Sustainablity in Tourism
Committed to Sustainability
Discovery Travel Limited Partnership is committed to promoting sustainability in tourism. We are the sixth company in Thailand to be fully Travelife Certified.
The Travelife award is a recognition for the long-term efforts and frontrunner position of Discovery Travel Limited Partnership regarding sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility.
We comply with more than 200 international standard criteria, relating to office management, product range, international business partners and customer information.
The Travelife standard is covering the ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility themes, including environment, biodiversity, human rights and labour relations; and is formally Recognized as in full compliance with the UN supported Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.
Travelife is the leading international sustainability certification for the travel sector. More than 40 national travel associations are promoting the scheme to their members, including 20 European Travel associations and The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).
Operational standards, policies & proceedures
Environmentally Friendly Operations
Discovery Travel is committed to reducing negative environmental impacts of our daily tour operations. This is achieved by implementing the following practices;
- Remove all single use plastic from our tours and actively reduce the reduction of single use and disposable goods where ever possible.
- Promote the use of re-usable goods whenever possible.
- Favour sustainable or bio-degradable goods and services wherever possible.
- Purchase products in bulk whenever possible to reduce packaging and the carbon footprint.
- Switch off and unplug all electrical appliances when not in use to reduce energy consumption.
- Energy efficient electronic equipment is preferred if available.
- Print double sided whenever possible to reduce paper usage.
- Use sustainably sourced paper and printing options and whenever available.
- Actively promote the use of digital operation methods wherever possible to reduce waste.
- Use non-hazardous, non-eutrophic and biodegradable cleaning materials when available.
- Separate waste into recyclable, bio-degradable and non-recyclable waste to assist local trash collectors.
- Encourage employees to work from home whenever possible or use shared transportation where available.
- Collect rain water when possible and promote careful water usage within the company.
- Ensure that all company vehicles are properly maintained and efficiently run to reduce emissions and energy use.
- Reduce unnecessary car journeys and ensure that all usage of company vehicles is as efficient as possible. Refrain from using multiple vehicles whenever possible.
Tours, Activities & Destinations
All tours and activities provided by Discovery Travel should have an overall positive impact on the destination area. If it is found that one of our tours is having a negative impact, appropriate steps should be taken to provide a positive balance.
New destinations should be carefully evaluated so as not to exceed their sustainable visitor capacity. Alternatives should be promoted instead of overcrowded main-stream destinations.
Partners and destinations that provide income, support or other positive initiatives for local communities should always be considered when planning new tours and activities.
Local authorities should be influenced and supported when possible concerning sustainability, environmental and socio-cultural issues.
Conservation & Responsible Tourism
- When available, tours and activities should support biodiversity and conservation through financial contributions or political support. The sale of culturally, environmentally sensitive souvenirs or souvenirs that have a negative impact on wildlife, flora or fauna should be strongly discouraged.
- Customers should be made aware of all best practices and behaviours when on tour with special focus on sustainability, cultural and environmental issues.
- Tours should not promote activities that cause harm to people, animals, plants, natural resources or which are socially or culturally unacceptable. Wildlife should not be bred or held in captive unless properly regulated and cared for.
Human Rights & Labour Conditions
Discovery Travel aims to create a safe and fair working environment for all staff and affiliates. All employees are fully entitled to all their legal rights and must agree to work under the conditions stipulated in their employment contract.
Wages & Working Conditions
- All wages will either meet or exceed the legal minimum. There will be no illegal or unauthorized deductions from an employee’s wages.
- Discovery Travel will endeavour to ensure that all wages are paid in a timely manner as per the agreed employment conditions stipulated in an employee’s contract.
- Working hours will be in line with legal requirements and industry standards.
- Employees are entitled to their stipulated annual leave, sick leave and maternity leave, without any form of repercussions.
- Employees are free to terminate their employment at any time without penalty subject to contract conditions.
All staff are entitled to work in a safe and hygienic environment. Discovery Travel takes safety very seriously and steps are taken to prevent disease, accidents and injuries during working hours.
- First aid kits, fire extinguishers and unobstructed exits are provided in all work areas.
- All staff are provided with sufficient knowledge and training to enable them to deal with accidents and emergency situations.
- All work areas and equipment are cleaned with disinfectant regularly to ensure hygiene standards.
- Adequate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is provided whenever necessary.
- Health and safety protocols are updated depending on local and international regulations and recommendations.
- All staff are free to join workers or trade unions if they so wish.
Discovery Travel operates in-line with local legal regulations stipulated by the Labour Protection Act B.E. 2541 (1998) Sections 44-52. Discovery does not employee children under the age of fifteen as employees. Employees under the age of eighteen are given special considerations such as additional rest breaks and restricted working hours, as stipulated in the Labour Protection Act B.E. 2541 (1998).
Furthermore, Discovery Travel will not tolerate or allow any child prostitution or inappropriate actions from employees, partners or customers. Any suspicious behaviours and activities will be reported to the local authorities.
It is Discovery Travel’s aim to maintain a good working relationship with the local communities and not impact on their lives or livelihoods in a negative manner. We aim to achieve this by implementing the following practices;
- Purchase locally sourced products and services wherever available.
