Aito is celebrating a successful first year for its Project Protect sustainable tourism initiative run with Surrey University.
Protect (People, Resources, Outreach, Tourism, Environment, Conservation and Tomorrow) has seen 64 Aito members sign up since its launch in October 2016, with training, data collection and analyses carried out by Surrey’s project team.
Among those involved is The Mountain Company, which asked its 30 groups trekking in the Himalayas to collect at least 4kg of litter. So far, more than 350kg of rubbish has been removed. The operator now plans to extend the initiative.
Another participant, Naturetrek, donated 10% of its income from butterfly-focused holidays last year to the Butterfly Conservation charity. More than £21,000 has been raised towards protecting an area of the Chilterns, home to the threatened Duke of Burgundy species.
Explore has pledged to raise the number of female tour leaders, initially in Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka, while Africa Collection has donated £5,000 to provide five table tennis tables to a Cape Town community. Ramblers’ Walking Holidays is planning to sell 1,000 reusable filtered water bottles to its clients to support a school breakfast club in St Lucia and a Costa Rican orphanage.
Aito chairman Derek Moore said: “The great work done in the first year shows the continued commitment of our members to making travel more sustainable, an overarching aim of Aito for the past 30 years.
“From better gender equality to successful youth projects and vital environmental projects, we’re starting to see purposeful and tangible results in the communities of the destinations visited by our members’ customers, and we are encouraged to see that these are part of long-term goals to serve future generations.”
Surrey university’s Professor Xavier Font, sustainable tourism thought leader, said: “The hard work and dedication of so many tour operators has been exciting and encouraging, and the results so far are very inspiring.”