Thursday, April 15, 2010
Happy New Year! We thought it’s a great time to greet you and also update you on whats happened last year at socialtours.com
Socialtours.com started in May-June 2002, and we have come seven years now, soon entering into our eight year of existence. It has been a wonderful journey so far, working with a wonderful team and full of very rich experiences.
2066 BS was another memorable year. We had a new person addition to the team. Most of you already know Tassi, who looks after our international correspondence. We also, at the very end of the year, had our oldest member of the team, Nima Lama, leave us, to move on to another realm in responsibility, Climate Change. He is now heading a team working on climate change and indigenous peoples in Nepal. Kudos to his achievements and best wishes for the future, and warm memories of his wonderful work at socialtours since the very beginning.
We also stepped our responsible practices one notch this year, completed the first ever Responsible Tourism Audit, which was externally audited. This report is available online at our website and is a benchmark of our achievements and also helps guide the future of responsible practice in this company. We are proud of this achievement. Thanks to Jenefer Bobbin and Harold Goodwin for believing in us on this, and most of all, to the socialtours team for doing all the hard work.
Last year was also eventful in that we launched the Green Circuit initiative in London, bringing together five different initiatives in the Indian sub-continent under one Green initiative @ www.thegreencircuit.net
We also reached another landmark when we finally got ourselves mentioned in the Responsible Tourism section of Lonely Planet, and got recommended by National Geographic Adventure as one of the operators running parts of the Great Himalayan Trail, ranked among the 25 best new trips in the planet.
Our voluntouring programs are also taking a big leap this year. In the beginning of April, signed a contract with Save the Children, Nepal and Bhutan, which aims at increasing social tourism efforts of voluntourism and Charity Tours for the projects and schools that they support in Nepal. We are all very excited about that!
Last but not least, just before writing this note, I noticed that a lot of hits were coming through tripadvisor.com to our website. Tried tracing it down and found out that a wonderful review was left by one of our travellers, and basically that the travelling responsibly in Nepal section was entirely about us. Thanks. This sort of trust and confidence really helps us work even harder.
“Even though time there was brief ( 2 days) - the Socialtours.com staff provided amazing insight into the city and the country that travel books couldn't explain. Their compassion and sensitivity for the people and environments they interact with can help a traveler realize how rich, wise and generous the Nepali culture and people in general really can be.” – on tripadvisor.com
Well, so much for updates. We hope you have a smashing 2067!
See you in the mountains!
for the socialtours.com team!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
This agreement will touch on two different inter-related areas of Voluntourism and Fundraising Tours.
Volunteers from different sectors can be of help to contribute and transfer their skills for SC program through their support for partner NGO's, schools and children. Volunteers can be students, tourists, individuals, corporate or from any sector. This program will intergrate volunteering into stand-alone tourism packages (hence falling under the perview of Voluntourism) whereby visitors mix social engagement with leisure activities as part of their tour in Nepal. At socialtours, volunteering has always been an immersive way to travel, integrating social work with tourism activities, so this fits perfectly into this model.
Fundraising tours in Nepal will be arranged specially for individuals and their groups residing abroad and in Nepal. Such tours value-add to existing stand-alone tourism packages for tourists in that it includes an element of giving back to the communities that they visit as part of their tour. Such tours may also be adapted to Charity Challenges, where a group of sponsored individuals undertake an adventure challenge. ST are experts in designing tailormade adventure tours, and SC is a perfect partner for incorporating a cause component.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
April 7, 2010 – In mid-March, the Local Travel Movement trumpeted a call to people and organisations with a passion for local travel and commitment to local travel values. The promising early reverberations of this new, international, free-to-join movement have already inspired more than 40 organisations to join a growing list of partners at www.LocalTravelMovement.com.
The Local Travel Movement was initiated by a core coalition of people from companies that believe Local Travel is greater than the sum of its parts. The Local Travel Movement is now already a rallying point through which, by working together, Local Travel companies can help give locals a real voice, engage travellers and develop a stronger ethical dialogue within the travel industry.
Given the diversity of partner companies, the Local Travel Movement is not overly descriptive. Rather than define ‘local travel,’ the Local Travel Movement simply places value on an approach to travel that is mindful of local people, the local environment, local culture and the local economy. It proposes four easy steps to becoming a local traveller:
• connecting with local people before, during and after a trip
• travelling in a manner that is sensitive to the local environment
• respecting local heritage and culture
• spending money locally.
While these actions may seem self-evident, the Local Travel Movement prioritises this conscious and conscientious shift in attention to the direct connection between visitor and local host. For travellers it's a chance to get under a place's skin (and let it under theirs), while also making the most of their travel time and saving money by spending locally. For host communities, it is vital for enforcing the beneficial qualities of tourism, maximising a general awareness of the local culture and minimising 'leakage' from the local economy.
The partners of the Local Travel Movement believe now is the time to embrace, develop, promote and establish Local Travel as the responsible way forward in tourism.
For more information and interviews, please contact:
Ethan Gelber, WHL Group (www.whl-group.com), firstname.lastname@example.org
Bart van Poll, Spotted by Locals (www.spottedbylocals.com), email@example.com
Friday, April 2, 2010
The Road to Lhasa - a 8 day drive in fly out, or fly in drive out trip to Lhasa, which gives you healthy overdoses of the magnificent landscapes of the Tibetan Plateau and Buddhism.
Trip to the Center of the Universe, Mt. Kailash - a 14 day land journey which also includes a hiking Kora - a circumbulation of this beautiful mountain, a religious site for Buddhists, Hindus and Jains alike.
Find these trips here
The one on the drawing board is another of socialtours initiatives in working together (we are working with a local agency in Humla (the remote western district in Nepal bordering the Mt. Kailash Region in Tibet), who will run a six-day trek in the remotest parts of Nepal before reaching the border, crossing over, driving to Mt. Kailash and then exiting through a road border near Kathmandu. This will give you the best of both worlds, compacted in a approximately, 21 day journey!
Well, basically giving you a heads up to start planning Tibet again!
Thursday, April 1, 2010
socialtours just joined it as one of the partners from Nepal, as this is where we are based, and this sort of movement is crucial for us, as we market direct and have to rely on clients who are aiming to buy locally.
Alex Narracott (www.muchbetteradventures.com) has described quite adeptly in an article entitled The importance of 'travelling local' in adventure sports (read it here) and I completely agree with him when he summarises at the end in this way
"Experience, access and sustainability. Three very good reasons why the adventure world as a whole - traveller, host and intermediary - should all being looking to go local at every opportunity"
I like to focus on the sustainability part. This is crucial for the future of businesses and the stability of the economies in the long run. As more and more people travel locally, all aspects of the business, from marketing to operations to after sales, start being performed by local operators, giving them much needed capacity boost, pride, skill enhancement etc, which in the long run will serve them good.
Agents also have a very short bursts of loyalty towards a destination. It is only local operators who are dedicated to marketing and selling a particular destination. In Nepal, this came to the attention of the 'ground handlers' (spoilt by year and years of just ground handling for western companies) quite starkly when the Maoist insurgency and the negative Travel Advisories hit the industry. Agents in the West turned away much too quickly (even though not a single Westerner was targetted through the 15 years the insurgency went through), leaving a big void, and taking back the industry about 13 years in terms of arrivals. If the local operators were capable, this would never have happened.
It had desirable effects too, as the men separated from the boys and Nepal started taking reign of its tourism again. There are more operators now who promote local travel and are taking control of their own markets.
A movement such as this will go a long way in supporting Nepal and the sustainability of tourism in this tiny country. Kudos in starting this!