Traveling has so many and varied benefits, that it is shocking to think about the negative impacts that doing it irresponsibly can cause.
What happens is that, in most cases, how harmful the activities related to a trip can be is ignored.
First, success (and/or development) is often assessed based solely on the economy. And it is clear that this is a relatively easy indicator to see, but it does not necessarily reflect what is happening in the background, because do we know where the money goes in the end?
Thus, relying on a single indicator is a limited view of reality. And at last, the economy – actually is about people, not money.
And at RESPONS, beyond worrying about the economy, we get involved in the other aspects of development that others forget, often encompassing issues that do not concern tourism, and on which there is no obligation, but our voluntary commitment.
But we also ask ourselves: who says we are sustainable? This is a term that should already be tacit and intrinsic to all economic activity, however it is necessary to make it more understandable and speak of well-being: of people; of the society; of nature. So:
At the environmental level we seek …
To minimize the environmental impact of a trip through smart planning. With logical routes, connected, and using the most energy-efficient means of transportation possible.
To mitigate our carbon footprint. Mainly through the contribution to forest conservation in the Las Piedras river basin at the concession of the State granted to Arbio.
To fight against plastic pollution. Through much activism, as Ambassadors for water refill stations; to do everything within our power to eliminate the use of plastic from our operations; as donors of bibliographic tools to combat the use of plastic in hotels, since there is no better way than to guide with the example.
To preserve biodiversity. Directly through donations to the NGO Amazon Shelter, and indirectly through the sale of tickets for natural parks.
At the social level we seek …
To make donations to educational and psychological counseling institutions.
To work with social enterprises, and associations that promote decent work, women’s independence and opportunities for low-income youth.
These institutions, companies and associations are detailed in the section “Specifically, what do we do?” (down).
At the cultural level we seek …
To promote local identity and the preservation of customs. It is our main goal, by offering real and authentic experiences with the local population.
At the economic level we seek …
To honor fair-trade with the communities. We do not take advantage of our role as intermediary and we assume with great responsibility the fact of being it.
For the acquisition of local products and services from small companies, while helping to insert them on the tourism market in one way or another.
How do we measure our impact?
Generating Sustainability Reports for each trip sold, where the positive scope of the activities and services contracted by the passenger are evaluated.
We keep our minds open and have an holistic mindset
Forming a partnership with as many organizations or companies as we can, because in the diversity resides the strength to achieve more and better goals.
Advising and supervising our service providers to meet our standards. In short, knowing personally all the products we sell.
Specifically, what do we do?
- We develop long-term trips (we do not accept trips shorter than 6 days and we promote Slow Travel), which guarantees genuine contact with people and destinations.
Short trips only touch the surface and leave no significant benefits in almost any link in the service chain.
Now our average per itinerary is 18.5 days and it has been increasing year by year.
- For each trip sold, we generate a Sustainability Report (a tool created by RESPONS), and the data obtained is analyzed to learn more about our impact on communities, natural parks, small-scale accommodation, and other providers, as well as to understand the behavior of our travelers.
In such a way that every year we can measure our, so long desired, improvement. For example:
Of all the nights that our passengers slept in Peru in 2019, 15% did so in homestays and 44% in other small-scale accommodation (with some sustainable strategies), so they supported in good extent, to family and local economies.
- We organize the itineraries in a way that requires the minimum number of flights and optimally in the use of other motorized transports (land and water).
- We support small and independent businesses.
Social companies have our preference in terms of reservations and count on us to improve and become more competitive.
- We always seek to agree with our suppliers on the most convenient prices for all parties.
We advise families and communities so that their finances are successful (showing the realities of the market and helping them to monetize correctly).
- We always suggest cultural exchange through gifts brought from the travelers’ place of origin; and useful donations, for the benefit of host families or communities.
- We directly buy farm products from our rural suppliers and promote the purchase of these by third parties.
- Snacks or “box lunches” for our passengers should always be healthy, local and packed in eco-friendly containers.
- At each destination we provide our customers with a list of recommended restaurants with the most sustainable known options.
- We take actions to completely eliminate the need of disposable plastic bottles, generating affordable or free water sources.
- We invite our passengers to report activities where unnecessary use of plastic is made, or places where there is contamination by it. And at the same time to accept the challenge of traveling free of plastic using a “zero-waste” kit.
- We donate annually to organizations like: Amazon Shelter, Abrazos Association, Oye Lena, Casa Mantay, Wees Kind Foundation, HoPe Foundation. Also to primary schools (Mayrasco and Shipetiari) and communities (Coporaque).
Our donations fund, which is enlarged with each day of travel per passenger, is distributed every year according to the vote of our employees, according to their favorite socio-environmental causes. In 2019, nearly $ 9,000 was distributed in donations to 10 different organizations.
- We sponsor hectares of Amazon forest annually (six in 2019).
- We have begun to facilitate sustainability workshops (ten in 2019), and through monthly newsletters (since December 2019) we share relevant information and suggest easily executable strategies to our suppliers.
- We have signed the International Tourism Plastic Pledge and donated the Travel Without Plastic “Let´s reduce single-use toolkit” to the Niños (social) hotel, with which we make the most of our reservations.
- We have taken the first steps to certify our internal processes. And in 2020 we will continue the process to achieve it effectively.
- The 22 employees that currently make up RESPONS obtained personal sustainability certificates (Sustainability Managers) as part of our continuous improvement and training strategy.
- We give our workers more benefits than the law requires, and we try to involve them as much as possible in the company’s philosophy and strategy.
- Our communication is clear and direct with all parties involved, regarding our way of working and philosophy.
- We align ourselves with and get inspiration from various United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (iconography presented above).
At RESPONS we see everything as a whole and we always relate four fundamental terms to achieve well-being: Planet, People, Peru and Experiences.
The Planet, because it needs us more than ever, given that our actions will depend on maintaining the balance that is necessary, so that all living beings and all natural processes remain in harmony.
People, because they are our main asset. As a company we care about the well-being of the personnel who work in the offices, and all the people who intervene in the operations necessary to produce the travel experience we offer to our passengers. So RESPONS is families and peasant communities; drivers; guides; small hoteliers; cooks in small restaurants; even other partner agencies.
Peru, as it is our home, housing the most diverse cultures and species. A country that celebrates festivities every day and where the richness of ingredients and influences is evident in each plate of food. It allows us to enjoy in the same territory: sea, desert, mountains and jungles.
The experiences are our definition of a trip, which reaches its climax when in a slow and contemplative way it allows us to be aware of the three previous P’s. Providing closeness to people, connecting with nature and eating healthy, among many other things.
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