It is all too easy to rush to a destination with the cheapest flight or vacation package, but what If we were to stop and think about exactly where we want to go and what it is we want to do?
We consider ourselves purveyors of exotic destinations, yet when we choose to offer a particularly country or region, we do so with a lot of consideration.
The tourist simply does what everyone else does, and follows the crowds and travels to escape. The traveler, however travels to learn, think, embrace a place and to seek. We appreciate the role of travel in our society, and believe that everyone has the right to explore the world. However, as explorers, we also have a responsibility: every time we move we are venturing into someone else’s habitat, culture and all that it entails.
We see travel as a force for good, and Enchanting Travels was founded with the intention of providing learning and growth opportunities and to ensure a positive impact on the societies within which we operate. As many of our destinations are economically emerging, we believe that tourism is a tool for development. When executed thoughtfully and with care, tourism can grow local economies. We are not in the business of challenging local people’s livelihoods.
The UNTWO estimates that in some developing countries, tourism can account for over 25% of their GDP. With the benefit of having ground presence in our destinations, we aim to promote locally owned businesses, and encourage you to be discerning and respectful guests. We also encourage you to live by the old adage “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and experience the destination as much as possible with the perspective of what it is like as a local.
We understand that every country has its flaws and we respect guests who may not wish to travel to a particular destination that we offer. While we occasionally take decisions to stop offering particular accommodation options or experiences, we generally don’t believe in boycotting an entire country, unless it is not considered safe.
The reason for this is simple: no country is perfect, and at times, calling a boycott can do more harm than good to the individuals whose livelihoods depend on it. To boycott an entire country is to paint every individual with the same brush, and this is unjustifiable. Likewise, the success of destination boycotts does not necessarily create positive behavioral or policy change. Moreover, we believe that even if a country’s politics might have questions raised about it, we can still do much to support the community and the positive side of a culture.
One example of this was our recent decision to start offering Tibet as an enchanting destination. While many supporters of the steadfast Free Tibet movement might argue that it is irresponsible to encourage visitors to Tibet, we would disagree. We spent many months finding Tibetan partners who could share and keep their beautiful culture alive.
Read: Songs of the Mountains
In times of hardship or crisis, we take extra time to promote a destination. One example is Nepal after the 2005 earthquake.
Every situation is different and as a responsible tour operator, we will always consider every case on an individual basis.
When we travel, we will always leave a footprint. How we travel will decide whether we are treading lightly and respectfully.
We are aware that ‘overtourism’ is becoming an issue, particularly when governments and the travel industry do not consider the flip side of a booming economy and how it can negatively impact the community or environment. The share economy and cheap, no-frills airlines all come with their own set of challenges, and in recent years the inhabitants of a few European cities have even put publicly rallied against tourism.
Overtourism in our definition occurs when the local infrastructure and environment is negatively impacted and tourism comes at the cost of the local people or wildlife being able to go about their daily lives in the manner they are used to, and being resentful of the attention.
Did you know that when on vacation we usually tend to eat more than when we’re at home? Do you find yourself wanting to shower more when you’re visiting a hotter destination? Just think about how that impacts local food supply and water consumption. We also depend on airports, roads and railways get from A to B. Tourism has a tendency to be intensive on natural resources.
Naturally, when we open up door to a new destination, things do inevitably change, yet it doesn’t have to be a change that is detrimental. Across the world there are many destinations that actually want and need tourists, and so will welcome you with open arms.
For example, if you wish to go to the Galapagos Islands, we may recommend you travel out with the peak season, or explore on a smaller boat instead of a mass cruise ship. We might even recommend an entirely different destination that is just as spectacular when it comes to biodiversity but is little known (such as Bahia Bustamante in Argentina!) We frequently recommend alternatives to the most popular tourist destinations in our collection.
