Responsible Travel: Practical Challenges of Footprint

Many travel companies advise you with a lot of information on how to become a responsible traveller, but how they are actually implementing responsible travel themselves? what are the challenges and how do they face these challenges?

With 17 years of implementing responsible travel, Footprint has certainly gone through many different challenges. Some challenges take days, months or even years to be solved. 

1. Guests are hesitant to cooperate
Although we have always encouraged our guests to use refillable water bottles, many are still hesitant to practice because of doubts about the quality of the water which they refill. Understanding that hesitation, we set up water tanks on our transportation for guests to refill, and ensure that the water is from certified brands or brands that are familiar to travellers. 

(Photo: Tom Holmes)

2.  Changing commitment to responsible travel of local homestay 

The popularity of the destination has a certain impact on the local community. More visitors also means more income. One of the cases is that after gaining a stable income, some local homestays would invest in an extra property next to their house for guests. Therefore, guests are not staying together in the same house with local family.  As a result, there is a limited interaction, which affects the authenticity of the experience for guests. Losing authenticity is a threat to a sustainable development of the local community. 

Our solution to this challenge is tightening our relationship with the local community, provide them with training and stimulate awareness about responsible travel concept. Besides,  local homestay who strongly commits to responsible travel is prioritised in sending bookings. 

Dinner with local family - A reason why homestay is a unique experience!

3. Sorting waste
Vietnam does not have a comprehensive system for sorting waste. At our office, waste is collected and separated into 3 categories: papers, plastics and organic waste. However, when it comes to waste collection, the separated wastes are put back together. 

There is no definite solution to this issue. However, we keep on doing what we believe is good for the environment. Not only it helps in raising our awareness about waste sorting, but we can also apply this routine at home, where our children - the future generation, will follow and keep it on. 

4. Motivating business partners to follow responsible travel concept
 We search and aim to work with suppliers who are also committed to responsible travel. Our ambition is to encourage business partners in implementing the concept. However, not all of them are willing to follow for different reasons:

- Lack of monetary resource 
- It is not their priority 
- Hesitation to change 

It is a huge challenge for us alone to create an influence that would change their principle. However, being a member of the Responsible Travel Club (RTC), we believe by connecting the voices of our members, we will be able to create a significant impact on our suppliers. 

In 2016, Footprint became the first local tour operator in Vietnam to receive Travelife Certificate for our commitment to sustainable travel.  After the audit from Travelife earlier this year, to be recertified, our team is working hard on submitting our sustainability report in 2018. Implementing responsible travel is a long-term commitment and it is vital for us to keep progressing, for the last 17 years.

Stay tuned for good news from us! In the meantime, you may read more about our previous projects!

Author: Andy

Having been to over 20 countries, travelling is no longer a hobby but a passion for Andy, in which each journey is a process of self-exploration and integration of a human being into nature, culture and history.