The coast, villages and countryside of the Eastern Algarve and then explore the treasures of this most westerly corner of Europe.
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We all love to travel, but we're also acutely aware of its social and environmental impact, which is why we at Ramblers Walking Holidays are committed to making only gentle footprints in the countries we explore. As a travel company, by leading small groups, supporting local and global charitable causes and approaching all that we do ethically, we're able to minimise any adverse effects of our activities.
Travel enriches people’s lives and helps communities that rely on tourism, but unfortunately, mass tourism can sometimes bring negative effects. It’s unreasonable to expect local communities to maintain traditional lifestyles or disadvantageous living conditions for the benefit of tourists – everyone should have the right to improved living conditions and more comfortable lifestyles.
As members of AITO, we support its sustainable tourism ethos, recognising the social, economic and environmental responsibilities of tour operators. We aim to work within the Travellers Code of Conduct set out by Friends of Conservation to ensure our holidays give consideration to the local people and cultures that we visit. We use local guides, transport, porters and food in order to benefit the local economy without exploitation.
We’re actively committed to running our business responsibly, so, in our office, we reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible. Located in a refurbished mill, we’ve also installed a waterwheel to generate electricity from the River Lea. This was the first of its kind in Britain and gives us our own sustainable source of power, while any excess goes to the National Grid.
In the UK, through the Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust, RWH Travels’ profits are channelled back into a variety of outdoor, walking-related or environmental conservation projects. The focus of the trust’s financial support is Britain’s leading walking charity, The Ramblers, and its role in promoting the benefits and importance of walking to the British public.
The Ramblers has achieved a huge amount over many years of campaigning for walkers’ access rights. We’re proud to have stood alongside them in this work and given many millions of pounds to assist with their valuable achievements. Our current support, to the value of £300,000, is focused on the Big Pathwatch project, the UK’s biggest ever footpath survey.
The trustees are also keenly aware of the trust’s objectives to help all people gain a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside. In acknowledgement of this, the trust has recently expanded its grant allocation policy to include a small grants scheme.
Small grants made recently to support the footpath network in the UK include signage for heritage walks in the Vale of Snaith and footpath improvements along the Stour Valley Way near Gillingham, Dorset. Other grants awarded recently are funds to support a website for the Cotswold Way Association and woodland exploration weekends in Scotland.
We also offer direct financial support to walking groups through The Walking Partnership, which we created in 2011. Through this initiative, we channel funds to support the UK walking community and directly fund grassroots walking groups throughout the UK. The scheme quickly proved popular with local groups and provides a welcome income boost to support their work.
In order to aid our sustainable tourism ethos, we run a staff-managed initiative called Heart & Sole, which directly supports communities in the destinations we visit. For many years, our clients have made informal donations to places they visit with us. Now, through Heart & Sole, we hope to make more of a long-term, positive impact on these communities, particularly in less developed countries where even a small amount goes a long way. Heart & Sole offers direct financial aid and support to projects and charities in the UK and overseas. Some deal with large issues such as animal welfare, while others are smaller projects, such as providing school equipment to the communities we visit.