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Why should we not sell responsible tourism products?

We were overwhelmingly enchanted when the DMCs proudly shared with us the feedback of the customers who experienced many Slow Tours during 3 days in Hue. Upon returning home, the travelers told the overseas Tour Operator, passed onto the DMCs.

The general conclusion from my client was the following.

All in all, the trip was a top experience, nicely balanced, with very often the feeling that we did go to very special places, away from the general tourist flow. So, credits for Team *name of the DMC*.

A few responsible Tour Operators offer Hue for 3 nights to include more impacful discoveries

Over the past few years, we have had more and more partners, DMCs, who show interest in integrating our impactful services into their tour design. We praise them for their trust and support as they value our responsible operations, though we have avoided calling out “responsible tourism”. Our “SLOW” concept would entail many integral purposes to make the travel experience more immersive, engaging, and meaningful.

On other occasions when new partners approached us for responsible tourism products, we could have taken the booking, add many requested services and earn more revenue. Simple as such. But NO, we took time to advise back even if we may lose this booking or the opportunity to work with new partners.

Good tour! Cycling is always good. Then you can hear, smell and see everything. By car would go too fast. Our tour guide made it more interesting! We are your guest but we really interested in your country. Khanh is top!

Cycling, rowing sampan, lending a helping hand in Thanh Toan village

Why we do what we do?

Firstly, responsible, or sustainable tourism is not a product!

The concept of tourism products emerged with the arrival of mass transportation, leading to the industrial model of “fordism” production and consumption, for example all-inclusive resorts, packaged holidays, etc. Then it has evolved with tailor-made, luxury tourism products and bettered up with sustainable tourism or responsible tourism products. Products have parts and functions. The key objectives when selling them are volume and price, by cleverly promoting trendy features and relevant shout-out. In the case of responsible tourism products, the marketing vocabulary may include “locally sourced”, “fair trade”, “organic”, “community-based”, “equitable” etc. But What Is In It For Me? The travellers may ask?

We should embrace a mindset change and offer more authentic, previledged experiences. Through that process, we start to tell better travel stories. A real story must have a beginning, development, an end, filled with characters, events, locations and drama. It must have a strong meaning and cohesion.

Who tells the stories? In the travel context, we must provide opportunities to connect visitors to local places and engaged communities who should be significant players to actively create meaningful tourism narratives. The conscious travelers will then savor an experience that exceeds their dreams and expectations and no longer just be a passive consumer of “sustainable” commodities like anywhere else.

Nous avons été plongés dans la vraie vie des paysans vietnamiens. Nous avons été touchés par leur générosité, leur accueil, Merci infiniment.

Meet hospitable fishermen in Tam Giang Lagoon

Secondly, we treasure every business referral, your success is our mission.

Hence, we must provide the best insights for you, the travel consultants, and the customers to make informed decisions since the holiday inception.

For these authentic, unforgettable encounters to take place, we must purposefully craft an itinerary with the right timing, right place, right people for the right values they can share. There is no one-size-fit-all especially when it comes to experience. However, thanks to frequent fine tuning with customer testimonials, each Slow Travel reinforces the consistency to deliver all-round happiness.

Outstanding! Tuan made our time in Hue amazing. We would recommend him and our tour to others. It is so educational, enjoyable and savory. Honestly I could not even begin to offer or think of anything to change. It was more than perfect.

Encounter between Dr.Zink and Dr.Lan to discuss about cultural preservation and women projects in Kim Long village

Here are a few things we recommend our partners to avoid:

  • Adding many fragmented or long drives between places to superficially “sell” more responsible tourism. It is better to deeply connect with one place, one community to truly generate the impacts. Needless to mention CO2 emission.
  • Viewing narrowly just one facet of sustainability, leading to the denial of other impactful projects that implicitly embrace transformation (e.g., circularity, gender equity, social inclusion).
  • Alternating the core activity with other visits without understanding the rooted immersion and the symbiotic relations of places, people, purposes. Without a trip cohesion, a conscientious travel becomes merely a physical movement.

Excellent concept, food + culinary experience was wonderful and explanations of guide very helpful and great cultural exchange. Glad we had the oppotunity to participate in this Foodie & Cyclo tour.

Eat locally, improve livelihood for rickshaw driver

There is more DON’Ts, however we’d better learn more positive perception from the right DOs, through a few customer testimonials as above.

In conclusion, it is the fulfillment of the host community, the visitors, that counts. Let’s avoid selling responsible tourism as a commodity, shout-out product but facilitate powerful storytelling. Together we will weave up a more responsible tourism narrative, for the ultimate happiness of all involved people, nature and culture integrity and the destination sustainability.

Sustainability, Happiness, Nature

Our mascot is a humanised turtle wearing a heart shaped shell, travelling slowly and happily. The head leans on Sustainability to promote a “tourism that respects both local people and the traveler, cultural heritage and the environment”. Our heart shares Happiness or “Fulfilling in connecting”. Our hands embrace Nature to provide eco-friendly services.

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