The major selling point of our adventures is that the tours travel through mainly rural areas and the wilderness of Borneo. Therefore, with a few exceptions, all our suppliers are either local people or companies that employ locals. For accommodation, this includes local homestays or hotels/chalets that employ native people. For food, our policy is to stop by well-run, local restaurants and food stalls that offer authentic local flavors and experiences, including participating in the preparation and cooking of meals with the local hosts. During our rides/hikes, we also make the point of purchasing from local shops or fruit farms rather than buying them from the supermarket in the city. This is especially popular with our guests during the fruit seasons when roadside fruit stalls are in abundance. In specific locations in the villages, we hire local kampong (village) guides who take us to visit local, small-scale industries or local attractions. One of the highlights of traveling in Sarawak is the river, lake, and island crossings. We always try to use the local wooden longboats rather than the faster fiber speedboats, except in cases where there are safety concerns. Although the local longboats are more expensive to hire, they offer more authentic experiences as well as contributing to the local economy. The owners of the boats are mostly local fishermen or ferry providers, and they are more than happy to generate extra income during their downtime.
We have initiatives for paper recycling in our office. It is our policy to limit the use of printed brochures to the minimum and encourage sending e-brochures to our clients via email or a cloud sharing platform. We also have a policy of printer cartridge recycling. Inside our office, instead of installing air-conditioning, we have opted for an environmentally friendly way of air-cooling with natural ventilation utilizing the building air well as well as the pool garden.
We actively organize visits to wildlife sanctuaries and national parks set up by recognized NGOs and government agencies that help rehabilitate and preserve the orangutan, sun bears, and turtles. Volunteering programs are incorporated into our tour to encourage participation and create awareness. A major part of our tour is to provide travelers with relevant information to minimize damage to the environment, wildlife, and marine ecosystems and how they may be able to help. Our travelers are encouraged to sponsor some of these official programs such as the orangutan adoption program that allows them to continue their involvement to the cause in the years to come after they return home, rather than a one-off contribution.
We provide travelers with suggestions for a code of conduct for environmental responsibility:
- Our pre-tour “What to Expect” information provides accurate pre-trip information concerning your particular trip including details about the social, environmental, and political situation.
- We recommend that guests bring their own refillable water bottles and avoid using one-off plastic water bottles.
- We also discourage the use of plastic bags, and suggest that customers bring their own dry bag or small waterproof backpack. During our tours, we recycle wherever possible, and try to keep our waste as low as possible. We never allow travelers to take pieces of coral or other endangered plant life home as a souvenir.
We build up our partnerships with as many locals as possible, from the local boatmen to the people running homestays, street stalls, and small cafes. Wherever possible, we stick to the same people who are familiar with our expectations and will expand their operations as they grow with our business. One example is the wooden sample crossing that we use in the city of Kuching, a dying, traditional way of commuting in the rapidly modernizing Kuching. We have used this specific ‘sampan’ crossing provider for more than 3 years for all of our local city bike tours. He has proven to be a very reliable supplier and for bigger groups, he will personally organize ferry providers from the other kampongs. We have even used his personal house by the ferry jetty during the festive season of Hari Raya (Muslim festival) as an “Open House” celebration as part of our festive bike ride.
We have collaborated with our Ministry of Tourism’s Sarawak initiative in a project known as “Fort to Fort Trail” to develop responsible tourism in an interior region of Sarawak which had very little exposure to tourism. We developed an education package together with the Ministry to train the local longhouse folks to manage their expectations and on how they should receive tourists. The training involves safety training as well as the basic requirements of homestay, tour structures, and hygiene standards, etc. We also educate the longhouse folks on the method and importance of preserving their authentic longhouses and cultural heritage.
We provide travelers with suggestions for a code of conduct for social responsibility and ways to minimize negative impacts on local cultures:
- We recommend when buying souvenirs, that travelers head to the shops of traditional artisans, or local cottage industries for locally made products. Thus helping to keep traditional crafts alive, while also supporting our small, independent business owners and artists. We always favor local products over imported items, but avoid buying things made from the tusks or horns of endangered animals (such as hornbill and coral), or from at-risk plants (such as orchids and pitcher plants). We educate travelers on how and why purchasing locally produced goods and services – souvenirs, crafts, meals, and guides from locally-owned establishments has a beneficial effect – communicate a sense of the significance to local communities.
- We also suggest ways to minimize negative impacts on local cultures such as giving the best possible advice about bargaining, as well as advice on giving gifts or money to beggars, children, and people they have just met.
- We recommend that travelers always ask first before photographing or videoing people. Asking before clicking also offers the chance to have a conversation and to connect.
- We advise travelers to dress respectfully with an awareness of our local standards which varies with each culture and religion, including dressing modestly at certain religious sites and check what swimwear is suitable for pools and the beach.