Sunvil and Responsible Tourism
Responsible Tourism, is without doubt, the current buzz word for the industry but, what does it mean? In general terms, Responsible Tourism aims ‘to create better places for people to live in, and better places for people to visit’.
For us, at Sunvil, this means building close relationships with our destinations and working alongside our local agents and the host communities to develop a sustainable and culturally sensitive tourism industry that aims to bring long-term social, economic and environmental benefits. We are not a company that introduces a destination only to remove it after a couple of years – we are dedicated to the destinations that we feature!
In fact, Sunvil was the first UK Tour Operator to promote self-catering on the island of Cyprus in 1970, and it is largely down to our initiatives in encouraging the renovation of village properties that has encouraged city dwellers on the island to respect their village heritage and breathe life into once forgotten settlements.
A company that arranges holidays using aircraft and promotes car hire in resort can never hope to call itself ‘green’ or ‘eco-friendly’. However, for many years we have striven to behave as responsibly as possible – long before ‘green credentials’ became fashionable.
We promote owner-managed hotels and tourism enterprises, including a selection of renovated village properties within each of our holiday brochures. These properties offer guests the opportunity to meet and become part of the local community (even if only for a short time), and ensure that the ‘tourism pounds’ spent by our clients are spread throughout the host community. We have recently become part of the Travelife Sustainability scheme.
Sunvil use local suppliers
Sunvil use local suppliers and local representatives wherever possible, and we encourage our suppliers, through many initiatives, to protect and treasure their local environment. We don’t always win, but we try. In the Azores for example, where we offer a variety of nature based activities, we have chosen suppliers that are owned and managed by local geologists, biologists, marine biologists and certologists who strive to educate visitors and protect the natural landscape of their beautiful islands.
The travel industry:
We believe in low impact, high revenue tourism and are vociferous in damning the ‘low cost’ airline model which has led to gross overcapacity in a number of European destinations, and the belief that you should be able to fly everywhere in the world, from a local airport, for next to nothing, no matter the environmental cost. We were also against the expansion of Heathrow airport, even though our livelihood depends on flying aircraft. We cannot reconcile Government policy on airport expansion while at the same time it (the government) purports to encourage a reduction in emissions.
In 2006, Sunvil Holidays was one of the first UK tour operators to introduce an opt-out carbon offset policy and, over the past year, 36% of our clients have chosen to pay the optional charge, raising money for two projects in the Retezat National Park in Romania. Find out more about our pioneering Carbon Offset scheme here.
Tourism 2023 – Creating a Sustainable Tourism Industry
The Tourism 2023 project sets out to help the UK outbound travel and tourism industry understand the challenges it faces and plan for a sustainable future.
Read more about Tourism 2023 by visiting their website
We like to receive, and encourage, feedback from clients whether critical or complimentary. If you have any ideas on how we could improve our Responsible Tourism practices, or have seen our work in action, please do contact us, we would love to hear from you.
In our office in Old Isleworth, we recycle everything possible including paper, cardboard, cans, glass, plastic, printer toner cartridges and excess holiday brochures. In addition, we ensure that all lights, computers and screens are turned off every night! Plastic milk bottle tops are also collected on behalf of a local charity. We support the RSPB ‘Save the Albatross’ campaign and forward all our used stamps to the charity. Through the sale of these stamps – whether they are used or un-used, UK, foreign or even first day covers – the charity can raise money to help protect one of the world’s largest flying birds Find out more about the Save the Albatross campaign here.
- Read a guidebook about the area you will be visiting before you travel – find out about the geography, religion, politics and local customs. Try to learn a few words of the local language. A better understanding of the local culture and environment will not only gain the respect of the local people but will enrich your holiday experience.
- Check the Foreign Office’s 'Know Before You Go' website for up to date government travel advice.
- Consider what you really need to bring with you. Some countries you will visit are not as well equipped to handle waste as we are. Please look at removing the wrapping of packaged goods before you leave home – unwrap soaps and take bottles out of boxes.
- Do your best not to litter. Beach rubbish such as plastic containers takes years to bio-degrade. Help prevent fragile environments from being polluted by asking if there are any recycling facilities available or alternatively, take rubbish home with you where practical. Be careful with cigarettes and matches as they are often the cause of devastating forest fires.
- Respect wild life reserves and, if there are any, stick to footpaths.
- Respect local culture and observe dress codes if you visit religious sites. Try to take an interest in the local community and speak a few words of the local language.
- Ensure that the souvenirs you buy are not endangered species, such as coral, shells or hard woods. This does not only contribute to the degradation of the natural environment and marine life but may be illegal. Instead buy some unusual souvenirs from the local market – this will not only put money back into the community and help to preserve traditional lifestyles but also make for a different and interesting present for those back home!
- Not only does shopping from locally owned outlets and eating in local restaurants get you into the holiday spirit in a great way, it helps to put money back into the local community. Additionally, this will ease pollution from air freighting food around the world, one of the most significant contributors to climate change.
- Be respectful of the local culture and always ask permission first if you want to photograph local people.
- Haggling can be great fun but please remember that the small price you pay may be essential to the seller’s livelihood – pay a fair price!
- Water shortage is a problem in many destinations. Please respect this by taking a shower rather than a bath, try not to wash up or brush your teeth under running water – water is a precious resource! If your accommodation has a garden, use your washing-up water on thirsty plants. If you notice a dripping tap or a continually flushing toilet or a leak – please report this to your local Representative or hotel reception.
- To save electricity, turn off/turn down your air conditioning when it is not needed. Or at least close balcony doors so that a/c energy is not wasted. Switch off lights and do not leave the TV on standby.
- Although tempting, please do not feed any cats that frequent your accommodation as most tourists are seasonal, the cats will become dependent and consequently starve during winter.
- One of the main reasons for going on holiday may well be to enjoy the pristine beaches. Please help to protect these fragile environments and ensure that their natural beauty is preserved by not discarding waste food, litter or oil in the water. As a tour operator we try to help the local communities with rubbish problems – if you are concerned about local rubbish problems in evidence, please talk to our local Representative or agent.
- If the opportunity arises, mention it to local people as well. This may help to prioritise their concerns.
- When diving or swimming, try to avoid stepping on coral as this suffocates and kills coral polyps. Corals are very sensitive living organisms which take centuries to grow.
- Please pass on any environmental or social concerns you may have had whilst on holiday to us or a local environmental organisation. Your thoughts and feedback are appreciated and most welcome.
- If you feel strongly about any destination issues then please research and choose a charity of your choice to support on a regualr basis.