There is much to be said for off-the-beaten-path destinations, but even they will have their limit. Some of our destinations choose to limit or smartly segregate guests, which we believe makes a lot of sense – whether it is the accommodation limit of Rubundo Island in Tanzania, the number of visitors who can join the gorilla treks in the forest of Bwindi, Uganda, the lottery system of the jeep routes for tiger tours in Ranthambore, or the number of trekking permits given on the Inca Trail in Peru!
The benefits of travel should always exceed the challenges for the host community, as much as it does for you.
We are also all too aware that the picture-perfect postcards in some of the world’s tourist hotspots are becoming a thing of the past. Certainly, there are still secluded white sandy beaches without a single soul in some of our hidden travel gems, but having a photo without any crowd in the background on the “Princess Diana bench” at India’s great monument of love, the Taj Mahal, will be unlikely – even if you get up before dawn! For us, we prefer to be honest with you so that you go with the correct expectations.
If you are thinking of creating a travel bucket list, we recommend you make it as unique are you!
Have you heard about Bhutan and its bundles of happiness? Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness philosophy guides Bhutan’s government and measure the collective happiness and well being of the population. Yet there is more to Bhutan than its happiness index.
While we often choose specific regions, the entire country of Bhutan is the perfect example of a considered destination for Enchanting Travels. Why? Bhutan is a much lesser visited destination compared with neighboring Nepal and is therefore more able to integrate visitors into its existing infrastructure.
We applaud the efforts that Bhutan as a country has taken to not only promote sustainable tourism but also act responsibly towards her people and environment. In recent years, the Bhutanese has passed many laws that support the environment, including writing into its Constitution the requirement that 60% of the country’s land remains forested. The government has banned all plastic bags and is committed to creating carbon neutrality, which means that CO2 reduction is part of daily business and life, and that any carbon emissions created within the country need to be offset with responsible projects. The country is entirely smoke free, and supports only local shops, which in turn supports the local economy. You won’t find many large chain stores or corporations in Bhutan.
Even Bhutan’s food is locally sourced, with most of the country’s citizens tending to their own kitchen gardens. For our guests, this guarantees meals with deliciously fresh ingredients!
Probably the most wonderful aspect of tourism in Bhutan is the fact that 65% of what guests pay is retained by the government to be used for societal welfare.
What we love about our accommodation providers in Bhutan is that they choose to employ local staff, so that guests can have social interactions with diverse groups in the community. For example, Thimpu Towers in Thimpu has a hotel owner who personally engages with lower income women and trains them to be part of the staff.
Zhiwa Ling Ascent in Thimpu believe that the best education is hands-on, so offers training experiences to local Bhutanese students wishing to learn and work in hospitality. The hotel’s own professional team supervise the students with 120 hours of hands-on training, equipping them with valuable skills, from spa therapy and reservations to housekeeping and culinary arts. The result are confident students who are proud to share their Bhutanese culture with guests.
You can experience a Prayer Ceremony in Probjikha Valley, in which our partners in Bhutan never charge or take any commission from. Your donation that you are asked to give during the ceremony directly goes to the monks conducting the prayers.
My name is Sangay Wangdi and: I am from Gasa, which is one of the remotest districts in Bhutan. I am very proud to be Bhutanes, we are a small country in the world but we have our own identity and a unique culture and traditions that are still alive. We look for peace and happiness within ourselves.
Bhutan is a Himalayan country filled with natural beauty and mountain peaks. Everywhere you go you can experience different ways that people choose to live in rural areas, and you’ll get a feeling of untouched cultural heritage in the remotest of places. To become a tour guide in Bhutan one has to overcome many personal challenges, including the ability to have good communications skills and to share our culture appropriately with guests. I wanted to become a tour guide so that I could visit many of the holy places in Bhutan and also learn about the world from our guests.
Enchanting Travels has given me an ample opportunity to upgrade my career. Enchanting Travels really understand the value of humans and appreciate different lifestyles, and all the guests I have shown around are really amazing people. I am glad that I got an opportunity to work with the most renowned tour operator in the world!
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