- Assist local communities, incentives and installations when possible.
- Work alongside local communities and people to encourage the use of traditional skills and handicrafts when possible.
- Encourage a greater understanding between local communities and tourists through by providing accurate information and insights.
- Contribute to the protection and preservation of areas of local cultural, spiritual, archaeological and historical importance.
Partners & Associates
- Minimizing their ecological impact by reducing emissions caused by staff transportation methods, reducing paper usage, using sustainably sourced paper and by separating and recycling waste whenever possible.
- Being sensitive towards, and maximizing positive impacts on local communities.
- Raising awareness about sustainability issues amongst key partners.
- Providing employees with fair conditions and a safe working environment.
- Comply with all relevant labour laws and child protection regulations. Clauses should also be included in contracts with partners along the supply line.
- Ensure customers and staff are informed of all relevant sustainability information.
Sustainability information and updates are published on our website on the following pages;
Key information is also communicated to customers via guide briefings while on tour and as part of the relevant product information, both online and printed. Infographics and handouts are made available while on tour to inform customers of best practises such as dos and don’ts and any additional information.
Bookings and enquiries
Discovery Travel commits to displaying clear and accurate product information. Customers can contact us easily via our website, phone or WhatsApp with enquiries and we will respond quickly and efficiently. Customer service agents are on hand to advice and assist customers whenever required. Sustainable options are always offered promoted first as “better” options.
Customer satisfaction is monitored by the use of online reviews and customer comment forms. All comments are reviewed and taken into consideration when planning product changes or improvements. Should a customer complain, the complaint will be swiftly investigated and the appropriate action will be taken.
Customers will often ask for information and recommendations regarding the local area. All staff should be able to answer their questions to a reasonable standard, while motivating customers to visit local restaurants, service providers and shops where appropriate.
Ethical Code & Anti-Corruption
Bribery & Corruption
Discovery Travel is committed to operating in an honest and ethical manner. We up-hold anti-corruption laws and take a zero-tolerance policy regarding bribery and corruption.
Small gifts and services may be offered only with an aim of presenting a close and friendly relationship only. These gifts must never include cash or cash equivalents e.g. vouchers. Gifts must not be given with the intention of influencing decision making. The practice of giving monetary kick-backs for services provided is strictly prohibited.
Any employee proved to be associated with bribery or corruption on any level may face disciplinary and/or legal action.
We believe in fair pricing and a fair market. Discovery Travel will never participate in any form of organised price fixing or under-hand agreements. Any employee found to partaking in any kind of market controlling activities will face such disciplinary action as deemed appropriate.
Personal or sensitive date must never be sold or passed on to any third party without prior consent and authorisation. Customer details will not be used for anything other than the direct operation of service. Customer data may be used solely for the purposes of the booking and must not be passed on to any other third party, not directly involved with the booking.
Details of business dealings of affecting both Discovery Travel and our partners must be treated as confidential. Employees are obliged to take all confidentiality and data protection entrusted to them seriously both during their employment and after the end of their contract. Breaches in data protection protocol may result is dismissal and legal action.
Cultural Diversity & Non-Discrimination
At Discovery Travel we meet with and work with people from all over the world and from many different walks of life. We treat each individual with openness, fairness and tolerance. We have a zero-tolerance policy regarding any type of discrimination, harassment or abuse based on a person’s ethnic background, appearance, sex, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs, age or disability. Discriminatory behaviour is strictly prohibited and should be reported immediately.
Sustainable tourism in khao lak
As a small company that relies predominantly on stunning natural views and healthy eco-systems, it is within our main interests to support the local people and environment as much as possible. Along with forming excellent working relationships with local families we work hard to ensure that we leave only a positive legacy. Discovery Travel is committed to promoting sustainable tourism practices to our partners, staff and customers. It is our aim to effectively introduce sustainable policies and operating procedures that will enhance the positive aspects of tourism while keeping the negative aspects to a minimum.
The sustainability of our day to day tour operation is split into 3 main goals.
Plastic Free Tours
As part of our commitment to promoting sustainable tourism in Khao Lak, we are working hard to remove as much single use plastic from our trips as possible. So far, we have already removed single use plastic bottles and food wrappings from all of our trips. Each of our guests is issued with a re-usable water bottle to use throughout the trip. In order to further reduce our impact on the environment, we use cleaning products made from 100% natural ingredient whenever possible.
“Be part of the solution, not the pollution!”
Low Impact Tourism
On any of our “Joined Trips” we take smaller groups than most other tour operators. Not only does this help to give our trips an exclusive, almost private feel, it also helps to reduce our impact on nature and communities in the beautiful destinations we visit. Visitor capacities and the impact of our operations is constantly monitored, to ensure that our overall impact remains as positive as possible.
“Take only photos, leave only footprints!”
Support Local People
Many of the skills that are so important to the lives of local people have been passed down through the generations. But as the world changes many of these ancient skills are in danger of being forgotten and lost forever. We employ local people and promote the use of traditional skills in our everyday operation, to help keep this local wisdom alive. Wherever possible we source all our food and other operational materials locally to further support local communities.
