Elite Travel Group’s Sustainability Plan

Posted on 23 June 2023

At Elite Travel Group we aim to provide a sustainable environment for ourselves, colleagues, and the community. Sustainability is a reality that we have embraced and decided to build our working model around, hoping to inspire everyone who interacts with us to turn it into a lifestyle. We have decided to take appropriate actions to reduce as much as possible the negative impact on the environment and society of our operations. We strive to create a better future, making every day better than yesterday and making a positive impact on our customers, suppliers, and associates. We work hard to create an example of best practices in the country and region. Our goal is for sustainability policies to be everywhere in the company, from the management level to the execution level. Staff, suppliers, and collaborators are expected to adhere to the objectives within this framework whenever possible within existing budgets.

Although we understand that our influence on the actions and third parties is tight, we try and do our best to inform them about our sustainability policies and encourage them to align their operating practices with the objectives of this policy.

Sustainability: Management and Legal Compliance

To manage our sustainability policies, we are committed to having a sustainability coordinator who has completed the basic training and examination from Travel Life, who is in charge of monitoring, reporting, and implementing the sustainability policies and action plan. Following this decision, we have explained and made public the sustainability mission statement and policy.

Their success guarantees carrying out a basic assessment of the company’s performance for sustainable practices and to ensure transparency regarding sustainability through reporting and public communication. An important part of this practice is the involvement of staff in the plan to be fully informed and ready to implement sustainability policies. This whole process is in harmony with the provided legal framework.

Sustainability: Central internal management

We provide all our employees with the freedom of employment and termination of the contract with notice and without penalty, including in their contracts working conditions following national employment law, job description, and wage rates equal to or above the statutory wage national. Also, we determine and compensate for overtime work based on agreement. Another important part of internal social management is social and health insurance according to national law.

We offer employees a fixed annual salary for holidays and leave for health reasons.

It is important to us to provide equal opportunities concerning recruitment, terms of employment, training opportunities, and senior positions for every candidate and we do not discriminate concerning gender, race, age, special abilities, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. We have a health and safety policy for employees that complies with national legal standards and ensure that they have first aid kits and trained staff available in all relevant locations. National regulations regarding the minimum age for employment apply. We do our best to regularly measure employee satisfaction and complaints and take measures for improvement. We offer opportunities to our employees to gain experience like their work and to advance in their careers within the company.

We declare that we do not prevent membership in trade unions, collective labor negotiations, and the representation of members by trade unions.

Sustainability: Internal environmental management

We are committed to actively reducing and (where possible) avoiding the use of consumer goods and disposable or limited-function products. We take action to improve internal waste management in compliance with the law by implementing waste reduction methods.

Sustainability: Partner Agencies

We have undertaken to inform strategic partners about national and Travelife standards on tourism, the sustainability policy of travel companies, and that they are expected to comply with it and/or communicate it to end customers where necessary. We practice including key sustainability clauses in contracts with inbound/host partners and motivate them to participate in sustainability training for travel companies.

Durability: Transport

We do our best to motivate and encourage partners to have their accommodations certified for sustainability. We prefer and select accommodations that are locally owned and managed, or that employ local communities, encouraging them to follow best practices for responsible tourism.

Another important part is the inclusion of standard sustainability clauses in all contracts with accommodation providers that focus on child labor, anti-corruption, bribery, waste management, and biodiversity protection.

We work with accommodations and restaurants that incorporate elements of local art, architecture, or cultural heritage; respecting the intellectual property rights of local communities. We ensure that throughout our accommodation supply chain, the rights of children are respected and protected, and have a zero-tolerance policy towards child sexual exploitation. Termination of cooperation with accommodation in case of clear evidence that contracted accommodation endangers the provision of the integrity of basic services such as food, water, energy, health care, or land to neighboring companies is indisputable.

Sustainability: Excursions and activities

We have an inventory of environmentally or culturally sensitive excursions available in every destination. Advising guests on standards of conduct during excursions and activities with a focus on respecting the local culture, nature, and environment and not offering any excursion that harms people, animals, plants, natural resources such as water and energy, or is socially unacceptable and cultural is a necessity for us. This also includes not offering any excursions in which wild animals are mistreated, except for activities properly regulated following local, national, and international law, and not being involved with companies that consume, exhibit, sell, or trade wild animal species, unless it is part of a regulated activity that ensures their presence is sustainable and in compliance with local, national, and international law.

We ensure that we have qualified and/or certified guides to guide our guests in culturally sensitive sites, heritage sites, or ecologically sensitive destinations.

Promoting and advising our guests on excursions and activities that directly involve and support local communities by purchasing services or goods, traditional crafts, and local production methods (food), or by visiting social projects or excursions and activities that support the local environment and biodiversity, for example. visiting protected areas or environmental protection projects is important to us.

