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Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award 2012

In November 2012 we received a Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award for being the ‘Best Tour Operator for Promoting Responsible Tourism’. The prestigious gong was presented to us in recognition of our on-going dedication to responsible tourism.

Judges were particularly impressed with our ability to engage with travellers. For example, in 2012 we successfully piloted ‘RT cards’ on our tours to India. We give the cards out at the beginning of the tours and they outline what can be done to help the local communities and environments that we visit.

Our success however, is by no means down to new initiatives alone. When deciding on the winner of the award, judges were impressed by the thoroughness of our approach to placing responsible tourism principles at the core of our business. Responsible tourism has been at the heart of Explore since we were founded over 31 years ago and our principles remain the same to this day - small groups, low impact, and above all, respect for the environment, people and cultures.

Responsible tourism means so much more to us than just identifying and mitigating the impact of tourism on a destination. We make certain that local people benefit economically from the tourism we create through employing them as leaders, guides and drivers. We ensure that our tour leaders are properly trained, receive a fair wage, and are recognised for their contribution through our annual Tour Leader Award scheme. In addition to this, we use locally owned hotels, restaurants and suppliers, and include homestays and local families in our itineraries wherever possible.

As we have developed and evolved over the 31 years, so has our responsible tourism policy. We believe that being a responsible business doesn’t begin and end abroad. In our head office we have implemented initiatives such as a Bra recycling scheme, waterless urinals and have laid carpets made from recycled tyres. In more recent years, we have offered increasing support to local charities and colleges, and have this year launched a new Sustainable Tourism MSc in association with the University of Surrey*.

We’re extremely proud to have won this prestigious award. For further information on our responsible tourism policy, please visit our Responsible Travel section.

To watch the ceremony in which we were presented the award, please see the video below.