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Responsible Travel

Sampan Travel strives to conduct responsible journeys at all times, acutely conscious of the negative environmental, economical, and social impacts of aggressive tourism. We believe strongly in playing our small part in making Myanmar not only a better place to visit, but also a better place to live.

Sustainable tourism not only protects the people and places of the world that we love to travel to, but also delivers a more enriching and flavoursome experience and preserves these destinations for future generations.

When leading our journeys around Myanmar we attempt to tread as lightly as possible, gently engaging with the local communities and wildlife. Engines are turned off when not in use, rubbish generated is disposed of appropriately, and mutual respect is encouraged through sensitive and informed cultural interaction with local communities.

We have recently achieved the Travelife Partner award for sustainability in tourism and are now working towards Gold Certification which recognises excellence in sustainable tourism. 

Sustainability Policy

Environment

Our efforts to be an environmentally sustainable tour operator begin at the office. Our policies range from simple practices such as ensuring all lights are switched completely off when not in use to utilizing duplex printing and recycled paper when documents have to be printed for internal use. We buy coffee and tea grown in Myanmar and collect used plastic bags to be taken en masse to the nearby village of Dala where they are made into jewelry and accessories by the workshop Chu Chu. We also separate our food waste from other waste for the Yangon City Development Committee waste disposal unit.

In the office we use a water dispenser, but any plastic bottles that are used are taken to those who buy them from us to be re-used or recycled. The money we earn from this contributes to our monthly donations to Yangon's needy. 

The carbon produced per person per flight is calculated when we arrange each journey. We hope to begin carbon offsetting by donating the amount accrued from the calculation to the organization Trees for Myanmar.

We do not work with and discourage engagement with companies and organizations that practise or promote the maltreatment of wildlife.

When visiting any of Myanmar’s 21 designated Protected Areas (PAs), Sampan Travel works in line with the guidelines and principals set out in the Myanmar Ecotourism Policy.

Finding environmentally sustainable transport options is a hard task for any tour operator that wants to conduct responsible travel. We attempt to offer transportation that causes little damage to the environment while at the same time not losing quality. If our guests are happy to sacrifice a little comfort in order to travel more sustainably (eg. taking a bus or coach instead of a car) they are encouraged to speak to their Sampan travel consultant and we can accommodate this.


Economy

We attempt to support local enterprises as much as possible. The Sampan Travel bags that each guest is presented with upon arrival are made by the Phoenix Association, a self-help group in Myanmar by and for people living with HIV. The gifts inside are from the social enterprise Pomelo, made by native Myanmar people using local materials.

We promote and take our guests to shops selling handicrafts from local artisans. When safe, comfortable and practical, we encourage our guests to eat from locally run restaurants.

Through our guides, partner agencies, and upon the Giving Back page on our website we allow those guests of ours who wish to make a monetary or material donation to a particular cause, project or organization in the country to do so in a responsible and informed fashion.


Society

As a company, once a month Sampan staff visit different charitable oganisations operating near our office to make a donation and spend time with those working there. Aside from the donation, this allows us to make relationships in our wider community, learn from them, and not forget those that are more vulnerable than ourselves. 

We no longer offer visits to schools or orphanages as part of our itineraries. We understand that the vast majority of people requesting to visit schools and orphanages do so with the best intentions. However, not only can these visits be disruptive to the children, but the commercialization of orphanages through ‘orphanage tourism’ in other Southeast Asian countries has lead to the maltreatment of the children that these orphanages purport to be helping. Guests that are interested in donating to or helping young people in Myanmar, are encouraged to speak directly to their Sampan travel consultant or to have a look at our Giving Back page.

Sampan Travel is a member of The Code and is an official supporter of the ChildSafe Movement. Both organisations are helping us put in place policies and practices that protect children from exploitation. Our employees have received training to become ChildSafe Agents, and we have written a Child Protection Policy to ensure that we are proactive and effective in our efforts to safeguard the welfare of children.

Staying the night in a monastery has fast become a popular thing to do in Myanmar. Although it is indeed a wondrous experience, we have heard from some monks that the continual presence of foreigners – and especially female foreigners – can be distressing. Many tourists do not realize that it is against the rules of conduct (the thei kha) of the Buddhist order in Myanmar (the sangha) to sleep under the same roof as a woman. Because the monks will rarely themselves deny accommodation to those who ask, we take it upon ourselves to urge caution and the upmost respect if and when requesting to stay in a monastery overnight. We do not ourselves include such overnight stays in our itineraries.

We place a huge emphasis on cultural exchange as a means to truly experience and better understand a country. For this reason we provide language cards to our guests upon arrival, and on our website, in our itineraries, and through our guides, attempt to present not a postcard picture of Myanmar but a circumspect and comprehensive conception of the country.

Finally, we provide our clients with the useful and accessible Dos and Don’ts for Tourists in Myanmar to help them avoid committing unintentional faux pas.

 

Put simply, sustainable tourism is about caring for the people and places in which we visit. To find out more about our sustainable policies and practices, please don’t hesitate to contact our Sustainability Co-ordinator here.