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Why Fairtrade Is Important In Travel

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When we founded TravelLocal we wanted to find a way to give locally-owned travel companies a greater share of the money that we all pay to see the world (by 'locally owned travel companies' we mean those domiciled in the country you're travelling to - so if you're travelling to India, an Indian travel company with offices in India).

It would be a lengthy blog post to explain how the travel industry works. Suffice to say that locally-owned travel companies - often small, but innovative and highly customer-focused - can get a rough deal, especially at the hands of some of the huge travel companies who use their buying power to drive down the price they pay for local services, rather like some supermarkets.

There needs to be a better way, and we think TravelLocal is a great start: we want to make travel fairer and for it to benefit local people and local economies as much as possible.

One of the best examples of utilising Fairtrade principles in travel that we know of is the World Fairtrade Organisation's (WFTO) list of 10 Fairtrade Principles. Travel and tourism are not yet included under the Fairtrade scheme, but we think these principles, if applied to travel, can improve things for everyone - from the customer all the way through to staff in the destination.

In particular we think principles two, three and four are crucial and in very short supply in the global travel industry. Here's how we try to adhere to them:

Transparency and Accountability - We display all the companies we work with openly on the website. As our customers can see from our emails, we have very open communication with all our partners, and they with us. We are all linked together by Skype and email and both parties can communicate directly with anyone in the organisation.

Fair Trade Practices - This is one that many travel companies fail on. All our partners are on the website by consent. Their commercial arrangements with customers are completely autonomous (they can display whatever price they deem to be fair). All the terms and conditions are agreed with TravelLocal - there is no compulsion. All our local travel companies are treated with respect and trust and as peers in the contracting process.

Payment Of A Fair Price - all prices on TravelLocal are set by the local companies. They have the autonomy to decide what their fair price is.

We hope at some point that Fairtrade expands into the travel industry. We think it's an industry in need of change and that, if customers knew more about how it works, they would change the companies that they buy their trips from. We would encourage everyone to buy local with confidence when it comes to travel services.

If you have any questions about our company philosophy and how we work in each country, please email us directly at team@travellocal.com or call +44 1865 242 709. We would love to hear from you.

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