Viet Value Travel has a responsible travel policy.
I think all of us today are aware of the impact that we as humans are having on the world around us and most of us have had our behaviour modified in that we now think of the effect of our actions on the environment before we act something that twenty or thirty years ago was not a social issue.
If you act this way within our own community, consider your impact on societies less developed than your own, not only in terms of litter but in the areas of standards, dress, morality, behavior, noise and many others. With tourism developing rapidly, it is our responsibility to ensure that the environment, heritage and cultural diversity of our destinations remain untouched for future visitors and for the local people.
Viet Value Travel suggests that you take the time to read the suggestions below so as to minimise your impact on the people and places you visit while in Vietnam. A good maxim is to take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.
The responsible travelers should always look to protect local communities:
Always try to use local services, rather than external international tour companies and services.
When booking accommodation, think about staying in bed and breakfasts or locally run hotels and hostels, rather than international names.
Always respect local laws and customs. Not only is it illegal, and could result in serious fines or imprisonment, but the effect outside influences on a community can be devastating.
The introduction of drugs to the hill tribes of northern Vietnam is a notorious case, where travelers taking drugs created a previously unheard of economy in buying and selling drugs.
As locals emulated their visitors, soon many communities became not only dependent on drugs themselves, but also as a means of survival, by selling them to travelers.
Buy locally made crafts and artifacts direct from the source, i.e. local markets and shops rather than from hotel lobbies and airport departure lounges where little of the original money will go to the community.
In short, help the local economy of developing countries by buying local produce where all purchases can be put straight back into the local community, in preference to imported goods and externally ran services.
Always question establishments where children are working, consider whether they should be in school or not.
Every country has its own culture. Every culture has its own ways. Respect culture of one country is respect yourself.
We travel to Vietnam to see and experience new cultures, yet the majority of travellers show an abject ignorance of anything other than a Westernised world view.
Please do not insult or ignore the rites of others, show some respect and appreciate that if you want the cultures of those countries you visit to continue to flourish, then you need to be more than just a tourist to foreign ways of living.
Try and acquaint yourself with local customs, be sensitive that many aspects of your way of living which you take for granted may be insulting to others.
This is predominantly the case, with western sexual attitudes and dress. Other cultures, especially Muslim areas will be offended by naked flesh in public and overt signs of sexual appreciation, i.e. kissing in public.
Read up and research the area you intend to visit in advance, but do not just rely on guide books.
Talk to locals and observe their way of life to get a better understanding of the culture you are surrounded by.
In Vietnam, for example, pointing to someone is very rude, as well as touching someone's head.
Different religions and cultures import different meanings to a wealth of activities. It would be futile to try and cover the 'do's and dont's' of social etiquette from around the world, instead do some research.
Please do not take photos of local people without their permission. Also never offer payment for taking photos of someone. There are a few places in Vietnam where children may ask for money or candy if you take a photo of them. Never give anything to children, they are too young to understand how to spend that money as well as the candy not being good for them.
Protecting the natural environment is paramount especially when travelling. Check out how you can conserve local eco-systems:
- Always try and use local energy and water as efficiently as possible in line with local practices. You may come from a city blessed with heavy annual rainfall, but the odds are the village you're staying in.
- Don't leave taps running or use water-intensive practices such as hand washing only a few or single items of clothing at a time in countries where water is sparse.
- Check that any soaps or detergents you use are biodegradable and always wash dishes and utensils away from streams and lakes.
- Never ever litter. Find a bin or recycle it. Find out how to recycle your waste most efficiently from your hotel or hostel. Try not to bring any superfluous containers or packaging that you do not intend to take back home.
- Never put rubbish bags down beside a garbage bag or pile of rubbish sacks as wild animals are more likely to tear them open and disperse the rubbish. Worse still, bottles and cans can seriously injure animals and plastic bags suffocate animals when consumed.
- Travellers should be aware that not all countries employ the same levels of animal welfare protection. so be discerning when visiting zoos and marine parks.
- Animals are not here to amuse us, so do not support this trend, festivals and carnivals where performing animals are used.
- In natural areas, be aware that your movements are effecting your surroundings. Move cautiously, do not take any natural keepsakes and always stay to marked footpaths.
Begging always presents a difficult situation for the ethical traveller.
Always carefully evaluate requests for gifts and money. As a general rule, as difficult as it is, you should never give money to beggars.
This is especially difficult with regard to children who are often kept out of school to beg as a form of income by their parents. By handing out money you are ultimately condoning these methods.
If you want to give, then buy essential goods to hand out like food, water, blankets and toiletries. The most efficient way to help though is by supporting local and charities which can direct your money to the most needy in the most cost effective manner.
Although you won't get the immediate gratification, that handing out a few pesetas to a street beggar may bring, in the long term you will be making a larger overall impact to the problem at hand.
When purchasing souvenirs try and buy from local markets and handcrafts so that the money goes directly to local businesses.
Eat in local restaurants and cafes too as far as possible, rather than western imports selling the staple of burgers and chips, as these can threaten the livelihood of local restaurants.