Positive impact tourism

Positive Impact Tourism (or P.I.T) is an underlying philosophy in all tours operated by our company.

 

Chapi Travel believes that the trips that we operate should adhere to some basic social and environmental principles. We aim to minimize our impact on the environment and maximize respectful interaction with the local people and culture.

 

For travelers it's about being culturally and environmentally sensitive in a way that gives you a deeper understanding of a place and its people - and guarantees you'll have a wonderful trip.

 

What Can You Do?

 

By following these guidelines you will not only have a richer cultural experience but minimize the impact on the communities and environment we visit.

 

Before you go.

 

The more you understand Vietnam, the more you will appreciate it while you are there.

 

· Read up on the country you are going to visit and read up on the history, etiquette and culture of the place. The internet is a great place to start.

· Take a short language course. The locals will really appreciate the effort you have made and your experience will be much richer for it.

 

When packing you bags, consider:

 

· Vietnam has a waste management problem and as such, leave excess packaging at homes, use rechargeable batteries and biodegradable toiletries whenever possible.

· Vietnam is also conservative country and dresses as such. High shorts or skirts, low cut tops and figure revealing clothing is notconsidered respectful (especially in rural areas or places of worship). Bring along plenty of light loose clothing that covers your limbs will not only protect you from the sun and insects, but also means you will be more readily accepted by the locals.

· Leave expensive jewelry at home. Not only does this attract thieves, but it is a reminder of the wealth gap between rich and poor countries.

 

While in the country:

 

Local Culture and Customs:

 

Meeting and interacting with the locals will probably be a highlight of your trip and Chapi Travel aims to give you many opportunities for positive cultural exchange. However, just like in your own country respect, open mindedness and consideration are required. In rural areas don’t be surprised if you are also treated as an object of curiosity.

 

Put yourselves in the shoes of the local people and remember that at times it is easy to judge based on your own culture and expectations please bear in mind:

 

You are guests in a country and try to behave with a certain amount of respect for the host country as you would expect from others if they came to your community. Do as the locals do. - Vietnam often seems to run on a different concept to time than you are familiar. Patience, good humour and a ‘go with the flow’ attitude is required’

 

Keep an open mind. You do things differently at home…

 

Don’t be too quick to generalize. One experience of being overcharged for a souvenir does not mean all vendors are scam artists.

 

Be ready for lots of personal questions! Questions about marital status, age and job are not considered ‘out of bounds topics’ and are the normal way in which a conversation is started by thelocals. We suggest you use this to your benefit to start your own conversation with a local person.

 

Showing affection in public is also considered frowned upon. Hugging, kissing and even holding hands between members of the opposite sex is frowned upon and causes embarrassment to much of society.

 

Showing anger and frustration is considered a big faux-pas in most Asian countries. It does not work and only makes the situation worse. Try to remain calm ‘on the outside’ at all times.

 

Please be considerate of the local customs.

 

Being dressed inappropriately can often cause offense. Wearing low cut tops, short shirts and deliberately figure-hugging clothes especially in rural areas or places of worship is considered offensive. Men should always wear a shirt in public. Swimwear for local bathing places will often needs to be in the form of shorts and a T-shirt rather than a bikini. Take your cue from the local people.

 

Please respect private property (including land) and be prepared to pay for any damage that you may cause. This is particularly the case while trekking where weather conditions may lead to damage of crops (while trekking through rice terraces for example) and be aware that your guide may deliberately keep you away from a particular place do limit potential damage (for example rice terraces in wet weather)

 

Transportation:

 

All forms of motorized transport produce CO2 and therefore contribute to global warming. Consider walking or use cyclos, bicycles and public buses rather than taking a taxi. Taxis cause a great deal of congestion and you see much more on a bike or a cyclo than you do in a taxi! Public buses are also a great opportunity for local interaction

 

Begging and Gifts:

 

Begging is a very complex issue and travelers often do not understand the problems involved. During your travels you will often be confronted by children or adults asking for pens, sweets or money. We strongly suggest you refrain from giving gifts and money to these people. Parents may encourage children to skip school if they can make an income from begging and dental care in some areas is unavailable or not affordable.

