Sigo Adventures and Tours has been and is committed to maintaining our integrity, living our values and ensuring that we're fulfilling the core purpose of our business.
This being, to operate in a responsible manner, incorporating the principles of sustainable development in the way we provide our travellers with real life experiences. However, these values are more than just words on a page; they are ingrained in the culture and daily operations of office and tour.
In addition, we expect our staff and travellers to demonstrate the principles of responsible travel - respecting people, cultures and local environments; in the distribution of wealth; in good will and cross-cultural sharing; and in contributing to sustainable development.
SUSTAINABILITY POLICY TOUR OPERATORS
1. Sustainability Management & Legal compliance
Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to sustainability management by;
- Having an employee appointed who is responsible for sustainability coordinator tasks;
- Having a sustainable mission statement that is communicated to customers, partners and suppliers;
- Having an accessible and written sustainability policy that aims for a reduction of the negative social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts of the company’s activities; and includes employee related health and safety aspects;
- Collaborating and actively being involved in external forums and working groups which are supportive to sustainability in tourism;
- Conducting a baseline assessment of the company’s performance on sustainable practices;
- Having sustainability guidelines and assessment system in place to identify the sustainability performance of key suppliers/partners;
- Having a sustainability action plan with clear targets, actions, measures, responsibilities and time planning;
- Developing documented procedures to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the sustainability policy, objectives and targets;
- Ensuring company’s transparency in sustainability by public reporting and communicating;
- Ensuring that all staff are fully aware of our Sustainability Policy and are committed to implementing and improving it.
Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to complying with all national legislation, regulations and codes of practice.
2. Internal management: social policy & human rights
Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to sustainable internal management by having clear written and well-communicated social policy by;
- Granting employees the freedom of employment and contract termination with advance notice (ideally minimum one month) and without penalty unless or otherwise.
- Including labour conditions according to national labour law and a job description in the employment contract;
- Mentioning the wage rate in the contract which is equal to or above the national legal wage;
- Determining and compensating of overtime working hours based on mutual agreement;
- Providing medical and liability insurance according to the national law;
- Granting employees fixed paid yearly holiday and sick leave and unpaid annual leave allowance;
- Having health and safety policies for employees which complies to national legal standards;
- Having first aid sets and trained staff available at all relevant locations;
- Obeying to national governing laws concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment;
- Having documented effective procedures in place for employees to voice out their complaints and expectations;
- Having a clear disciplinary procedure that is effectively communicated to employees;
- Having a measurement system for employee satisfaction on a regular basis;
- Providing periodic guidance and training for employees on roles, rights and responsibilities regarding health and safety issues. This includes fire and relevant natural disasters;
- Creating opportunities for students that participate in traineeship/internship/apprenticeship;
- Encouraging employment opportunities for persons with special needs;
Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to practice human rights by;
- Declaring not to hinder trade union membership, collective labour negotiations and representation of members by trade unions;
- Participating and complying with (sector wide) collective labour condition negotiation structures (if locally existing)
- Prohibiting discriminations, regarding recruitment, conditions of employment, access to training and senior positions, or promotion in terms of gender, race, age, disability, ethnicity, religion/beliefs or sexual orientation;
- Ensuring that all employees have an equal chance and access to resources and opportunities for personal development through regular training, education.
