Responsible Travel the PJ Way
"In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught."
Baba Dioum, Senegalese Poet.
Everyone is looking for "that last unspoilt destination". The countries that we visit do reward those on such a quest but how long can it remain that way? When two cultures come together, both are inevitably affected. We benefit a great deal from contact with such hospitable people, pristine environments and historic sites. It is essential that any interaction is based on respect and understanding of cultural differences and our possible impact upon the places we visit.
We believe that most travellers want to be responsible in their travel these days. Most companies do their bit to fulfil this desire. We don’t just tick this box though. Panoramic Journeys was founded on ethical principles and responsible travel is at the heart of everything we do.
Of course, we do all of the common sense things to make sure that our impact on the destinations we visit isn’t negative; that our offices are run in an environmentally sound way and that our clients understand the role that they can play in travelling responsibly. You can read more about what you can do with our helpful 'DOs' for guests to get an idea of what this means on the ground.
As our involvement and commitment to the countries we visit is personal and long term, we are in a position such that, rather than just avoiding doing things badly, we can really go out of our way to do things well and make positive contributions. We can invest time and energy in making a small but significant differences to the lives of individuals and communities that we have a long term relationship with.
We are not an NGO (non governmental organisation), a charity or philanthropists to speak of, we just try to do good things. In Mongolia our Sustainable Projects Fund has filled a gap that these groups don’t cater for; namely small rural projects run by individuals with passion and energy but not with the time or skills to do lots of form filling. Our support of various projects has been quite informal but we realise now that like these bigger entities we still need to be accountable and transparent about our motivations, aims and achievements.
Our motivation is threefold:
We as individuals personally want to make a difference to the lives of the individuals and villages that we visit on our journeys. A fair exchange for what we benefit from spending time within their communities and learning about their lives.
As a business we realise that we are gaining a great deal from the countries that we visit. It makes good business sense to develop our standing within the countries that we work. Working with other businesses within our destinations could also increase the impact that we have in the field of responsible tourism.
We as travel specialists understand that any opportunity to get actively involved in a destination enables guests to have a more fulfilling experience.
We invite our guests to be involved in one of two ways with our Sustainable Projects:
Donate – As it is, we donate a percentage of each of our journeys to our Sustainable Projects Fund, so by booking with us you are already making a contribution. We invite our clients to make any additional donations to the fund or to any of the local charities that we have identified to be doing good things.
Get Involved - We believe that when managed carefully visitors getting involved in projects can be beneficial to all parties. We are cautious about “token” visits to schools or orphanages that can be disruptive and going down the route of “zoo tourism”. Instead we encourage guests who have a genuine interest and positive contribution to make to let us know and we can make the arrangements. We encourage visitors to spend quality time visiting projects whether they chose to challenge a class to a football match, teach a pre-prepared class for a full session or offer up another professional skill.
Our targets going forward:
To identify the most appropriate projects to support in Mongolia, Bhutan and Burma. No point in us attempting a D.I.Y project when others with expertise and more time are doing it better than we ever could. If we can make a difference supporting an individual though who has the energy and enthusiasm to see a project through, we will assist them with the funding.
To train seasonal staff to oversee small scale projects in the low season. In each of the countries that we work, rural urban migration is an issue. Giving a source of income to those in rural communities is one of our main aims.