Travel Daily Media’s chief operating officer, Darren Brodie, recently visited Hanoi to see first-hand the efforts of ASIA DMC, a prominent tourism operator for the past 20 years in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, and how they give back to the environment to promote sustainable tourism in a practical and measurable manner. The event was named the “Roots and Fruits” campaign.
The world is awash with talk of carbon offsets and sustainable tourism, however ASIA DMC’s CEO & founder, Tran Thanh Nam, is taking his responsibilities to the environment, the impoverished, sustainable tourism, and a corporate culture that reflects his personal mission to a new level.
For Mr Nam, environmental responsibility should never be treated as a PR exercise. It is an aspect of life he takes very seriously, to the extent of measuring his own company’s carbon footprint, by way of calculating the carbon emissions of the company operations, right through to staff daily traveling effects on the environment. Success also hinges on a company culture of embracing environmental improvements, and actively volunteering in the many initiatives undertaken by the HG Foundation. The children of the volunteers also enjoy a day out in the countryside.
But planting trees to offset business carbon waste is just the beginning of this story.
Having witnessed widespread destruction of forests in Vietnam and neighbouring countries over the years, HG Holdings through its HG Foundation now extends its efforts into helping the impoverished, by training people on the land to grow fruit trees to provide an economically sustainable means of survival, whilst improving the environment.
Mr Nam’s clear passion for the environment extends into sustainable tourism, working with industry partners to engage tourists in visits to the Foundation community projects and actively planting trees, a great way for people to expand their experience and improve their understanding of their host country.
Mr Darius Postma, Director of the HG Foundation, also shared the following initiatives and successes of the foundation:
“Our ambition with the Foundation is to be a catalyst for real change – directly through our business – indirectly by working in partnership with other organizations. Real change can only be achieved by working together,” Postma said.
“We have built a really strong platform and have some notable successes like the Big Clean-up events we organise with the Bhaya Group, IUCN and others from the Ha Long-Cat Ba alliance. Through our work, the use of polystyrene in the bay has been banned and a call made for its replacement. The second event happened on the 10 January 2017 with the first one in June last year. And we will do another clean-up event in the coming summer.
“In February we launched the “Save the Langur” campaign to raise awareness and funds for the critically endangered Cat Ba Langur. It is estimated there are less than 60 of them left. We designed a soft toy and fridge magnets which we sell on Bhaya and Au Co cruise boats, along with other Langur souvenirs, a donation of 50% of the profits towards the programme. The fabric for the plush toy is dyed by the Hmong ethnic minority group with natural indigo leaves, it is then hand stitched by the Tan Linh disadvantaged group in Hanoi, the production process is under supervision of Craftlink, a local NGO that promotes traditional crafts and arts.
“This is what I mean when I say we want to be a catalyst for real change, socially and environmentally. Projects that deliver benefits to all the parties involved. The langur project is an example of what I call a full circle CBT project – an end to end benefit. Similarly with the Roots & Fruits campaign we wanted to do it differently so I developed a mix of 75% fruit trees and 25% normal trees.
“Fruit trees carbon sequestration is about half of what normal trees are. So 11kg and 22kg per annum. So the 25% helps to boost the environmental impact whilst the fruit trees, although mitigating less, boosts social impact by creating micro economies in effect. Over the lifetime of the trees we can sequestrate more than 230,000kg of carbon whilst producing more than 100,000kg of fruit,” he concluded.
ASIA DMC, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is currently undertaking a major expansion strategy across Asia.