The overseas challenge event experience is like no other; the sights and sounds we encounter are captivating and we want to keep them that way for many more generations to come.
Yet, wherever we travel in the world the impact we have on the environment are both good and bad. On the one hand, tourism can provide vital support for communities helping to protect fragile habitats and threatened species; whilst on the other we damage the Earth’s climate with air travel.
As a company run by people with a passion for travel, the natural world and different cultures, it may not be surprising to learn we have long been committed to supporting community and conservation projects, and to minimising our own effect, or footprint, on the environment.
The increasing public focus on environmental issues has further strengthened our resolve to take even more steps to build on what we have already achieved. Consequently, we work with sustainability expert to look at our current objectives and advise how we can do more, and we have been delighted with the progress made so far.
Footprints in the sky…
The Ultimate Travel Company team is renowned for their unrivalled knowledge of the many countries where we operate. However, to sustain this expertise and discover new destinations, we are obliged to fly frequently. In fact, last year we flew the equivalent of 30 times around the globe, emitting some 219 tonnes of carbon dioxide. We try to minimise this impact by considering land journeys over short haul flights wherever practical, but some emissions are inevitable.
To neutralise greenhouse gas emissions it has become popular to buy carbon offsets – investments in projects that absorb or avoid emissions. These projects can be difficult to get right, and many never achieve the desired climatic benefits or can cause problems for local communities.
So, we were really pleased to continue working with Social Change and Development, a community based charity in India who have established an innovative scheme to absorb greenhouse gases through their small-scale community led tree planting scheme.
While we understand that tree planting isn’t the sole solution to climate change, we are supporting this charity where all the funds go directly to the project, and which we feel offers maximum benefits for the climate and the community.
We fully offset our own aforementioned emissions, and if you would like to do the same we are recommending an offset fee of £10 pp per Ultimate Challenge event. Please contact us at email@example.com for further information on this scheme.
…and on the earth
It is not just in the air that we are attempting to minimise our own effect on the environment, but in our office as well. The energy we use also contributes to climate change, and we are tackling this by simply trying to use less, whether it is through ensuring we switch off computers at night, or turning down the thermostat for example. We have also made the switch to renewable energy with Ecotricity, and are keeping a keen eye on being more efficient - using fewer resources, whether its water, electricity or paper. All brochures and company literature are dispatched in recycled and recyclable packaging.
There are few sights more upsetting and frustrating than litter, such as plastic bags or water bottles, strewn across pristine environments. Every-day waste that is not dealt with properly pollutes the landscape and threatens wildlife. With this in mind, we continue the success of our plastic bag free treks that we launched in 2006 in India. Participants taking part in the Himalayan charity trek were asked to avoid using plastic bags throughout the trip – a small but important step in tackling a big problem.
Of course being a responsible travel company is not just about the environment. It’s also about having a positive effect on the lives of the people and communities where we travel.
To help achieve this all of our ground operators overseas are asked to sign up to The Ultimate Travel Company’s ethical code. We employ only the best agents, and our code ensures that their high standards of service are mirrored in their employment ethos so that everyone, from drivers to porters, is treated fairly and with respect. The code also outlines our expectations for health and safety, applied with respect for local cultures and the local environment.
Helping where it’s most needed
Our charity initiative is all about putting something back into the communities we visit.
On our Ultimate Challenges, with the generous help of our challenge participants have supported a drinking well and toilets in a school in Tanzania, refitted a school in Peru with new work tables and chairs, chalkboards, and provided essential classroom equipment and clothing in many other schools and orphanages around the world.
Our policy has been to support projects that aim to improve education, provide access to health services and to conserve nature. Providing young people with a decent, full education is essential for the future of any society.
Access to medical facilities in many areas of the world can be can be near impossible. We help fund Kenya’s Lewa Conservancy dental clinic so they can provide free treatment to the local, but widely spread communities. The relief that this provides to the men, women and children of the area is tremendous - something we can all smile at! We have also supported similar projects in India, providing essential eye tests to isolated communities.
As travellers, we share a joy at the wonders of nature, and it is because of this passion that we continue to financially support the work of the Galapagos Conservation Trust, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya, and Tusk Trust.
We will continue to promote these great causes, and always provide you the opportunity to join us in supporting them.
We are also delighted to be the first travel company to continue supporting a great initiative called StuffYourRucksack.com, who has set up a website to enable travellers to give practical help to places they visit by bringing things that are really needed.
Our continued and growing commitment to responsible tourism is something we are very proud of, and something we think sets us apart from our competition. If you would like to know more about anything you have read here, please do get in touch.