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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Saigontourist and its greening footsteps

The Saigon Times

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For Saigontourist Travel Service Company, its environmental catchphrase of “take nothing but the photos, leave nothing but the footprints” may soon become insufficient. The country’s biggest tour operator has just launched an ambitious program to enrich nature and safeguard the environment so that everywhere its tourists arrives, the footprints left behind will be compensated for by greener spaces.

Millions more trees for the environment

In May this year, the company just kick-started a greening program, under which for every tourist it serves until the end of 2024, a tree will be planted. Accordingly, whenever tourists buy a travel product, the company will add a tree to its “Green Living – Green Travel” program.

This program, when fully implemented, would greatly benefit the environment, given the huge number of tourists the company serves each year. In 2023, Saigontourist Travel Service Company reported serving roughly 1.7 million tourists, and if this number stays, over one million trees will be planted under the program.

A representative of the company said tree-planting programs will take place in 18 provinces and cities where it operates branches or offices. “Each of our actions today will have impacts on the future generation, and therefore, with the company’s “Green Living – Green Travel” program, each tour should not only bring about new experiences, but also a significant footstep towards a sustainable future,” said the representative.

Saigontourist Group staff members show great enthusiasm in participating in the tree planting initiative

Greening the environment, in fact, has been a long-established sustainability practice at Saigontourist Travel Service Company. In March and April this year, hundreds of the company’s workers participated in several tree-planting programs in Can Gio District in HCMC; Lac Duong District in Lam Dong; the former revolutionary base K20 in Danang; and at Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh Province. Such initiatives show the company’s pioneering spirit to promote green tourism meeting Travelife sustainability criteria put forth by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). Alongside such tree-planting activities, the company also offered cash donations to local forest rangers to acquire equipment for waste collection.

Green products

Greenization has been an underlying strategy of Saigontourist Travel Service Company over the years, and this has been a key constituent in its tourism products.

Since the year 2000, the company has integrated the green factor in its tourism products in all segments, from domestic travel to inbound and outbound tourism, as part of the company’s commitment to environmental protection in doing business. Specifically, the company has launched tour products that combine travel with tree planting, and trash collection along coastal areas. While going places, tourists also contribute to “Green Living – Green Travel” efforts waged by the company.

The company admitted that green traveling is being more sought after by tourists as they are now more aware of sustainable tourism and environmental protection. “Tourists not only demand professional tourism products and services, but also require that such tourism products must show the responsibility towards the community and the environment,” said the representative.

Therefore, since 2022, many partners, local and international alike, have collaborated with the company in organizing tours combined with waste collection and treatment to clean up beaches and tree planting to rejuvenate barren areas. “Our partners are also willing to sign agreements to alleviate negative impacts on the environment and improve the air and water quality to benefit the community and nature where tourism activities are organized,” said the representative.

Other community activities

Apart from initiatives to protect the environment, Saigontourist Travel Service Company also considers supporting the community as an essential part in its sustainability endeavor. A key community activity is the company’s golf tournament titled “Saigontourist Group for the Community” that is organized annually by the parent firm Saigontourist Group.

In late August 2023, Saigontourist Group donated 500 scholarships worth VND1 million each to outstanding students from difficult family backgrounds in Ben Tre and Tay Ninh provinces. The scholarship award event was jointly organized by Saigontourist and the HCMC Sponsoring Association for Poor Patients, using the proceeds from the annual charity golf tournament that took place in July.

Since the first edition launched in 2006, the golf tournament has collected tens of billions of Vietnamese dong to fund community projects, especially education support. Financial support from the gold tournament has also been extended to orphanages in HCMC and other provinces, poverty-stricken ethnic minority communities in remote areas, construction of houses for the poor, and healthcare for the underprivileged among others. In a typical community program, Saigontourist has contributed VND10 billion for rural development in remote communes in Can Gio District in 2017-2020.

Like green tourism programs that call for the participation of tourists to protect the environment, other community activities of Saigontourist, especially the annual golf tournament, have also been successful in attracting the participation of patrons to join forces for the good of the societty. In the latest golf tournament, apart from the active participation of golfers, several corporate partners also generously contributed to the event, including an auto brand that offered two high-class autos as special prizes for the tournament.

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