Being responsible in travel to us is part and parcel of our life as we strive to ensure that whatever initiatives we take would be of benefit to the local community without disrupting their culture, economy or respect. All itineraries designed by us are built to make sustainable travel easier for our travelers by ensuring that every dollar spent with us would be used to benefit the local people, leave a minimal carbon footprint and also to ensure that it would not cause any harm to the environment or lifestyle of the people.
Our sustainability policy has been categorized into the preceding sections to highlight each area in more detail,
All trips which we run are carried out to ensure that that we only promote meaningful travel experiences which would provide a positive result to everyone without compromising on,
• Customs & traditions
• Cultural differences
• Religious beliefs
• Adhering to required dress codes
• Interaction with the local community
• Requesting permission to be photographed
• Use of drugs and alcohol
• Promoting destinations with respect and integrity across our marketing
All benefits which would be accrued as a result of tourism generated through us to the local community would be used to help support the same, we achieve this by,
• Encouraging our travelers to always opt-in to make their purchases from the local shops, public trade stalls in the community and local service providers.
• Striving to ensure that we mainly employ local workforce for our operations team and suppliers
• Designing itineraries to feature the local community or those who work directly to give benefit to their economy.
• Avoiding the use of imported products and purchasing locally sourced goods and services
• Empowering our team with fair employment practices across our offices and working with suppliers who do the same
• Paying all our taxes
• Refrain from encouraging any form of bribery, corruption or fraud.
Reduction of disposable and consumer goods
We do our contribution to preserve the environment we visit by ensuring the minimal impact made through our operations. We achieve this mainly by limiting the amount of wasted energy, water and waste in our offices, on our trips and in the destinations which we visit.
The strategies which we’ve made to ensure that our offices are fully compliant include,
• Energy conservation practices – We strive to ensure that electricity isn’t unnecessarily wasted even after office hours by limiting it to only the really important components. All lighting equipment used are LED based bulbs in order to reduce the energy consumption in our offices.
All materials required including paper, stationery etc are either sourced from recyclable materials whenever possible
• Waste management – All solid waste materials are recycled including papers, cardboard and other similar products, leftover food is separated and disposed in the best possible way, use of polythene and plastic bags are reduced to the minimum levels.
• Ensuring better water conservation practices are upheld across our offices.
Sustainable Environmental Practices
The enviornmental impact in our trips are maintained at a consistent level through the use of the following best practices,
• Encouraging our travelers to eat at local restaurants to reduce food miles.
• Use of private, locally owned transport vehicles or local transport mediums where its safe, feasible and reliable
• Striving to work with and encouraging our suppliers to adopt our sustainability practices
• Maintaining our fleet of vehicles to make sure that they are fuel-efficient and maintained according to manufacturer standards.
• Advising our travelers reduce their water usage and waste during the trip
• Encouraging our travelers to shop at local markets to purchase souvenirs, local produce and other items.
Sustainable excursion policy
We strive to ensure that we always protect and look after people by ensuring their basic human rights as per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights principles; we do so mainly by ensuring our travelers, suppliers, staff and local communities are treated with respect, dignity, freedom and equality. We also scrutinize all our suppliers and business partners to affirm that they do not take part in any activities which may discriminate, exploit or traffic women or minority groups in any way, shape of form. We also ensure that none of our itineraries offer any form of short-term or voluntourism opportunities to our travelers.
Being a responsible traveler when it comes to wildlife is all about bring concerned about the mental and physical health and state of the animal and we believe that the animal’s welfare should not be compromised and be in adherence with the five freedoms of universally accepted pillars with regards to protection of animals living under human control.
These five principles are,
1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
2. Freedom from discomfort
3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease
4. Freedom to express normal behavior
5. Freedom from fear and distress
Elephants in Sri Lanka
Elephants being wild animals by nature are not meant to be domesticated irrespective of the reasons which anyone may ascertain to. Elephants which are used for the purpose of tourism are captive animals which are restrained and subjugated to immense pain physically and psychologically.
Some of the main ways through which we identify whether an animal is in a good state physically and psychologically are by examining the below traits,
• Ensuring whether the animal looks well fed and not starving or under prolonged thirst
• The fur and coats of the animal should not appear with too many sores or wounds, which may imply that it has been used for riding or other activity
• The eyes of the animal should be bright and clear
• The personnel in charge of the particular animal should not use any physical force in order to maneuver or control the animal.