Sustainability: Guides, local representatives, and guides

This includes ensuring that all employees have a written contract of employment, including terms of employment and a job description, and fully understand the terms and conditions of employment.

We prefer to work with local tour leaders, local representatives, local tour guides, porters, drivers, cooks, and other local staff of equal ability, and provide training as needed. Tour leaders, local representatives, guides, porters, and other local personnel contracted by us are paid at least a minimum wage that is equal to or above the legal minimum or the relevant industry standard.

We ensure that our tour guides, hosts, and other contract employees are qualified and regularly trained. Ensuring that our local employees are informed of relevant aspects of our sustainability policy and comply with it, through newsletters, references or contract addenda, emails, or training and information sessions is never overlooked.

We offer a special sustainable travel module in the training program for our local tour guides, which highlights key aspects of responsible tourism followed by the role expected of employees. This module also includes knowledge about the destination and related aspects of its sustainability.

Informing our customers, tour operators, local representatives, and guides about relevant sustainability issues in the destination (protection of flora, fauna, and cultural heritage, use of resources), social norms and values (tips, dress code, and photography), and human rights (sexual exploitation) we are convinced that we take our duty and responsibility to another level. Training of our employed tour leaders and local representatives to avoid child sexual exploitation. This will include training on how to screen claims related to the child abuse exemption.

Sustainability: Destinations

When it comes to choosing destinations, we try never to lose the element of originality, support, and responsibility. We consider sustainability aspects in the process of selecting new destinations and possibly offer alternative, non-mainstream destinations. We do not select destinations in which tourism leads to negative local structural effects, (unless the company’s involvement results in clear counterbalancing effects).

We take into account the selection of new destinations, which are accessible through more sustainable means of transport. We ensure that we do not run afoul of statutory spatial planning, protected areas, and heritage regulations. Also, destination management strategies of local, regional, and national authorities.

We support initiatives that improve the relationship between accommodation and local producers and try to influence and support the local government (where possible, together with other travel companies and stakeholders) concerning sustainability, destination planning, and management, the use of natural resources, and socio-cultural issues.

Supporting biodiversity conservation, including protected areas and high biodiversity areas, through financial contribution, political support, and integration into product offerings is another important pillar of our policies.

We do not promote souvenirs that contain threatened species of flora and fauna, as indicated in the CITES treaty and the “Red List” of the IUCN; or historical and archaeological objects (except were permitted by law). We support locally produced souvenirs and show which suppliers offer them to our customers.

Sustainability: Customers

We ensure that customer privacy is not compromised.

We adhere to relevant standards and voluntary codes of conduct in marketing and advertising messages and do not promise more than we deliver.

It is important to clarify complete and accurate product and pricing information about the company and its products and services, including sustainability claims.

Information on the destination, including sustainability aspects, which is factually accurate, balanced, and complete helps us inter alia to inform customers about the environmental impact of different transport options to reach the destination (in case these are not included in the package) and to offer sustainable alternatives, where available, promote (certified) sustainable accommodation, excursions, packages and/or transport options, with logos or other messages; ensuring they are recognized by the consumer and presented as the “best” option. Of course, this is related to informing customers about viable alternatives regarding accommodations, excursions, vacation packages, and transportation options, if any.

We never forget to inform (potential) customers about sustainability commitments and actions or provide information to consumers about the natural environment, local culture, and cultural heritage in the holiday destination, including key aspects and issues of sustainability in the destination and recommendations on how to make a positive contribution.

We inform customers about the risks and precautions related to health and safety issues at the destination and keep a contact person and a phone number permanently available for emergencies, but also train staff and keep available instructions on how to deal with emergencies.

We provide clients with documented guidelines and/or codes of conduct for sensitive excursions and activities to minimize adverse visitor impact and maximize satisfaction. Where possible, guidelines are developed in collaboration with relevant NGOs and the affected community. We provide customers with information on commercial, sexual, or any other form of exploitation and harassment, especially of children and adolescents, and inform them of applicable legislation regarding the purchase, sale, import, and export of historical or religious objects and items containing materials of threatened flora and/or fauna at the destination.

We prefer to encourage customers to use local restaurants and shops and let them know about sustainable transportation options at destinations when possible. We encourage you to donate to a local charity and sustainable initiatives.

We systematically measure customer satisfaction and consider the results for service and product improvement and include sustainability as an integral part of customer satisfaction research.

We have clear procedures in case of customer complaints.

Durability: The Green Team

The Green Team was created to work towards achieving our biggest goal, to be the first Albanian company certified by Travelife. Now that this goal has been achieved, the Green Team works systematically to observe, analyze and improve the conditions, factors, and interactions to maintain healthy sustainability practices.