ATG’s founding principles of Conservation and Sustainable Tourism Development
The idea behind Sustainable Tourism Development is, of course, that tourism should ‘sustain’ its own resource. This might be conservation of water, or the natural unspoilt beauty of the country, beaches of clean white sand, or the profusion and variety of flowers, plants, birds and animals (biodiversity), traditional ways of life, and cultural heritage. Conserve these – the reasons for people to visit an area – and tourism can ‘sustain’ the local community for centuries. Degrade or destroy, and the resource will be lost forever, and often with it the economic viability of the community.
Island of Levanzo: Best of Western Sicily
Environmental management: How we ‘deliver’ what we promise…
All ATG systems are compliant with the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard, which is used in conjunction with the ‘Investors in People’ Management Standard to create a culture of ‘environmental best practice’ throughout the organisation. ATG’s aim is to continually raise standards. We achieved ISO accreditation in 2006 (remains current) and Investors in People in 1991, the year of its inception. ATG is one of only 3 UK companies who have retained IIP status since then.
Click here for ATG’s Environmental Policy
ATG’s MD Christopher Whinney with Michael Howard, then Secretary of State for Employment, at the 1991 inaugural Investors In People awards.
Since 1979 ATG has been committed to its founding principles of Conservation and Sustainable Development: long-term pioneers of environmental best practice in the tourism industry.
Travel: ‘Greenhouse Gases’
All ATG vehicle use include the appropriate ‘Carbon Offset’ contribution – to fund projects such as reforestation, which compensate for CO2 emissions.
All trips comprise walking or cycling: travel with the lowest environmental impact. Group size limited to 16 and restriction of daily numbers on independent routes minimise environmental impact.
Every year ATG and the ATG Trust carry out conservation projects in partnership with local communities. These promote sustainable tourism by conserving the resources that attract visitors to an area, and the economic future of the community is assured.
Environmental Audits are carried out on all new areas visited. Those areas found to be too ecologically or socially fragile to withstand the impact of tourism (despite huge pressures of ‘Marketing Advantage’) are not included in ATG programmes. Appropriate Sustainable Development projects are carried out, to involve local communities in conservation of their environmental and cultural heritage and the creation of local wealth through tourism.
The Piano Grande, Monti Sibillini National Park: Unknown Umbria, Flowers of Umbria
Pollution, Energy & Waste
All systems, products and materials used by ATG are assessed for their environmental impact.
- Pollution is reduced by use of ecologically ‘green’ products.
- Recycling of waste, whether office paper or picnic packaging, is rigorously practiced.
- Published objectives of ATG Tour and Route Managers include keeping ATG routes cleared of trash/rubbish/litter (litter pickers provided).
- Materials that are recycled or from a sustainable source are used wherever possible.
- Energy used in manufacturing and transport together with pollution caused is reviewed and alternatives with lowest environmental impact are sought (e.g. smaller, lighter brochures, use of internet etc.)
Economic support for local communities
- Over 60% of all ATG revenue is spent within local communities.
- Most hotels and restaurants used are family-owned and run, so preventing ‘leakage’ of generated wealth from the community.
- Most hotels and restaurants used are converted from traditional, sometimes historic, buildings, so preserving local heritage.
- ATG picnics and restaurant meals are almost invariably comprised of locally grown (organic) produce.
- An ‘ATG Green Shopping Guide’ promotes the local ‘Green Economy’ in each area visited.
- To create employment in the area visited, local people are employed wherever possible.
- All those who walk with ATG staff are trained in how to maximise economic contributions to local communities and so promote Sustainable Tourism.
The Camino de Santiago – photo by Colleen Fleming
Walking the Talk
ATG was the first winner of both the top international awards for Environmental Best Practice in the tourism industry. A particular feature of this achievement was ATG winning the major awards, simultaneously, in two very different categories: the ‘Tourism for Tomorrow Award’ for Business Organisations, and the ‘World Legacy Award’ for Heritage Tourism. Encouraged by these successes ATG increased its efforts, and with new-found confidence, that significant results were achievable, even by a small organisation, adopted greater challenges, including those involved with Sustainable Development in tourism.
ATG’s MD Christopher Whinney receiving National Geographic and Conservation International’s World Legacy Award from Queen Noor of Jordan.
The ATG Trust, which funds the projects, is an independent registered charity, dependent on fundraising and donations. ATG provides support for the Trust by covering all administration and fundraising expenses, so 100% of money donated or raised goes directly to funding the Trust projects. ATG also funds some projects independently. ATG Tour Leaders, Tour Managers and Route Managers play a crucial role – taking responsibility for managing the projects, as well as participating actively in fundraising events. The immense good will created within local communities ensures a warm welcome for all who travel with ATG, accompanied by the best service and value. In real terms, your holiday probably costs less. Everyone wins!
Click here for ATG Trust
Irises, Siena to Florence – photo by Adrian Woodford