We get this question quite a bit - how did it all start, why is it called socialtours? So here it is
The inspiration behind socialtours.com
Written by Raj Gyawali, Founder Director
In 1998, while still working in the manufacturing and export industry, me and my partner facilitated the travel of a group of students from the UK to Nepal. The idea was simple. Make no profits and use the profit to help build a hostel for a school up in the mountains. We charged each student 200 GBP more, brought in over 20 kids and raised 4000 GBP, which went to the building of the hostel. The trip included Nepal classics, the best whitewater, the best trekking and an Elephant safari. Was a big success.
Two years later, we did it again, bringing in student and funds for conducting a cataract eye camp in the villages, 6000 USD worth of medical support. Again a grand success.
Thus the seed of social tourism was set in my mind. Armed with this, in 2002, I set up socialtours.com travels, based on CSR principles, a responsible tourism policy, a value based decision making process, and basically three very basic principles – to be sensitive to the environment and the culture, and to contribute into the local economy.
Today, we are a thriving business, with a sister organization called socialtreks.com adventures, exclusively focused on trekking and soft adventure, twelve full time staff, and a stakeholder base which exceeds 200 people.
Today we inspire guides, porters, primary, secondary and tertiary suppliers with our responsible practices. We have never vertically integrated, choosing rather to spread the tourism dollar amongst hotels, restaurants, gear shops, transportation services, guides, porters, airlines, etc.
We are in the forefront in Nepal on responsibility expertise and have already been nominated four times for the prestigious Responsible Tourism Awards in the UK (World Travel Mart). We play a lead role in the activities and pratices of the Sustainable Tourism Network in Nepal, the MAST program, and a leading role in the Fringe RT Network worldwide. We initiate new networking and joint marketing efforts such as the Green Circuit in the sub-continent, and also design off beat products in Nepal such as the Tamang Heritage Trail, the Chepang Hill Trail, Shamanism Treks etc. We actively promote voluntourism in Nepal (focusing on responsible volunteering) and are working on the principles and management of Travel Philanthropy (which can be devastating if unchecked).
Today we are one of Nepal’s leading ‘soft adventure’ specialists, selling holiday packages and constantly working to improve ourselves and the industry. We also are one of Nepal’s first travel companies to work on a custom tailored responsibility audit of our company, which finds indicators to measure our principles and creates actions to improve on them.