Responsible Travel Company
Responsible Bhutan Tour Operator
Wind Horse is an active member of many associations including Association of Bhutanese Tour Operator (ABTO) and Tourism council of Bhutan (formerly Department of Tourism) which practice and promote responsible Tourism in Bhutan. Sustainable and responsible tourism also have always been parts of Wind Horse vocabulary since the founding of the company, but like all good causes, it has no value, unless some objective and polices are in place. Therefore we have implemented some goals and objectives for our company and our guests, so that the world we share, lives and passes on to our children and future generations.
We have developed a long term sustainable development strategy based on the operation of Responsible Tourism Policy categorised into environmental, social, and economic development.
We recognise that the environments, cultures, and economies of many of the geographic areas in which we conduct our business are fragile, requiring a sustained commitment to ensure that any visits have a lasting positive effect on the local environment and community. Which can positively effect local communities by providing income, positive cultural exchange and financial incentive to preserve the heritage sites, community development and natural environment. When we have direct contact with our suppliers, we also ensure that the suppliers, we choose to work with, also operate business in accordance with Responsible Tourism Principles we have adopted. Our sales are focused on ‘small groups’ and ‘tailor-made travel’ which we believe is best suited to the tourism policy of “low impact and high value” adopted by the Tourism Board of Bhutan.
We conduct our business in a way that minimises negative environmental impacts and raises awareness of Responsible Tourism and environmental good practice among staff, clients, suppliers, and local communities. We support and advocate the government’s policy to maintain 60% under forest cover. Bhutan has very rich bio-diversity and eco-system, and it is one of the ten biological hot-spots on earth.
- We encourage and use accommodations which has environmental friendly policy in place, which addresses issues such as, re-using towels, electricity and water usage, waste management, providing fair wages to the employees and better working conditions, use of local farm products etc.
- Appropriate and well maintained transport for the guests is used to minimise carbon emission and energy preservation. (Such as fuel efficient SUV for 2 pax and minivan for small groups comprising from 4 – 8 pax)
- We minimise printed material; most of our marketing sales is done through website and internet, providing online catalog, DVD or CD brochures. Only some necessary labels and brochures are printed.
- We go all-out to minimise waste in all our activities, and have zero litter policy.
- Support conservation projects carried out in participation with local communities in areas visited by our clients. (We are ready to adopt some hiking trails and maintain it, in consultation with the local authorities.)
- We practice and encourage our staff, clients, suppliers and local communities to minimise energy consumption (e.g. turn off lights, room heaters, computers, TVs etc. when not in use).
- Office staffs are required to use papers on both sides to save resources and minimise paper usage as much as possible.
- Trekking Regulation issued by the National Tourism Board is strictly implemented. For example; we bring back the garbage and put it into designated areas, restrict the use of campfires, where it is not necessary.
- We Camp in designated areas to ensure that our services and activities create the lowest possible negative impact on the environment.
- During the trek, boiled water is provided at each camp area for trekkers for drinking and trekkers are required to bring water bottle for refill.
- Liquefied Petroleum Gas(LPG) are used for cooking on trek, thereby having no impact on the local resources for cooking.
- Most of the treks in Bhutan falls within the National Park area and so we also guided by their conservation regulations.
- We always encourage and support when there is campaign on environmental awareness or clean-up project advocated by the Tourism Board or by any other relevant agencies.
Social & Economic
We conduct our business in a way that minimises negative social impacts and raises awareness of Responsible Tourism and social good practice among staff, clients, suppliers, and local communities. We shall continually try to improve our performance towards promoting sustainability and economic viability not only as a company but also for local communities, our service providers or suppliers we work with and shall when possible raise awareness of Responsible Tourism and economic good practice among staff, clients, suppliers, and local communities.
- We are a member of Tourism Association and we contribute US$10 per every tourist as tourism development fund and like all tourists, around US$ 65 per each tourist per day goes to the government directly, which is used for social, welfare of the population in general and also in the infrastructure developments that develop tourism industry in sustainable way.
- At our level, direct benefit to the community includes sponsoring annual village festivals and support donation for the renovation of local heritage sites such as temples, monasteries, community halls that our clients visit during their stay. In our own office in Bhutan, 12% of the company’s profit is also set aside each year as bonus for our permanent staffs, which comes from these local communities. Guides and local trekking crews are insured for the duration of the trek. Staffs are encouraged to take holiday leave and spend time with their families, and rejuvenate. We get together during lunch breaks and coffee breaks for strong office bonding, team work and informal discussions including responsible travel. We use restaurants and retail outlets which employ local people paying a fair wage, providing safe and healthy working conditions, produce products in a way that minimises environmental degradation etc. We contribute economically to local communities by purchasing locally grown / produced, where possible. When possible, we purchase fresh vegetables and food from the local communities along the trek routes. We use pack animals of the local communities for trekking that promote equitable income distribution and perhaps in small ways also counteract rural-urban migration. In our itinerary, we incorporate visit of farm house and offer options for our guests try local authentic cuisine, which gives unique experience to our clients and extra income to the farmers.
