsible waste management, supporting local communities and opting for low-impact transportation. By embracing sustainable tourism practices, we can contribute to the protection of our planet's natural wonders and ensure that future generations can continue to explore and appreciate the beauty of our world just as we have done. 


You can find out more and get in contact with our expert DMCs partners here.

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