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Kune-Vain, Lezha

Responsible Travel Policy

Wander Shpk is focused mainly on out of the ordinary itineraries, organized for small groups To achieve this goal we have the help of local individuals and show different unique perspectives. We have a large database and update it constantly, for those, who want to participate even a little bit in their travel experience.

We encourage our clients to be more of an individual tourist rather than a classical tourist. Being able to be socially and culturally aware when they travel, understanding their effect on the places they visit and trying to have a positive effect on the locals they meet. We love it if our clients, before taking a photo or selfie, take a minute to enjoy and appreciate the view around them, talk to locals, and try to learn at least a small amount of our language. There are so many hospitable, friendly people we meet along the way.

We spend a lot of time counseling our potential guests, to respect the people, culture and environment of the places they visit and therefore stay at inns/guesthouses and hotels which have a sustainability program.

We try to educate our clients on how to be environmentally responsible. So that on their next travel adventure, their experience will be enhanced and enriched while at the same time helping to improve the world around them.

We only employ local people part time who can serve as guides .We work only with hospitable inns/guesthouses and hotel owners and small boat owners. We also work with locals who serve traditional culinary meals and if asked for will include the guests/clients in preparing the meals. When it comes to having meals on the road we only stop at farm to table restaurants. Through the success of our program, we are having an increase in guests. This is having a ripple effect on growth in small remote areas.

Special experiences in different arenas with the help of locals are also very important. One can, if so desired experience horse back or donkey back riding; hiking to nature areas like small lakes; caves and canyons.

For those clients wanting to learn how to prepare and cook local dishes or local drinks such as gliko and raki, our national beverage we offer classes/seminars during and off season.

We encourage and train the younger generation to spend time in our remote areas, so they can they can help teach our guests different skills during the season such as intensive foreign language courses (Mainly English) as well as courses in rafting, canoeing, mountain biking and hiking. These lessons are offered and sponsored by us in collaboration with other local and foreign NGOs. We provide training in how one should behave toward animals in the presence of tourists as well. At times we donate needed equipment and materials to these classes, so that the above mentioned activities can be performed.

The growth in the number of tourists to Albania the last few years has led to an increase in negative environmental and social impacts of tourism, such as resource consumption, pollution and the generation of wastes. We as a Tour Operator play a central role in the tourism industry, serving as intermediary between tourists and tourism service providers. We can influence the choices of consumers, the practices of suppliers and the development patterns of destinations. This unique role means that we try to make an important contribution to furthering the goals of sustainable tourism development and protecting the environmental and cultural resources on which the tourism industry depends for its survival and growth.

We provide training seminars to local tour leaders, including information on the main environmental and social threats of tourism, particularly trekking trips. The leaders are introduced to the best practices, which they can promote and recommend when leading tours in environmentally and socially sensitive areas. Here are a few examples:

1. At the moment in collaboration with AOS (Albanian Ornithological Society), we are offering training on the habits and reproduction habits of birds in the lakes and lagoons of Albania, so that tours do not disrupt or damage the wild life.

2. We are training 3-4 families, along the river Buna, to offer the service of “open house hospitality”. In this region SUP activity is starting to be popular due to optimal natural conditions. This hospitality offers guests stops for a rest, have some Turkish coffee and home grown fruits/vegetables, as they listen to stories told by the grandma of the house dressed in traditional costume.

Our company and guests routinely aid in the cleaning of the tour/hiking paths, . During the off-season period our company is engaged with other nature conservationists in planting trees, for the National Parks. The most recent one is the participation in the initiative “Plant a tree for Saranda” – the initiative of a group of youngsters whose parents are from Saranda.

• Albania is small, but at the same time blessed with beautiful, different natural landscapes . Wrong doings from visitors can have an immediate and noticeable impact.

• We train, guide and urge visitors, not to throw away bottles, plastic bags or other non-biodegradable remnants especially in the narrow valleys, forest paths, small mountain creeks, lagoons and small lakes. Lagoons and lakes are habitats for many animals and bird species and should be avoided. We also encourage our clients not to make disturbing noise with motor vehicles etc.

• We actually organize boat silence tours operated by local fishermen, in order to visit the islands were Dalmatian Pelicans nest and reproduce.

• We advise our clients that fishing is permitted only in some areas and that hunting is prohibited anywhere for the next few years.

• All our guides are equipped with backpacks to carry trash, whenever a picnic lunch or other activities takes place in the midst of nature. In case of a self- driving tour, visitors are instructed and equipped with items to carry trash as well. They will also receive a local sim card and instrctions as to where the wifi hotspots are.

• Special advice is also given for the use of hot springs which in most cases are to be found in the wild.

We send out travel information to our clients via pre-travel information booklets by PDF.

We continuously try to reduce the use of paper and printed brochures. Next to sending our program brochure electronically in PDF, we also use the App “Google Keep” for Android and IOS, in distributing the daily program to guides and visitors. At the moment we use paper only for legal purposes of signed documents with the local institutions.

We limit the use of plastic bottles, offering reusable bottles together with portable frigo box. In all of the destinations there are sources with drinking water.

We use mostly inns, which collaborate in certain areas together with other donors for the re-forestation of the damaged areas of the transition period of the nineties.

We really try to always to include mini-concerts of folk songs and dances. A few younger people are recently being encouraged to cultivate local traditional music, as opposed to a few years ago, when only old people were keeping it alive for their own enjoyment. The younger people are realizing that this new found hobby is actually also generating additional income.

We strongly encourage our guests to buy local hand made products, together with local, special drinks and food products. We continuously help our local partners to improve the way of presenting their offers and products.

Travelers are provided with accurate pre-trip information on the social and political situation in Albania and we pay attention, next to the general political climate in Albania, as well as to the specific social situations for every travel destination in the itinerary, including the most remote areas.

Hospitality is one of the most appreciated values among tourists when asked about this country. Albanians are very friendly to foreigners in general, which comes from ancient times, respecting "besa" code (house of the Albanian is for God and the guest). They are very open to understanding another culture. Still we inform them of the local culture and rituals. These however do not differ too much from other Balkan countries.