9 November, 2012
Explore named ‘Best Tour Operator for Promoting Responsible Tourism’
Explore is pleased to announce that it has been named the ‘Best Tour Operator for Promoting Responsible Tourism’ at the 2012 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards. The prestigious award was presented to Explore’s Product and Operations Director, John Telfer, in recognition of the company’s on-going dedication to social, economic and environmental sustainability.
The ceremony, which was held at Wednesday’s World Responsible Tourism Day, during London’s four day World Travel Market, celebrated the shining stars of responsible tourism – the individuals, organisations and destinations working innovatively with local cultures, communities and biodiversity.
Judges were particularly impressed with Explore’s ability to engage with their travellers. For example, this year the company successfully piloted ‘RT cards’ on their tours to India. The cards are given to customers at the beginning of their tour and outline what they can do to help the community and environment that they’re visiting. These are just small but effective initiatives that benefit the local communities and environments visited on Explore tours.
Explore’s success at the ceremony is by no means only down to new initiatives. When deciding on the winner of the award, judges were impressed by the thoroughness of Explore’s approach to placing responsible tourism principles at the core of its business model. Responsible tourism has been at the heart of the company since it was founded over 31 years ago and its principles remain the same - small groups, low impact, and above all, respect for the environment, people and cultures.
For Explore, responsible tourism is much more than just identifying and mitigating the impact of tourism on a destination. The company makes certain that local people benefit economically from the tourism it creates through employing them as leaders, guides and drivers. It ensures that its tour leaders are properly trained, receive a fair wage, and are recognised for their contribution through their Tour Leader Award scheme. In addition to this, Explore uses locally owned hotels, restaurants and suppliers, and includes homestays and local families in its itineraries wherever possible.
As Explore has developed and evolved over 31 years, so has its responsible tourism policy. Explore believes that being a responsible business doesn’t begin and end abroad. At its Hampshire-based head office, Explore has implemented initiatives such as a Bra recycling scheme, waterless urinals and has laid carpets made from recycled tyres. In more recent years, Explore has offered increasing support to local charities and colleges, and has this year launched a new Sustainable Tourism MSc in association with the University of Surrey*.
With regards to winning the award, John Telfer commented, “We are extremely proud to have been named as the Best Tour Operator for Promoting Responsible Tourism. Responsible tourism is entwined in everything we do, and it’s fantastic that this has been recognised by key figures in the industry”.
He continued “We believe that by operating responsibly our customers will get the best experience. If you look after the destination and treat it responsibly, then your groups will be welcomed back and they will get a better experience. It’s a virtuous circle”.
For further information on Explore, visit www.explore.co.uk or call 0844 499 0901.
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Notes to editors
For further information on the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards, visit www.responsibletravel.com/awards/
*The ‘Sustainable Tourism MSc in association with Explore Worldwide’ started in September 2012.
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