1/Responsible Tourism - Policy
The AOJ vision is a wonderful travel experience to live your dreams. Our aims are:
- The tour operator of choice for Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar
- Preferred partner status with leading travel agents
- The experts in crafted eco-friendly itineraries, designed with our clients
- Authentic personal travel experiences that focus on culture, lifestyle & ecology
- Delivery to our expected high standards by the entire supply chain we use
- Top rated reputation for quality, service and value
We maintain rigorous monitoring systems and encourage client feedback. Our aim is to continually improve and to continue to offer variety and choice.
2/ Responsible Tourism – Local Economy
We employ local people only and aim to promote opportunities for those who might otherwise struggle a little. Inevitably we have balance this with our total commitment to quality, including all accommodation, drivers, guides and river trips etc.
There are many festivals and celebratory events such as Full Moon festival and Tet Lunar New Year. AOJ staff, Trang and I join charities to visit poor and remote areas and bring them gifts such as rice, clothes and other vital supplies and support them such as teaching English and Maths for young children.
We help local village economies by encouraging homestays, cooking lessons and the sale of handicrafts, often very distinctive and of high quality. Locals benefit and so do tourists by engaging in the culture and a very different lifestyle.
We can also assist with projects to get them off the ground and make sure they are managed well. Stuart, our UK consultant, has a background in social enterprise and is also keen on promoting economic sustainability and to assist under-developed areas
3/ Responsible Tourism - Social Responsibility
Our eco designed tours explore the natural environment where you can hike, trek or bike with knowledgeable guides. As Buddhists we believe in preserving nature in its natural setting.
AOJ clients often link these tours to their interests such as photography, climbing, botany and history. You can stay with a local family, help cook local dishes, assist with daily tasks and feel close to nature – without TV or air con. This simple lifestyle and such wonderful hospitality will stay in your memory forever.
We encourage clients to visit extremely poor areas, especially around Sapa and other parts of Vietnam as well as Pu Luong and Sen Monorom in Cambodia. Clients often request this type of stay and want to contribute to local economies too.
AOJ is fortunate to have excellent guides and other people who support eco systems such as removal of all rubbish. We use only recyclable and bio-degradable bags; not plastic. Mineral water bottles are glass and not plastic.
Our eco-friendly policy applies to wildlife too. We ensure habits are not disturbed and refuse to treat animals as ornaments or for displays such as elephant riding or circuses.
4/ Responsible Tourism - Improving life quality
Stuart has organised several group tours to Vietnam and Cambodia too and on one introduced his friend Graeme. He has since visited remote areas around Sapa to identify and assist with community projects. Both Graeme and Stuart have a strong interest in Education and so have Trang and I.
Education in remote villages is a big challenge. Graeme has donated, pencils and drawing materials for local schools and being very practical has helped pay for and undertake simple but important tasks such as mending broken windows. There are other ways we can assist too.
AOJ supports traditional Vietnamese music such as CA TRU and music instruments: dan tranh, dan bau (one string guitar) and Cai Luong, traditional music of Southern Vietnamese. We also support local meals cooked by the local host to maintain the traditional features rather than using restaurants.
All these ideas and initiatives are aimed at improving quality of life in these areas.