3. Internal management: environment and community relations
Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to environment and community relations by;
- Actively reducing the use of disposable and consumer goods;
- Favouring the purchase of sustainable goods and services, office and catering supply, give-aways and merchandise;
- Purchasing products in bulk, in order to reduce the amount of packaging materials;
- Setting copy and printing machines by default to double-sided printing or other forms of paper saving modes;
- Using cleaning materials which are non-hazardous, non-eutrophic and biodegradable and are certified with an Eco label, if locally available;
- Printing brochures on environmentally friendly paper, with a printing company that works with a certified environmental management system, if locally available at reasonable costs;
- Implementing measurements to reduce brochure wastage or an 'internet only' policy;
- Having an active commitment to measure, monitor and reduce energy consumption;
- Calculating and compensating CO2 emissions and compare different periods;
- Purchasing green energy and energy efficient lighting for all areas, when available;
- Switching off Lights and equipment when not in use, using automatic switch on/off system with timers or movement sensors and setting equipment by default in the energy saving mode, where feasible;
- Preferring low energy equipment when buying new items, including considerations of cost and quality;
- Using sustainable water sourcing, which does not adversely affect environmental flows;
- Taking measures to reduce the amount of packaging materials and not provide non-recyclable or non-biodegradable package materials;
- Taking action to reduce the amount of (non-re-fillable) plastic bottles of drinking water for office use;
- Implementing waste reducing methods when using ink and toner cartridges for printing and copying, whenever feasible;
- Implementing practices to minimise pollution from its buildings (as far as being able to be controlled by the company);
- Measuring and reducing staff related travel and use more sustainable modes of transport;
- Financially encouraging employees to use public transport or sustainable means of transport;
- Reducing transport related impacts by tele-work, tele/video meetings, work-at-home policies or other means;
- Maintaining and properly checking motorized company vehicles, to reduce emissions and energy use and make sure they comply with the legal emission standards;
- Providing periodic guidance, training and/or information to all staff members, about their roles and responsibilities with respect to internal environmental practices;
- Complying with land use, zoning and protected or heritage area laws and regulations; when planning, designing, constructing, renovating, operating or demolishing company buildings and infrastructure;
- Sustainably planning, designing and constructing of new buildings or renovations, on locally appropriate and feasible sustainable practices and materials;
- Contributing to the protection and preservation of local historical, archaeological, culturally, and spiritually important properties and sites, and not impede access to them by local residents by reporting them to the relevant authorities.
4. Partner agencies
Based on an inventory of our key partner agencies [the organisation] has developed and implemented a policy to improve sustainability of our partner agencies. Our aim is to make sustainable development concrete to each and every partner within our business.
Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to this by;
- Keeping a list of the sustainability practices of partner accommodations and agents;
- Only working with organisations who are trying and truly implementing sustainability in their tourism policy;
- Minimalizing the ecologic footprint of the office by travelling mainly via public transport, working as paperless as possible, separating waste, and to make use of certified recycled paper;
- Paying attention to the local benefits of communities when selecting local accommodations and their social policy for employees;
- Raising awareness among key partners on sustainable consumption by organising (online) campaigns and trainings;
- Informing key partners on the Travelife and national tourism standards;
- Having a cooperation contract including an annex of the national code of conduct for local partners to encourage their practices towards sustainability;
- Evaluating the sustainability practices regularly of our key partners to ensure their practices are truly sustainable;
- Informing key partners about the travel companies’ sustainability policy and that they are expected to comply with it and/or communicate it to final customers where relevant;
- Including key sustainability clauses in contracts with inbound/receptive partners;
- Motivating incoming/inbound partners to participate in sustainability trainings for travel companies;
- Having a written contract with partner agencies;
- Including clauses in the partner contracts that enable contract partners to end the contractual agreement prematurely if the partner company does not take adequate measures to prevent sexual exploitation of children within the direct supply chain;
- Ensuring that partner companies comply with all relevant national laws protecting the rights of employees.
Sigo Adventures and Tours tries to ensure that vehicles used on tours do not cause more than average pollution. We believe that transport is an important aspect of sustainable tourism, and we do our best to decrease the average pollution level.
Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to this by;
- Selecting the most sustainable options considering price and comfort when selecting transport options to the destination;
- Including sustainable (public) transport to the point of departure for the international/long distance journey;
- Considering and giving preference to more sustainable alternatives when selecting transport options for transfers and excursions in the destination, taking into account price, comfort, and practical considerations;
- Integrating and/or promoting one or more sustainable holiday products/packages based on a recognised methodology, including sustainable transport, sustainable accommodations, and sustainable activities.
Sigo Adventures and Tours tries to achieve a tourism supply chain that is fully sustainable. The partner accommodations play an important role in achieving this, and are stimulated and motivated to adapt sustainable practices.
Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to this by;
- Selecting accommodations that comply with sustainability and quality standards with a special focus on the following items;
- Do they have a signed sustainability contract?
- Do they have a water saving program?
- Do they have an energy saving program?
- Do they have a waste management program?
- Do they have an energy reduction system?
