Ethical Travel Company

Himalayan Footsteps® believe in our role in society and ability to improve the world via our responsibility to practice good stewardship, act ethically, and bring about a transformation in the marketplace that honours communities, customers, suppliers, employees, competitors, the disenfranchised, poor and the needy.

Our approach to being an ethical travel company started from the very first idea that Olly Margry had to start Himalayan Footsteps®. This travel company was created as a reply to poorly operated, overpriced, and overcrowded holidays in Nepal where the travel companies gave nothing or very little back to their destinations.

To even write up a “code of ethics” and publish it feels uncomfortable for us because we are at risk of allegations for displaying it only for public relations, nevertheless, our belief in our ability to bring about transformation in our marketplace and improve the world justifies making public why and how we are an ethical travel company.

The travel market per se is regulated and there are laws to varying degrees in different countries, but still unethical practices exist. We believe the law has a limited purpose that does have a place in helping, that needs strengthening, but ultimately the law is a moral minimum rather than a ceiling, and that you can’t legislate morality. A “code of ethics” and human rights policy is not enough, legal is not our litmus test.

  • We are called to be good stewards of earth;
  • To take an accommodating approach, to recognise that ethical issues can be morally ambiguous situations;
  • To push back unethical practices in our marketplace;
  • To work together in partnerships and empower our neighbours;
  • To be guided in every decision by holiness, justice and love;
  • And to be transparent about our finances.

Ethical Policy

The Himalayan Footsteps® ethical policy is a working document with an appointed responsible employee who improves on area development by monitoring key performance indicators from an ethical perspective. Our policy is in three main areas:

  1. Our Workplace
  2. The Destination
  3. The Customer

Our Workplace

Save Energy

Switch off all electronic devices when leaving the office, no stand-by mode
Use energy saving modes on screens
Double glazing windows and insulated window frames
Heating only used when a room is occupied
Lighting only used when a room is occupied
Energy saving lightbulbs

In Development
Solar panels / renewable energy sources.

Reduce Waste

Avoid unnecessary waste
Cloud file storage
Reuse misprints as notepaper
Digital communications externally and internally, not paper
Documents are not printed unless absolutely necessary
Double sided printing
Online statements for utilities and banking and digital editions of brochures & magazines
Lunches in reusable containers

In Development
Influence office suppliers to reduce amount of packaging
Photocopier to copy on both sides of paper

Recycle

Recycle paper, cardboard, cans, plastic and glass
Use of plastic bin bags to a minimum

In Development
Compost food waste
Create a garden at office for compost

Offset Carbon

Offset ethically http://www.climatestewards.org/
Offset emissions from electricity and work related transport journeys

In Development
Company scheme to offset employee home emissions

Buy Environmentally

FSC certified paper
FSC certified toilet roll
Environmentally friendly cleaning products

In development
Fairtrade consumables. E.g. tea, coffee, sugar

Employee Education and Empowerment

Weekly staff meeting agenda about improving our workplace ethically
Appointed responsible person for company ethics
Recruit and hire well
Toilet twinning http://www.toilettwinning.org/
Daily prayer and meditation

In development
Instigate ethical training into employee development plans

The Destination

Local Staff (Community)

Recruit and hire well
Able to join a workers union
Health and safety training
Crisis management training for managers
Minimise risks in working environments
Avoid unreasonable workloads
Reasonable working hours
Fair conditions and wages
Tips not to supplement wages
Avoid discrimination for reasons of race, colour, gender, disability or religion
Avoid discipline by means of harsh financial penalty
Support schemes which improve working practice and conditions in our destinations

Local People (Community)

Trade with locally-owned hotels, restaurants, and shops
Keep cash within the local economy
Type and scale of our operation is appropriate to local conditions
Encourage true conversation and exchange, avoid the “human zoo”
Support practices and revival of local handicraft, skills and traditions
Inclusive social experiences avoid discrimination for reasons of race, colour, gender, disability or religion

Charities and Projects (Community)

Fulbright School, Bhaktapur, Nepal
Village Home Stays, Chang Patan, Nepal
A Rocha UK
Toilet Twinning
UNWTO Sustainable Development Goals
Travellers Against Plastic

In development
Child sex tourism training
First aid training
Exploiting children training
Irresponsible wildlife watching training
Irresponsible hiking & biking training

Pollution & Waste (Environment)

Type and scale of our operation is appropriate to local conditions
Offset carbon emissions
Use well-maintained vehicles
Encourage use of air conditioning only when necessary
Encourage habit of refilling water bottles
Put free and clean drinking water sources in hotels
Dispose of all waste responsibly

Hotels (Environment)

Training on environmental policy and good practice
Responsible waste disposal
Encourage use of renewable energies and rainwater collection
Local purchasing and sourcing of ingredients
Encourage guests to save water
Recycle
Reduce food waste
Audit environmental impacts and plan reduction in negative impacts

Animals and Wildlife (Environment)

Avoid intentional visits to institutions or activities that may cause harm or distress to animals, such as: Zoos and Aquaria (which in most countries have no minimal standards for the animals), Dolphinaria, “Swim with” programmes, Animal performances, Crocodile farms or wrestling, Turtle hatcheries, Bear pits and dancing bears, Bird of prey displays, Circuses, Tiger farms, Bear Bile Farms, Snake Charming, Animal fights
Visits are reviewed for standards to ensure they are true sanctuaries, not zoos in disguise
Educate customers about responsible interaction with animals they might encounter

Cultural Heritage Preservation

Inform customers about customs & culture
Develop ethical tour itineraries
Marketing that encourages ethical forms of tourism

Trekking Impacts and Sustainability

In popular areas:
Concentrate use on existing trails
Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy

In wild areas:
Disperse use to prevent the creation of trails
Avoid places where impact is just beginning to show
Walk on planted ground if there is no other choice. Where a walk crosses a field or planted area, recommend our groups go carefully at the edge, in single file and ask permission from the owner first if possible
Purchase equipment and food locally
Zero tolerance to litter, carry out waste, dispose of responsibly
Small group sizes
Engage & support environmental projects.
Collect litter from trails

In Development
Low-impact travel training
Flora, fauna & wildlife knowledge sharing
Group litter picking action days

The Customer

Environment

Refill and/or purify water instead of buying new
Dispose of cigarette ends responsibly
Dispose of food waste responsibly
Use environmentally friendly bathroom products
Conserve water and electricity
Work within the limitations of local plumbing

Culture and People

Learn and respect the traditions and taboos of your host country
Arrive with a sense of the social, political and environmental issues faced by the people you are visiting
Leave any preconceptions about the world at home
Take the time to learn basic courtesy phrases
Seek permission to take photographs of people and respect privacy
Learn about ethical gift giving
Support local conservation and community projects
Budget for tips

In Development
Busting myths of ethical/responsible tourism

Let's get you what you're looking for!

With the speed and attention from a family run business, you can experience enchanting lands in an ethical way with our personalised travel planning system. Get in touch today.
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