The reason that members of the team at Community Action Treks became involved with the Company in the first place (as opposed to other trekking companies) is because of its strong ethical stance and approach to responsible tourism. We know we have a small but important part to play in promoting travel and tourism but in a way which is consistent with our philosophy:
Giving back to the local Himalayan communities
Our Directors and shareholders have declined to participate in profit sharing for many years. Instead they have agreed that CAT should do what it can to support the work of the charity, Community Action Nepal. A large proportion of our surplus funds each year are donated to support their work in the High Himalaya, with the small remainder of our profits being invested back into our own business to help us continually improve our services.
Work with other charities
The teams at CAT very much enjoy working with fundraisers from other charities. We are happy to customise treks to suit the timetables of different charities and meet the often varied expectations of their group members. The prospect of providing further employment for our trekking crews, coupled with a supply of new funds to support the charities who are our partners, is enticing and validating.
Group project work
CAT has enjoyed working with groups and CAN on major building projects and is always ready to commit to new projects. Examples of successful projects recently are the building of a hostel for schoolchildren at Melamchigaun, the building of classrooms at Purano Duwar, the improvement to the water supply and toilets at Chiti Tilahar school and land stabilisation work at Majgaon. West Yorkshire Scouts, Overgate Hospice and Who Cares? Scotland have taken the lead in these projects, CAT has been pleased to organise all the logistics and CAN has provided the link to the communities and the technical building support.
Aviation is not the largest source of green house gas emissions contributing to climate change, but it is the fastest growing. We have taken the view that carbon offsetting for travellers is very much a personal choice, however we decided that all CAT team members travel would be offset.
As with most companies which are sensitive to their environmental impact, we do everything we can to recycle, not use plastic, keep our paper usage to the minimum, compost our shredded material and we have moved to an office near Wigton, Cumbria which makes the most use of natural daylight, is low on energy consumption and recycles water.
Fair working conditions
Doug Scott, CAT’s founder, wanted to ensure that people, who had supported him on his mountaineering expeditions and continued to be employed in the trekking industry, could enjoy fair wages and working conditions – this was a prime reason for establishing CAT in the first place. By employing our teams directly in Nepal we can offer a decent wage and make sure that our staff are properly clothed and fed whilst on trek. We maintain this philosophy when selecting partner agents in other countries. We also source supplies locally and employ local porters in order to benefit, economically, the regions through which we trek.
CAT does not often apply for Tourism Awards but has received the Virgin Holidays Award for Responsible Tourism and in May 2009 was named as one of three finalists in the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Awards–in the Community Benefit Category. CAT was selected as a finalist because we ‘show a positive contribution to cultural heritage and a commitment to capacity building required for Travel & Tourism in destination areas, including fair wages, opportunities for local community input and empowerment on tourism development planning, and training and educational opportunities that result in economic and social benefits for local communities, including career advancement