 

On the other hand, please feel free to interact with them, show them a magic trick, photos of your family or take a photo of them (and send it back). These people are often ignored all day by tourists and as such will really appreciate your time spent with them.

 

If you bring school supplies to distribute to the community, please give the supplies to the local teacher rather than distributing them yourselves as this can create conflict amongst the children. School supplies can be bought very cheaply in Vietnam.

 

If you would like to make a financial contribution, please ask your tour guide for suitable places. (for example English classes for street children) where your donation will be appreciated.

 

Sex Tourism:

 

Prostitution in Vietnam is illegal, although like everywhere else in the world it happens on quite a common occurrence. However, unlike many sex workers in your countries, many women and children have been sold, trafficked, drugged with little opportunity to escape the downward spiral of destruction. For this reason we strongly do not allow our leaders or our passengers to use the services of local sex workers.

 

The use of children for the use of locals, tourists, businesspeople and expats is a deplorable act and it highly illegal. We encourage any travelers who witness any use of children used in the Sex industry to report them to EXPAT-Childwise immediately.

 

Photography:

 

Vietnam is surely a photographers dream and most travelers are keen to take photos to remind them of the beauty of the scenery of the countryside and the people BUT…

 

Please always ask before taking pictures of people. Consider how you would feel if you were chased by a camera or if a strange person was taking pictures of your children in your country. To ask permission, usually just pointing at your camera with a questioning look will suffice or even better asking in the local language and a smile usually helps.

 

Usually spending some time interacting with your potential subject before asking will mean they will say yes and even give you a big smile. Respect people’s decision if they say no. If they agree, please take the time to print out photos when you get back to the closest town to give back to the locals. Photo printing is very cheap in Vietnam (sometimes only 5,000 vnd per print) Returning your photos via your guide or by post is a wonderful cultural exchange especially in rural communities where photos are highly treasured.

 

Please do not pay for taking photographs as this creates a begging mentality.

 

Bargaining:

 

Bargaining is part of everyday life in many less developed countries and to a certain extent, foreigners are sometimes charged more than locals because they are considered to be richer and unaware of the market prices for goods and services.

 

However, bargaining should be done in a light-hearted way with a degree of joking and banter on all sides. Getting upset over 10 cents is not really worth it.

 

Ways to bargain whilst saving face!

 

Start bargaining with some idea of what you consider a fair price for the item to be. This will usually involve sourcing the item in a number of different stores.

 

The correct price for an item is the price you agree to pay, that keeps both you and the seller happy. Therefore there's no 'right' price.

 

Be polite, patient, but firm in your bargaining. No-one ever has received a cheaper price through being rude or insensitive.

 

Don't appear too interested in an item. Walking out of a store is often a good way to get the price to drop.

 

Shop with a friend - buying in bulk will often reduce the price.

 

Learn the numbers in the local language. It will win respect from the seller, and will certainly make the process a lot more interesting.

 

Once a price you have offered is accepted it is not appropriate to back out of the deal.

 

Only say you'll buy something later if you intend to buy later. The sellers usually have amazing memories, and will come hounding you on your promise!

 

Most importantly, enjoy the experience, and remember you're often only bargaining over only a few cents - keep it in perspective.

 

Religious and Historic sights:

 

Watch your feet- Sometimes you will be required to take off your shoes before going in to some religious monuments. Also make sure you are dressed appropriately.

 

Some religious artifacts should not be photographed. Ask your guide, look for notices or ask a local.

Please don’t be tempted to take a souvenir.

 

Food:

 

Trying the Vietnamese cuisine will undoubtedly be the highlight of your trip. Buying food from local vendors rather than from multinational chains will allow more money to go to the local economy.

 

Avoid the soft drinks and try the delicious fruit juices that are readily available instead.

 

Local leaders and staff: We always aims to employ local people as office staff, leaders, guides, porters and drivers. These people are excellent sources of information. We encourage you to interact with them. They can introduce you to their friends, help avoid cultural ‘faux-pas’ and can be a bridge between you and the local people by being interpreters and facilitators.

 

Wildlife: Vietnam unfortunately has a market for the consumption of exotic species including endangered animals. Please refuse all offers of trying these products.