“Employing local people and keep these skills alive for future generations.”
Sustainability in action
We have now successfully become the sixth company in Thailand to be fully Travelife Certified. Currently we are the only tour company in Khao Lak to be awarded this internationa standard certification. We will now take on a leading role in the push for a more sustainable tourism industry in Thailand.
Travelife is a certification scheme, dedicated to achieving sustainable practices within the tourism industry. The scheme as two sections. Travelife for Hotels is managed by ABTA – The UK Travel Association. Travelife for Tour operators is managed by ECEAT- a not-for-profit organisation based in The Netherlands.
2021 has been a big year for us. We managed to become the 10th company in Thailand achieve Travelife Partner status and recognition for our sustainability efforts. We now comply with over 100 different international standard sustainability criteria.
Travelife was established with the support of the European Commission and is the leading international sustainability certification for the travel sector.
September 2022, has been a busy month for us. We were asked to facilitate a meeting between representatives from Fair Tourism and the local Moken and Burmese migrant communities.
The aim of this meeting was to better understand the challenges faced by these communities, esspecially on a human rights level. We are hopefull that with better understanding, the tourism industry can be a driving force for improvements to their quality of life.
In September 2022, we were proud to be invited to partake in roudtable discussions regarding human rights issues in the Thai tourims industry. The discussions were part of the European Union (EU) funded TourLink Project.
The goal of the TourLink DMC Training and Round Table on Human Rights in Thai Village Tourism was to collaborate and identify concrete actions to improve human rights performance in Thai village tourism.
Mid-July 2022, we visited the Andaman Community Based Tourism (CBT) Travelmart in Krabi. This was a great opportunity for us to find out more about some of the amazing community based tourism projects in Andaman area. these projects provide a unique insight into local lifestyles while supporting and benefiting local communities.
We are hoping we can include more of these fantastic projects in our up-coming programs.
At the end of June 2022, we launched our very first community based mulit-day tour package. Our exclusive Khao Sok to Phuket Adventure includes the best off the beaten track experiences available.
We spent meny weeks travelling around and talking with local communities and families. This package gives you the opportunity to experience local lifestyles and explore some of Thailand’s hidden gems.
The entire trip is guided and organised by local people who love to share their experiences.
This is a unique opportunity to see a side of Thailand that most tourists never get to experience. Your journey takes you form the jungle covered mountains of the Khao Sok National Park, to the beautiful beaches of the coastal islands and then on to the more developed world of Phuket.
The covid-19 pandemic caused massive problems worldwide, and the tourism industry has taken one of the biggest hits. Khao Lak became a ghost town, and un-employment hit an all time high locally.
Here at Discovery Travel we have been doing our bit to support the local community as much as possible.
We donated the use of our beloved long-tail boat to a local fishing village. Many of the villagers became unemployed when all the scuba diving and snorkeling tour boats were forced to stop operating. Having the use of our boat enabled them to find food for their families and even generate a little income.
Also we use our online blog and social media platforms to publish official area updates and relevant information, to help build and maintain tourist’s trust in Khao Lak as a travel destination. Several of our posts are aimed at promoting Khao Lak as the perfect holiday destination.
We are active in Thailand tourism social media groups where we offer useful recommendations and advice. In addition to this we have attended several meetings organized by TAT Phang Nga and the Tourism Council of Phang Nga to discuss how else to promote tourism in Phang Nga.
Sustainability for the future
Our key goals for 2022
As we move forward into 2022, we must of course focus on helping Khao Lak and the local communities to recover from the covid-19 pandemic that has caused so much disruption to people’s livelihoods. We will be working with some of the biggest and smallest companies in the area to help re-build Khao Lak better than ever before.
Becoming a Trash Hero
Our partnership with the Khao Lak Trash Hero movement will be continuing into the coming year. We aim to participate in at least one large beach clean per month, and hope to be able to further donate the use of our boat at lease once per season for local reef cleans. We will further support the cause by purchasing Trash Hero branded sunhats for all of our team. This additional income helps the Trash Hero team with running costs.
Other potential projects
We will of course be keeping our eyes open for other additional project and improvments we can support in order to help make ourselves and the industry more sustainable. Here are just a few examples;
We have heard rumors that there is a potential govenment backed project to build a new coral reef close to Khao Lak, provided a suitable partner can be found. We will be investigating further to see if this is a project we could become involved in.
The Tourism Coucil of Phang Nga has recenlty launched an online platorm to potentialy link all service providers in Phang Nga Province. The idea is to create a one stop online shopping centre where customers can buy direct from suppliers. In future the system will be adapted and promoted to inlcude all different kinds of products from hotel rooms to bannanas.
Although the amount of waste we produce through our operations is minimum, there is still a limited about of wast that we find difficult to deal with. The majority of this waste comes from the maintenance of our cars and boats. Substances that are essential to their upkeep such as oils and wood treatments are very difficult to dispose of properly. We will be seeking the advice and assistance of the Government Pollution Control Office for this matter.