- Do they have a sustainable supply chain?
- Do they have a child protection policy?
- Do they conduct corporate social responsibility (CSR activities)?
- Do they train employees in Health & Safety?
- Motivating and encouraging partner accommodations to become sustainably certified;
- Preferring and selecting accommodations that are locally owned and managed;
- Selecting accommodations that employ local communities;
- Having accommodations provide evidence clarifying their sustainability goals and strategies;
- Having accommodations sign a sustainability addendum;
- Encouraging accommodations to follow best practices/trainings on responsible tourism;
- Encouraging accommodations to fill in the sustainability questionnaire to gain insight in their practises;
- Clearly and actively communicating our sustainability objectives and requirements regarding accommodations to contracted and other relevant accommodations;
- Giving clear preference to accommodations that work with internationally acknowledged (e.g. GSTC recognised) and/or Travelife certification;
Including standard sustainability clauses in all contracts with accommodation providers that focus on child labour, anti-corruption and bribery, waste management and protection of biodiversity;
- Offering incentives to accommodations that are actively engaging in sustainability;
- Ensuring that through our accommodation supply chain, the rights of children are respected and safeguarded by;
· Having a clause in contracts throughout the value chain stating a common repudiation and zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation of children;
· Having a clause dedicated to this aspect in their contract that enables the travel company to end the contractual agreement prematurely if the accommodation supplier does not take adequate measures to prevent sexual exploitation of children;
· Training employees in children’s rights, the prevention of sexual exploitation and how to report suspected cases;
· Supporting, collaborating with, and engaging stakeholders in the prevention of sexual exploitation of children
- Working with accommodations and restaurants that incorporate elements of local art, architecture, or cultural heritage; while respecting the intellectual property rights of local communities;
- Terminating cooperation with accommodation in case of clear evidence that contracted accommodations jeopardize the provision of integrity of basic services such as food, water, energy, healthcare, or soil to the neighbouring companies.
7. Excursions and Activities
Sigo Adventures and Tours values animal and community welfare extremely high and aims at tours that only leave a minor footprint. We are safeguarding the authenticity of the communities and the natural environment, and are strongly against harming wildlife and polluting the environment.
Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to this by;
- Having an inventory of environmentally or culturally sensitive excursions which are offered in each destination;
- Advising guests on behaviour standards during excursions and activities with a main focus on respecting the local culture, nature, and environment;
- Communicating our sustainability objectives and requirements to contracted and other relevant excursion providers by distributing this information via code of conducts, representative agents, social media, email, discussions, and/or meetings, to minimise negative visitor impact and maximise enjoyment;
- Not offering any excursions that harm humans, animals, plants, natural resources such as water and energy, or which are socially and culturally unacceptable;
- Not offering any excursions in which wildlife is held captive, except for properly regulated activities in compliance with local, national, and international law;
- Not being involved with companies that harvest, consume, display, sell, or trade wildlife species unless it is part of a regulated activity that ensures that their utilisation is sustainable and in compliance with local, national, and international law;
- Having skilled and/or certified guides to guide our guests in sensitive cultural sites, heritage sites, or ecologically sensitive destinations;
- Promoting and advise our guests on excursions and activities which directly involve and support local communities by purchasing services or goods, traditional crafts and local (food) production methods, or visiting social projects;
- Promoting and advising our guests on excursions and activities which support local environment and biodiversity such as visiting protected areas or environmental protection projects.
8. Tour leaders, local representatives and guides
Sigo Adventures and Tours aims at involving as many locals as possible by employing them in the tourism business. We stand for a fair and safe working environment that supports and respects local communities.
Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to this by;
- Ensuring that all employees have a written employment contract, including labour conditions and a job description, and fully understand the terms and conditions;
- Preferring to work with local tour leaders, local representatives, local tour guides, porters, drivers, cooks, and other local staff in case of equal ability, and provide training as required;
- Ensuring that our local partners comply with all applicable international, national, and local laws and regulations, industry minimum standards, and any other relevant statutory requirements whichever requirements are more stringent;
- Paying tour leaders, local representatives, guides, porters and other local staff contracted by us at least a living wage that is equal to or above the legal minimum or relevant industry standard;
- Ensuring that our tour guides, hosts, and other employees under contract are qualified and trained regularly;
- Ensuring that our local employees are informed on relevant aspects of our sustainability policy and comply with it, by newsletters, references or supplements to contracts, emails, or training and information sessions;
- Offering a special sustainable travel module in the trainings program for local tour guides and hosts, in which the main responsible tourism aspects are brought to attention followed by the role expected from the employees. This module will also include knowledge regarding the destination and its relevant sustainability aspects;
- Having our tour leaders, local representatives and guides inform clients on relevant sustainability matters in the destination (e.g. protection of flora, fauna, and cultural heritage, resource use), social norms and values (e.g. tips, dressing code and photography) and human rights (e.g. sexual exploitation);
- Training our employed tour leaders and local representatives on the avoidance of sexual exploitation of children. This will include training on how to check the requirements concerning exclusion of child abuse.
Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to a sustainable destination by;
· Considering sustainability aspects in the selection process of new destinations and possibly offer alternative, non-mainstream destinations;
· Selecting destinations in which tourism leads to structural negative local effects, (unless the company's involvement results in clear counter balancing effects);
· Considering selection of new destinations, which are reachable through more sustainable means of transport;
· Complying with legally based spatial planning, protected areas and heritage regulations. Also with destination management strategies of local, regional and national authorities;
· Supporting initiatives that improve the relationships between accommodations and local producers;
· Influence and support local government (when possible, together with other travel companies and stakeholders) concerning sustainability, destination planning and management, use of natural resources and socio-cultural issues;
· Supporting biodiversity conservation, including protected areas and areas of high biodiversity, through financial contribution, political support, and integration in product offers;
· Promoting souvenirs which contain threatened flora and fauna species as indicated in the CITES treaty and the IUCN ‘Red List’; or historic and archaeological artefacts (except as permitted by law);
Chapter 10. Customer communication and protection
Prior to booking, Sigo Adventures and Tours commits to customer communication and protection by;
· Making a company guideline available for client consultation, which is followed by client advisors;
· Ensuring that customer privacy will not be compromised;
· Complying with relevant standards and voluntary codes of conduct in marketing and advertising messages, and not promise more than is delivered;
· Making product and price information clear, complete and accurate, with regards to the company and its products and services, including sustainability claims;
· Providing destination information, including sustainability aspects, which is factually correct, balanced and complete;
· Informing clients about the environmental impact of different transport options to reach the destination (in case these are not included in the package), and to offer sustainable alternatives, where available;
· Promoting (Certified) sustainable accommodations, excursions, packages and/or transport options, with logos or other messages; ensuring they are recognizable to consumer and presented as the “better” option.
· Inform the customer about sustainable alternatives concerning accommodations, excursions, package holidays and transport options, if available.
· Clearly inform (potential) direct customers, about sustainability commitments and actions.
After booking and during holidays, Travelife partner companies are required to:
· Provide Information to consumers about the natural surroundings, local culture and cultural heritage in the holiday destination.
· Inform consumers about key sustainability aspects and issues in the destination and receive recommendations on how to make a positive contribution
· Inform customers about risks and precautions related to health and safety matters in the destination.
· Keep a contact person and a telephone number permanently available for emergency situations.
· Train personnel and keep guidelines available, on how to deal with emergency situations
· Provide clients with documented guidelines and/or codes of conduct for sensitive excursions and activities, in order to minimize negative visitor impact and maximize enjoyment. When possible, guidelines are developed in collaboration with relevant NGO's and the affected community.
· Provide customers with information about commercial, sexual or any other form of exploitation and harassment, particularly of children and adolescents.
· Inform clients about applicable legislation concerning the purchasing, sales, import and export of historic or religious artefacts and articles containing materials of threatened flora and/or fauna in the destination.
· Motivate clients to use local restaurants and shops (where appropriate).
· Inform clients on sustainable transport options in destinations, when feasible.
· Encourage clients to donate to local charity and sustainable initiatives.
After holidays, Travelife partner companies are required to:
· Measure systematically client satisfaction and take into account the results, for service and product improvements.
· Include sustainability as an integral part of the research into client satisfaction.
· Have clear procedures in case of complaints from clients.