- We empathise with Community based tourism and promote it as one of the best way of travelling to Bhutan
- We suggest and promote where possible, locally owned and family run accommodations rather than large international chains hotels. We suggest home stays for our guests who are interested, believing that not only does the money from home stay directly benefit the local community, but guests gain an authentic insight into traditional lifestyles.
- We discourage giving out of gifts such as pens, pencils, sweets, etc, to the children or locals to stop the acts of begging. Instead, we advise our clients to perhaps donate it to the schools or institutions they visit.
- Dress code, such as dressing appropriately and taking of shoes and hats while entering sacred places are conveyed to the clients, so that not only will the local respect our clients but the locals feel respected of their culture and beliefs. • Visit to the local cottage industry such as Traditional Art Institute, Handmade Paper factory, local handicraft workshops, Textile Weaving centre, local Artists and others not only add value to our clients visit, it also help sustain and encourage traditional local industry.
- Whenever possible, we discourage local communities from selling their old household items that have social and cultural values.
- We encourage and bring our guests little visited area thus the tourist expenditure benefits broader geographic areas, rather than the more popular tourists destinations alone.
- Maximum care is taken to ensure that our operations do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people, and ensure that our type and scale of tourism is appropriate to local conditions and operates within the limits set by local appropriate infrastructure and carrying capacity.
Sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Code of conduct for our Bhutan Tour Guides of Wind Horse
We have following policies in place for our Guides in Bhutan.
- Guide shall represent the country and company unbiased, impartially and objectively.
- Inform the tourists factually and in fair manner regarding the country and its people.
- Perform the duty by applying professional skills and knowledge acquired though training and experience with dedication and enthusiasm.
- Shall be concerned at all times for the safety of the tourists.
- Be loyal to the company that you represent and also to the overseas partner.
- Always wear national dress properly and be suitably groomed while on tour.
- Guide your guests in environmentally and culturally responsible manner.
- Carry out the itinerary to his/her best abilities and consult appropriate authorities for assistance if required.
- Be proud to be a Bhutanese tour guide and take pride in your profession.
- Act responsibly and avoid potentially dangerous situations.
- At all times show willingness to provide optimum support and quality service to all tourists and at the same time respect their privacy.
- At no time be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while on tour.
- Do not solicit clients for your own gain.
- While on tour avoid chewing doma/tobacco/smoking or any narcotic substances.
- While on duty avoid using mobile phones, unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Avoid inappropriate familiarity with his/her guests.
- The guide shall no way discriminate in rendering service to any tourists on the basis of color, gender, ethnicity, nationality, physically challenged, age, etc.
- Be punctual, helpful and reliable, honest, conscientious and tactful at all times.
- Always endeavour to broaden your knowledge by reading books and other materials and not provide guests with misleading information.
- The tour guide should be well aware of Tourism Policies and Rules and adhere to the Regulations of all appropriate authorities, e.g. National Parks, Cultural sites, etc.
- The guide must respect the cultural difference and individual views and beliefs.
- The guide must refrain from using any language and conduct that could offend members in the group.
- Give support and assistance to any organizations and individuals that help to promote environment and tourism in overall.
- Wear Guide license/name tag on a prominent place so that clients can easily recognize you.
- The guide will re-confirm / reservations of hotels / meals and flights according to the itinerary one day before the arrival of guests at a particular place.
- Guide shall deal with conflict in a sensitive and responsible manner.
- In case of any emergency, guide shall report to the office and follow the prescribed procedure for handling the situation – situation dependent.
- The guide shall not compel tourists to shop at businesses which pay you commission while neglecting the tour sightseeing programme.
Procedure for handling clients complaint
The Management of Wind Horse Tours takes complaints seriously, as we recognize it is an essential part of the business and important instrument to improve the quality of services and customer satisfaction. During the course of your trip to Bhutan, our office Manager or Partner in the company will call you every few days to ensure of your comfort and enjoyment. We will expect you to inform him or her in straight forward way of any discrepancies, dislikes and changes you would like to see. We will also provide the Office bearers’ mobile as well as direct phone lines. You can call from anywhere and we will reimburse any extra cost of this call. Most hotels in Bhutan have our account, so that you can call our office at any point and cost will be borne by us. This will enable us to take the actions right way and save your valuable vacation.
After the trips is complete and after the actions are taken, should you still feel that your expectation or services were not met, we have our Complaint Handling Procedure in place. Guest can either chose to call the office while in the country to talk to the management or fill up the feedback form or email. We would appreciate and feel best to call us while in the country and sit down together to discuss the problem. As far as possible, our tour representative or tour guide will also try his/her best to solve the problem on the ground at their level.
If you choose to file the complaints after departing, email with your name and contact details and trip name, guide name etc. Anonymous complaints will not be entertained but will be recorded and filed for our purpose. In case of written complaint, our head office will reply to the complaint within one week and try to resolve the problem in a manner consistent with company policy with copy to the agent as well. All reasonable efforts will be made to resolve the complaints as quickly as possible. We value our clients’ complaint or feed back and take it as an opportunity to improve the quality of services and products we promote.
We highly appreciate your feedback as it will assist us in becoming better at what we do. As with any business like ours, the greatest advertising we can have is word of mouth from a satisfied customer. It’s our goal to retain you as a satisfied customer and will hope to serve you again in the future.