Our Commitment to Ethical Volunteering & Tourism
I, and the entire company, were upset to hear through a media mention in New Zealand that one of our travellers was disappointed in a recent trip to volunteer with Orangutans in Malaysia which fell short of the amazing experiences we strive to provide and, to make matters worse, that the follow up was overlooked due to an internal change over in staff.
For every single one of our customers we send overseas each year, we strive to maintain an above average customer satisfaction rating. We endeavour to not only provide our customers with life-changing travel experiences where they can live, breathe and become a part of a new culture abroad - but to make lasting, meaningful impacts to great causes along the way.
As part of this goal, we take our commitment to ethical volunteering & tourism, particularly animal welfare, extremely seriously. When a recent customer got in touch with us about her disappointing experience, we investigated. We take our commitment to our standards so seriously, that as a culmination of our internal review we have decided to stop working with the local operator of this trip entirely. Green Lion Travel Pvt. Ltd., trading as ‘The Green Lion’, has been our provider for two of our volunteering trips to Bali & Malaysia in recent years.
This is a global multinational company that works with many travel organisations like us around the world, and whom we have worked with for a number of years. During this time we had consistently received glowing reviews from our Global Travellers regarding their experiences. But only very recently, we received some poor feedback regarding the state of their conservation efforts and that they may no longer be putting animal welfare before business or tourism. We raised some questions that couldn’t be answered well enough to satisfy us, and so because of this we’ve decided to no longer offer these two trips, or to partner with this company any further.
Animal welfare is at the heart of why we do what we do. Whether it’s through The Global Foundation, being co-creators of Rescue Paws in Thailand or by sending excited travellers overseas to work on conservation, community education or rehab & rescue volunteering opportunities by the thousands per year, we ensure that we only partner with reputable operators for all our trips. We try to hold ourselves to high standards, and we expect the same from the companies we work with. The information we provide about these trips is provided directly by the operating partners themselves and our Supplier Relations Manager regularly audits, reviews and has partners confirm this information is correct and up to date. Any trip that cannot be guaranteed to meet our standards gets removed from our offering; as simple as that.
Moving forward, we will be making some adjustments to our partner services. We will review our quality control procedures of operators to ensure they continually meet our expectations and provide nothing but positive, ethical and meaningful opportunities to our Global Travellers. With 100 staff members across our three Global offices, we will also be taking steps to improve customer service where we can. For anyone that is booked in to either our now-cancelled VO-16 Orangutan Conservation or VO-14 Cultural Bali Adventure trips, your Trip Coordinator will be in touch soon to discuss alternative travel experiences. Should you have further questions, we welcome you to get in touch.
Jürgen Himmelmann, CEO