Buffalo Tours launches several new initiatives to ensure that the benefits of tourism reach disadvantaged communities.
In collaboration with local NGOs and community leaders, Buffalo Tours has vowed to systematically implement practices that create opportunities for marginalized individuals through tourism. These initiatives include incorporating an increasing number of social enterprises into the supply chain, funding education and vocational training, as well as creating new tours and experiences that directly benefit local communities.
“In 2017, we introduced 20 new social enterprises into our supply chain, this is in addition to the 30 social enterprises that we already actively support.” said Graham Harper, Director of Educational and Responsible Travel. “This year we plan to develop at least 20 new tours that support responsible tourism, as well as implement a number of initiatives and training programs for the benefit of local communities.”
Buffalo Tours primarily works with social enterprises that provide vocational training in hospitality, catering, leisure and tourism. In addition, the Asian tour operator is piloting a new project to provide education and training for disadvantaged youth, through a guide school program known as Destination Ambassadors.
Destination Ambassadors was launched in 2017 in Bali and provides young Indonesians with guide training, language courses and employment opportunities upon completion. The cost of the program is carried by Buffalo Tours, including a monthly stipend for participants to support themselves and their family while enrolled. An official guide license is also provided upon successful completion.
“All destinations can benefit immensely from an inclusive tourism economy, not only to help support community development, but also to provide travellers with better experiences and quality services.” said Malte Blas, Communications Lead for the Buffalo Tours Responsible Travel Working Group.
The Destination Ambassadors program has already been well-received, with a total of 36 participants completing the training in 2017. As a result, Buffalo Tours is now planning to expand the program to Vietnam and Thailand. In addition to their own training initiatives, Buffalo Tours has partnered with local NGO BaliWISE to help provide marginalized women in Bali with education and employment opportunities. A total of 120 women will have completed their education and vocational training internships between January 2017 and April 2018.
According to Peter Christiansen, Country Manager for Buffalo Tours Indonesia, this is just the beginning of a comprehensive plan to tackle major social, economic and environmental issues throughout the 11 destinations in which Buffalo Tours operate.
“These initiatives are part of our holistic approach to responsible tourism development. We recently made an ambitious effort to cut down on plastic waste, that produced promising results in the first year and far exceeded our initial expectations.” said Christiansen. “This has encouraged us to push even harder to develop long-term solutions for the benefit of travellers and our host communities.”