The Inspiration behind socialtours.com | How it all started
Written by Raj Gyawali.
We get this question quite a bit - how did it all start, why is it called socialtours? So here it is
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 service learning 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.
Our Vision and Mission
socialtours.com travels & socialtrek.com adventures envisions a global community that supports social development through tourism. We are dedicated to the creation and demonstration of a new corporate concept of linked prosperity. Our mission consists of three interrelated parts:
To provide our clients with a memorable holiday experiences through proper planning and implementation of tours and treks that exceed their expectations.
To initiate ways to improve the quality of life of a broad community: local, national and international, through actively recognising the central role a business holds in the structure of society.
To operate the company on a sound financial basis of profitable growth, thereby creating career opportunities within the local community and increasing value for shareholders and financial rewards for all employees.
Underlying the mission of socialtours.com travels & socialtreks.com adventures is the determination to seek new and creative ways of addressing all three statements, whilst holding a deep respect for all individuals and the communities of which they are a part.
All business that socialtours.com travels & socialtreks.com adventures does is based on the following six values:
respect for every individual
Businesses are like families. Every person has a different role to play that when played well, creates a happy family. Every individual deserves respect and each and every issue that a person has requires special attention.
honesty & integrity
Honesty and integrity are always the best policies and will inevitably pay dividends. An open, honest business makes steady progress.
continued excellence in delivery
Quality should never to be compromised and can always be improved on. It is the strongest marketer of products and the only element that can create a lasting impression.
social responsibility of business
Without the support of society a business cannot survive. Giving back to society is the only way a business can fulfill this commitment. Every business has a commitment towards society as a whole.
money is never the only goal
Profits have to be made but never by means that go against our values. Making a business successful is a Dharma (a spiritual good) for society and results in a good Karma.
the importance of environmental conservation
The environment is our greatest asset and needs preservation. Exploiting nature is short term and yields unsustainable dividends whereas protecting nature is long term and yields sustainable dividends.