Responsible Travel Policy
Vietnam Spirit Travel has had a Responsible Travel policy from its
inception five years ago. We have gained respect from the locals because
of it and are privileged to work with them so that you can visit some of
's most remote regions. As a traveller, you also have a role to play
in continuing Vietnam Spirit Travel's efforts on your trip. These
guidelines aren't intended to be overbearing, but informative, so that
your travel experience is beneficial for you and the places you visit.
Spirit Travel staff
"Our Responsible Travel Policy begins with a mention of our staff,
integral to our Responsible Travel Policy and a key to its
firmly believe that the most valuable assets in our organisation are
our staff, and endeavour to train, treat and remunerate staff in
accordance with this belief.
staff our Vietnam Spirit Travel offices with local people, wherever
offices have a long term aim of filling management roles with
competent local staff.
train our Vietnam Spirit Travel local staff in
internationally-useful skills, which provide a base for meaningful
and life-long careers.
implement cross-cultural local staff exchange across our
provide staff in our Vietnam Spirit Travel offices with above
industry-standard remuneration packages, often including social
employ local tour leaders who live and work in
, and who are embracing and learning about the country to which they
train our tour leaders and local guides to share their knowledge of
cultural and other local issues in a balanced, informative way.
nationwide offices endeavour to increase the number of contracted
- our operations
"Our offices put us in the special position of being able to implement
most effectively our Responsible Travel Policy."
Vietnam Spirit Travel offices operate legally and comply fully with
local tax, labour, and tourism laws and regulations.
office bases in
make it easier for us to lobby local authorities and the tourism
industry on matters pertaining to responsible tourism.
make it more practical for us to demand that suppliers act in
accordance with responsible travel principles. We have a history of
demanding responsible behaviour from our suppliers and of working
with our suppliers to develop standards in the tourism industry.
do not knowingly work with suppliers who flagrantly breach local
laws or regulations or who act unethically.
practice a formal process for booking and providing services to
people who are disabled or who have special needs.
- our style of travel
"The Vietnam Spirit Travel philosophy is premised on a belief that
Group Journey and tailored travel arrangements allow for more genuine
experiences with local people and their environments, and allow us to
avoid the offensive traits of mass tourism."
firmly believe that our emphasis on Group Journey and tailored
travel with a focus on local experiences allows for opportunities
for cultural exchange and the dissemination of information between
travellers and local people.
Group Journeys comprise people of varied nationalities and walks of
life, allowing for cross cultural learning within groups.
intentionally avoid the trappings of mass tourism such as organised
shopping stops, dining exclusively at hotel restaurants, and
sightseeing from large buses only.
do not plan tours to destinations which cannot cope with the
presence of our travellers.
number of our
itineraries include home stay experiences, allowing for
opportunities for social interaction and the sharing of ideas across
people from different backgrounds.
tour leaders and local guides and our city guides advise on
appropriate dress code and behaviour in culturally important places.
"Vietnam Spirit Travel is committed to reducing and recycling waste in
its own offices and to working with suppliers on a long term basis in
the implementation of environmentally responsible initiatives."
Vietnamese office staffs practice double-sided printing, and recycle
printer cartridges, whenever possible.
stand alone offices turn off air-conditioning units when they are
not required, and turn off lights and PCs when offices are not
have fitted-out our offices with minimum use of hard wood timber.
schedule environmentally friendly cyclo tours in
Ho Chi Minh city
(drivers tend to be socio-economically disadvantaged, and so this
measure also realises social and economic benefits).
"Vietnam Spirit Travel is a significant employer of people in the
areas in which we operate. Our growth is directly linked to the
livelihoods of people who help us to provide ground services, and is
indirectly linked to the livelihoods of many more people."
overwhelming majority of our suppliers (hotels, vehicle providers,
guide and other suppliers) are staffed predominately with local
endeavour to work with legally registered and tax compliant
of our group and tailored itineraries take people to the provinces,
so tourist expenditure benefits broader geographic areas, rather
than cities alone.
tour leaders and local guides encourage travellers to purchase water
from local vendors (rather than from hotel mini-bars) and to eat at
promulgate a tipping policy for local guides and drivers which
rewards excellent service.
Guide to Responsible Travel
we hope that your holiday in
will be stimulating, relaxing and even exciting, we also hope that you
will get more out of your stay in this wonderful land of the world than
rest and recreation. As part of our Vietnam Spirit Travel Responsible
Travel Policy, we've prepared some pointers which we hope will make
for more informed, more 'responsible' holidays.
Read up. Learn about your holiday destination before you get on
the plane. Read widely and read critically about the history, culture
and peoples of
. Arriving in
with some understanding about the background the country you are
visiting will help you get more out of your travels and your encounters
with local people and sites. You will suffer less culture shock on
arrival, be less likely to make cultural faux pas, and you will be more
equipped to deal with the vagaries and vicissitudes that go with being
in a vastly 'different' part of the world!
a lengua. Pick up a phrase book, ask your tour leader or local
guide, or mix with the locals. Learn a few key phrases and a passage of
smiles and fun will open up. You will shop smarter, gain a better
insight into cultural nuances, and enjoy more enriching experiences with
Shower short. Minimise your shower time so that
water resources are used sparingly, and do not bath. Although much of
is subject to an annual monsoon downpour, it is not unusual for rains to
fall locally, inundating some parts of a county with water while leaving
nearby areas parched dry and in drought. In tourist boom cities the
sheer volume of tourist arrivals is creating unprecedented demand on
water and other resources. There are other things you can do to save
water - consider using one plate only at buffet meals so that use of
washing water (and detergent) is minimised.