 

Consumption of endangered species is highly illegal and can be reported to ENV.

 

Education for Nature - Vietnam

No.2/C5, Tap the Dai hoc Ngoai Thuong,

Pho Chua Lang, Dong Da, Ha Noi, Vietnam.

PO Box 222, Hanoi

Phone/fax: +84 24 3775 3685

E-mail: env@fpt.vn

 

Avoid buying souvenirs that are derived from animals and refrain from buying items made from shells or coral and items made from hardwood where the origin is unknown.

 

Trail Etiquette:

 

When trekking, it is important that the area remains clean for future trekkers, the environment and the communities that live there. Any rubbish produced on the trek should be taken out to the nearest town where adequate waste management facilities are available. Take a few old plastic bags with you for this purpose. If you have a spare couple of minutes, then leave the place cleaner than you find it and pick up other litter too. Any toilet paper and sanitary products shouldnot be left on the trail and should be taken out.

 

Waste Management:

 

Vietnam is a densely populated country with limited natural resources and a waste management problem. As travelers we can set an example by refusing plastic bags, refilling waterbottles or using a different water purification method such as iodine tablets, and not using the toiletries provided in hotels and guesthouses.

 

Drugs:

 

Drugs are illegal in Vietnam and are the cause of many social problems. In some locations, the demand for travelers to try drugs has caused a dependency problem for the locals and many social impacts in communities. Any person found to be using drugs will be asked to leave.

 

Allowing society to ‘develop’:

 

We ask you to remain open minded about development and poverty in local areas, and respect that the local people may wish to develop economically and gain access to material possessions that we take for granted. While this undoubtedly changes villages and makes them less 'unspoilt' for travellers, it is something that we should respect. A role you can play is to share some of the realities of our western culture, which while may be materially rich is often lacking in spiritually and community awareness. You can help people understand the negative influences that come from increased material wealth on the family and the community. Assist people to achieve a balanced view of development. Being aware that in your pursuit to find something ‘untouched by tourism’ you may be the one stretching the boundaries of tourism’s negative impacts and harmful effects.

 

When you get home:

 

When you return home we'd like you to think about how you can give something back to the country you have experienced. You've just spent quite a bit of money on giving yourself a great time by experiencing another culture and meeting the people. Your spendinghas certainly helped the local economy, and now there are other things that can be done to help some other countries on an ongoing basis. After your trip, you will probably be more aware of the environmental, social, political and cultural problems that some local communities face. There are various agencies and groups trying to address these issues, aiming to assist developing countries maintain their cultural identity, develop sustainable resources and improve social justice situations. All of them require resources.

 

Money is not the only way you can assist, as simply providing your time and/or skills might be as valuable and useful.

 

Things you could do:

 

· Join a development agency or other group devoted to concerns in developing countries.

· Become a volunteer and donate time to aid groups.

· Buy your birthday or Christmas presents at shops run by various third world charitable groups.

· Write letters for Amnesty International to assist political prisoners or to put pressure on governments to change some intolerable situations.

· Become more aware of your own government's policies and how they influence the 'two-thirds world'.

· Become a more environmentally friendly household and help to use the world's resources more efficiently.

· Talk to others and educate them on the realities of the problems associated with tourism and how things should be done.

· Offset the carbon dioxide that you produced on your trip with a donation to a carbon offsetting organization.

 

What does Chapi Travel do?

 

On all our trips there are things we as a travel company should do to lessen the negative social and environmental impact of our visits.

 

· Use locally owned infrastructure for accommodation and transport where possible.

· Spread the financial benefits amongst local people and operators.

· Provide employment and leadership opportunities for local people.

· Respect local customs and culture.

· Educate travellers and our operators about how and why we choose to travel this way.

· Limit the negative impacts to daily lifestyles of local people not involved with our groups or individuals.

· Provide support to organizations and local communities visited by I travel’s groups.

· Provide training to our staff, organizations and individuals associated with our trips to educate them on PIT and allow them to professionally develop.

· Actively ban leader and passenger participation in or endorsement of commercial sexual activities or illegal drug use on our trips.

