Explore has announced a new partnership with the Derek Moore Foundation to bolster its responsible travel commitments.
The foundation was set up last year by Explore founder and Aito chairman Derek Moore, utilising using funds from his sale of the business in 2000.
It supports small, grassroots projects in economically disadvantaged communities, “often overlooked by larger charities”.
The Derek Moore Foundation has agreed to match-fund the operator’s donations to its long-term charity partners, Mahouts Elephant Foundation and Lone Buffalo.
It will also co-fund Explore’s Tour Leader Charity of the Year project, which provides funding to charities nominated by Explore’s tour leaders.
Mahouts is a UK-based charity working to improve the lives of Asian elephants and their keepers, known as mahouts, working in the Thai tourism industry.
They work in direct partnership with mahouts, empowering them to set up ethical elephant experiences where the elephant is returned to a protected forest habitat.
Mahouts Elephant Foundation is building a community centre for a village in northern Thailand, which will be used for adult education and training. The funding will support installation of solar panels for the centre, which will allow classes and other activities to be held during the evenings.
Explore offers a Mahouts Elephant extension on its Thailand trips, which enables travellers to stay with a local hill tribe family and see former captive elephants in their natural habitat.
Lone Buffalo, meanwhile, is a project aiming to teach English to young people living in rural Laos, providing opportunities in one of the world’s least developed countries.
The charity also provides opportunities for students to get involved in sport, as well as creative skills programmes.
The funding will support a class of 25 students for a year, ensuring they receive free tuition in English, as well as covering the salary of a local teacher.