• Travelers should under no circumstances be allowed to feed any animal at any place.
• Animals are not used in any form of entertainment including lion walking, cub petting etc where the animals would be exploited, unnatural and cause severe stress to the creature.
At Figo Holidays, we believe in our strong stance of no contact with wildlife, as wild life is born to be free in their own territory. We ensure that all our travelers would get a truly amazing experience to observe the wild animals roaming around with their freewill without any disturbance from passersby. All drivers of our safari vehicles have also been told that they should not get their vehicle off the track in order to get a close up view of the animal, nor do we encourage anyone to whistle or try other means of getting the animal’s attention.
In certain areas of the country you may find the local community who have taken care of wild animals and domesticated them for the purpose of attracting tourists for photographs and selfies. We do not endorse any of our travelers to partake in any of these activities as we cannot ascertain whether the animal has been taken care of properly, not been drugged and sheltered under adequate living conditions.
Generally, it may not be so common to find animal leather, ivory, turtle shells, butterflies and horns in Sri Lanka due to the illegal nature of the trade. However, we take the extra step to assure our travelers that we do not partner with or partake in any such activity nor do we endorse or encourage anyone to play any role in dealing with it.
Visiting Animal Sanctuaries
At Figo Holidays, we plan all our trips to visit facilities which involve wild animals kept in captivity provided the rationale of the operation is for the best interests of the animals, by keeping animal welfare our top priority. Sanctuaries which are known to be buying and selling animals in the wild would never be visited by any travelers on our trips unless they’ve been classified by an officially recognized breeding programme.
Volunteering in any initiative to work with children has a detrimental effect on the psychology and growth of the child. A steady stream of voluntourists entering a community and forming close bonds with children could have a negative impact in the development of these children, which may lead to attachment disorders, learning delays or even difficulty with forming healthy relationships. Voluntourism could also cause loss in the local job market as the economies could get affected due to the influx in potential tourists arriving for the said.
“Orphanages” nowadays are not really placing which provide shelter and care for kids without parents, contrary to popular belief around 70%-90% if these children globally have at least one parent still amongst them. This causes a major issue with regards to orphanages since children are subjected to be used in order to incite potential tourists in making more donations towards their lives. A residential care body on the other hand is a group primarily developed for the purpose of providing food and shelter for children who may not have a primary caregiver or whose biological parents are unable to fend for them.
Although travelers who may visit an orphanage may really get touched with the lives of these children and want to offer immediate help, their donations would be used as part of the system and ultimately be the cause of the children being separated from their families or sometimes even abused.
Figo Holidays doesn’t offer any travelers with the chance to volunteer or even visit any orphanage or residential care institution either as part of included or optional activities in the trip; as children are not tourist attractions.
Purchasing from children
Children who are involved in any form of child labour which include the selling of souvenirs, trinkets or even begging for money and food are all discouraged and Figo Holidays has absolutely no involvement with any suppliers nor does it encourage its travelers to purchase these items from child sellers.
Tour operators who visit children during their school offers often pose as a disruption to the normal study hours of the children which presents as a child protection risk to the community. As such, we do not provide any of our travelers with the opportunity to visit or volunteer at any school during their trip with us. However, we may consider trips where we host school groups, during these kinds of activities we strict adhere to the following rules,
Although many tourists may consider to opt-in to homestays in order to get a closer connection with the local community and their culture, this also poses a serious risk with regards to child protection, the community and the travelers themselves. As the majority of homestays are local families who aren’t aware about the foreign cultures and customs, the sudden exposure could be a risk in terms of exposing their children to a different community and social norms of the tourists. Some of the most common risks which children face as a result of homestays include,
Working with Travellife
Our commitment towards a stronger desire towards sustainable management and business best practices, we are in process of partnering with Travel Life as a certified partner. Our competent teams are working strenuously towards ensuring that we meet more than 200 of the sustainability criteria endorsed by Travel Life. These criterion are based on the following operational areas of our business,
* Customer relations
* Product development
* Partnering with suppliers
* Office operations
The three main stages of the Travel life certification process include, TravelLife Engaged, TravelLife Partner and TravelLife Certified. After we’ve achieved our TravelLife Partner status we shall strive to achieve the TravelLife Certified status as well through a rigorous process of awareness, training and sustainable management practices.
Throughout our TravelLife partnership process, we shall be working hard to partner up with other DMCs globally who support our sustainability practices, animal welfare and responsible travel standards.
For more information on our sustainability policy, click here