· Actively discourage the participation of our groups or individuals in activities which exploit animals - wild or domestic.

· Support and encourage fair employment practices. Encourage our customers to offset their carbon dioxideemissions by donating to biofuel plants which stop deforestation and pollutions while also reducing poverty.

 

In certain environments and communities we need to do much more:

 

Our trips that visit small communities there are further issues raised and as such we need to particularly vigilant of our behaviour in order to make tourism sustainable.

 

Chapi Travel does not run tours of more than 12 people in these areas as we find that large groups are too intrusive. If we have a larger group, they may need to be split up into 2 different groups.

 

We also pay the amount of money decided by the homestay owners rather than what the tour operator or guide decides to pay.

 

Chapi Travel tries to spread the income in a number of ways. While staying in homestays we strictly rotate our use of homestays so that all homestays receive the money from tourism rather than just a select few.

 

We try to buy as much food from the village as possible rather from the city or the main market and also to buy from villagers not yet benefiting from tourism.

 

We choose routes that are circular rather than using motorized transport which causes congestion and increases CO2 emissions.

 

We also include extra activities in the price of the trip. These can be things such as a cultural performance or a tour of the bamboo forest by the local guide as this employs people who are not yet benefiting from tourism and allows them the chance to make an income from tourism as well as giving our travelers added enjoyment and a greater cultural understanding. This makes our tours more expensive than many of our competitors, but we feel that this is the right thing to do.

 

As part of the booking conditions we encourage all travelers to read and adhere to this Code of Ethics.

 

Travellers’ Code of Ethics

 

As part of the booking conditions, you are asked to agree to our ‘code of ethics for travellers’

 

This Code of ethics was put together by tour guides and students from Hanoi Open University and Chapi Travel believes that it is the best code of Ethics for Travellers. We encourage you to add your name to the growing list of ethical travelers at www.cbtvietnam.com

 

Please consider pledging to the original code of ethics found at http://www.cbtvietnam.com/ and make a unity of ethical travelers around the world.

Today I will commit to the notion that when traveling I will see myself as the privileged guest and ambassador of my own country. I will take responsibility for my actions and accept that every choice I make has both its adverse consequences and positive outcomes. Thus, with integrity, humility and genuine desire, I will foster and promote a more ethical style of travel by:

 

Cultivating an Exchange of Knowledge by:

 

Researching the destination’s culture, customs, language, religions, history, geography, and people before arriving;

 

Continually make an effort to learn the language while I am visiting;

 

Sharing information to my hosts and other travelers about my home country’scharacteristics, customs, geography, people, and language(s).

 

Contributing to and Promoting Ethical and Environmentally Friendly Alternatives by:

 

Supporting only local initiatives, and participating in those tourism products that are local and / or aim to support the local community economically and through social programs (this includes tour companies, hotels, and restaurants);

 

Purchasing goods that are produced and sold locally at a fair price and assuring that those good are not products of illegal activities and / or important symbols of the host’s culture;

 

Reducing my environmental footprint through maintaining a conscious awareness of how my actions will affect the host’s valuable resources.

 

Volunteering and Social Activism by:

 

Promising to make an effort to participate, at my own expense, in activities that aim to restore and preserve the environment as well as those that aid or bring an extra bit of happiness to those less fortunate;

 

Advocating those companies and organizations who support and provide ethical and community based tourism products and services;

 

Making a stand against sex tourism, through reporting any illegal activities to local authorities and supporting those projects that have put forth the effort to fight against it.

 

Protecting and Respecting Culture by:

 

Researching and practicing cultural etiquettes to the highest level of my ability, as well as, teaching and informing other travelers around me.

 

Using my camera in a way that is sensitive to the peoples and cultures around me.

Further I promise to never take a picture of someone without politely asking first.

 

Being aware that in my pursuit to find something ‘untouched by tourism’ I may be the one stretching the boundaries of tourism’s negative impacts and harmful effects.

 

We are proud of our Positive Impact Tourism policy, but welcome any feedback that you may have on our policy. We are quite transparent with our transactions and are happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

Please email us at info@chapitravel.com with any questions or comments you may have.

Need Help?

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