for tomorrow. Keep your use of towels and linen to a minimum. Speak
to your tour leader or local guide to request that linen is not changed
daily by hotel housekeeping services. This will not only help to reduce
the amount of water used during your visit but will also reduce use of
off the lights. Turn off lights when not in the room, and turn off
the TV when no one is watching it. Air-conditioning is a huge energy
user, so - most importantly - do not use air-conditioning unless you
banter. Bargaining is a cultural norm in
, and our advice is to approach your shopping with a measure of good
humour and fun. A fair deal is one in which you are happy with the price
you paid, and the seller is happy with the price received. There is
no' right or wrong' price when bargaining. Bargain with a little
compassion, and aim to leave any shopping experience with smiles all
plastic. Keep your use of plastic bags and packaging to a minimum.
does not have the facilities or the capacity to engage in mass
recycling, so this means that plastic waste is usually buried. Without
light, buried plastic can take literally hundreds of years to break
down. Consider shopping with a cotton carry bag, or re-use a plastic
bag. Say no to plastic straws in drinks (and learn how to say this in
the local language!)
in provinces. Spread your shopping across your holiday destination,
outside the usual shopping meccas, as well as in places rightly famous
for their shopping opportunities. Spending in villages and the provinces
will help spread the direct benefits of tourism across wider geographic
friendly to forests. Don't purchase hard wood furniture
manufactured from illegally felled lumber or made from lumber of unknown
origin. Hard wood deforestation has scarred vast tracts of
in recent decades and has profound social, economic and environmental
consequences for local populations. Arguably, it also accelerates the
rate of global warming.
the protected. Do not buy sea shells, coral, or animal parts (tiger
teeth, bear claws) which are likely to have been obtained illegally, or
which are sold illegally. Don't buy captive animals or birds in order
to set them free, as this perpetuates demand for an unnecessary, cruel
practice. Do not take photographs of captured or performing wildlife.
socially. Wherever possible, shop in outlets that support community
groups such as women's projects, disabled groups or similar. Ask your
tour leader or local guide to tell you where these places can be found.
Avoid continual eating in hotels. Eat outside at good local
restaurants. Doing so will help spread your tourist dollar directly to
local, smaller scale enterprises and often rewards you with a better,
more authentic meal experience! Purchase your water from local
restaurants or street vendors rather than from hotel mini-bars. Do not
use wooden disposable chopsticks (in
alone it is estimated that 120 million sets are used daily).
to staples. Many restaurants in
serve animals which are protected species. Shy away from the novelty
appeal that goes with ordering an exotic food. Do not order wild animal
species from restaurant menus; consume instead meats and fish which are
Care for culture. Travel with respect to locally practised
customs and beliefs. Accept alternate ways of thinking and of doing
things; embrace and find intrigue in the differences that define a
culture. After all, the world would be a boring place if we all did
things and thought the same way. Remember . you are travelling
precisely in order to seek out new sites and sounds. In
you will need patience, you will need to understand the concept of
'face', and you will never get anywhere by losing your cool. Your
tour leader or local guide will provide you with information on cultural
norms specific to your holiday destination. Be particularly aware that
drunkeness, swearing or public displays or affection are viewed as
inappropriate and offensive by many Vietnamese people.
to impress. People in
generally dress conservatively. Women tend not to wear revealing tops
nor skirts or pants that show their knees and even men will usually
prefer long pants to shorts (smart knee-length shorts are fine).
'Follow suit' and dress with a sense of decorum. As well as showing
respect to local dress norms you may also find that you are afforded
better all round reception from local people, and better service in
shops. First impressions count for a lot in
, and your dress style presents a visible and prominent façade to
everyone you come in contact with.
with sensitivity. A camera can be used as a fun social ice breaker,
but to some people it can also be an invasive and offensive tool. Try to
be discreet, ask permission before taking a photo of someone, and
respect the wishes of people who clearly do not want to be photographed.
Consider sending photos back to your subjects (through your tour leader)
but do not go back on your word when you do this. Think very carefully
about the implications - for your subject and for future travellers -
before paying for a photo.
only alms. Do not give money, presents or candy to children on the
street, at home, or in village communities. Gift giving creates
inequality within communities and encourages children to start begging.
Giving money (even to children who offer to act as guides) can also make
children the primary income earners in their family, resulting in
long-term school truancy. Giving money to adult beggars is a slightly
different proposition, and is more often socially normal in
. The appropriateness of giving money to adults is often
situation-specific, so defer to the advice of your tour leader or local
guide. Gifts such as text books and pencils are best given to
organisations (such as schools or clinics) rather than to individuals,
as distribution through a community channel is more likely to occur
equitably, and with dignity.
a cyclo. In your free time, consider getting around by man-powered
cyclo. As well as being environmentally friendly modes of transport, the
drivers of these distinctively Vietnamese vehicles are often from the
poorer stratum of society and can benefit economically from the
patronage you give them.
in for a charity. Vietnam Spirit Travel supports the work of a
number of charitable organisations working in
, all of whom would be enormously grateful for any financial donation
you could make. Speak to your tour leader or local guide for specific
information on how to donate to organisations which would appreciate
sensibly. When snorkelling, diving, or observing marine mammals such
as turtles, observe environmental guidelines. Never touch or break
living coral! Never touch or feed any marine animal or fish.