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Responsible Travel

Pioneers in creating a more caring Travel industry

The conversation has become global nowadays. We listen more often how Responsible Travel should be used as a tool for achieving different Sustainable Development goals in the incoming destinations. However, when Handspan was founded more than 20 years ago already, we were pioneers in seeking social, economical and environmental improvements through an innovative, transparent and evidence-based business. 

We are truly pleased that the concept of responsible travel is growing in importance to an increased number of travellers, being our guiding principle from the very beginning. This is such a high priority for Handspan that we employ staff to focus solely on these issues. The truth is that at Handspan we are all passionate advocates of responsible travel during and out of office hours, being our profession also our vocation.

When we are researching, when we work on improving our product or when we simply look around, we see too many examples of irresponsible tourism. The conventional view is that governments, NGOs or activists are the only ones supposed to be in charge of facing these issues. Are then businesses and customers just supposed to stand by and do nothing? We have always thought “Absolutely not”.

We did play, we do play and we will keep on playing our part in creating a more caring travel industry, being deeply concerned about our particular responsibility to affect change, constantly seeking to improve how we operate, so that our visitors, host communities and rest of stakeholders can benefit from our contributions as a Destination Management Organization - this should actually be the role of every single DMO.

Tourism growth in the developing world has been impressive, but this too often results in damage to ecosystems and cultures. That is why we consider Tourism a double edged sword that can have either positive or negative impacts on the destinations, depending on the different tourism practices performed. 

Since Handspan's beginnings, sustainability has been our main goal and commitment, viewing it as an opportunity to participate in the nation-building effort by being involved as an active part of our communities and destinations, giving back in good measure what is due to them. 

Sustainability is much broader than the environmental aspect, though an important part of a sustainable triple bottom line where we also take into account the potential economical and societal impacts related to our travel activities in a direct or indirect way.

We are firm believers that our business should be a force for sustainable development in Vietnam, and what is good for our communities will also be good for our visitors as well as for our own organization. That is why we work alongside local communities in rural areas to bring economic benefit, to assist them in acquiring a suitable approach towards tourism and to develop tours according to their goals and priorities. 

Our vision and hope is that responsible travelling becomes the norm. We are still a long way away from that, but as enthusiastic change-makers, our mindset is to keep on working, gradually but constantly, in supporting our stakeholders to adopt a more conscious conduct. That is also how we manage to tailor-make authentic, experimentalist, while still responsible and exciting trips to our travellers.

This commitment to corporate social responsibility relies on a management system designed to guide our internal policies and relationships along the supply chain. We are the first tour operator in Vietnam to have implemented such a system, and we are proud of this accomplishment, since for us, CSR is not about those occasional philanthropic acts that we can organize, but about the way we operate. 

We strive to set examples for those we work with, for and around, to try to ensure responsible travel. To protect the Cultural Heritage and Identity of our destinations, while facilitating an intercultural exchange. By holding onto these core values throughout the years we have managed to attract an increasing number of clients, partners, suppliers, host communities and employees who, through their respective roles, all believe in and want to take part in what we do.


Would you like to know in a deeper way how we proceed? Then just have a look at Our role as a Destination Management Organization, stay tuned to our blog & social media platforms, give us a call or send us an e-mail, we will be glad to talk to you about it!


Capacity building and community-based tourism projects

Besides striving to operate in a more sustainable business environment, we use our tours to support projects in environmentally sensitive areas and to contribute to local economic development. We feature here some of the most recent ones.

In Moc Chau we worked alongside local people in a disadvantaged mountainous area to create a new guesthouse and train locals on managing successful tourism businesses.

In Ngoc Son – Ngo Luong Nature Reserve we served the Spanish NGO FPSC in a consulting role for their project of nature conservation and livelihood improvement in the Reserve.

In Vong Vieng, a floating village of Halong Bay, we partnered with a German tour operator to replace the houses’ polluting Styrofoam floats by long-lasting and non polluting floats.

Through our educational tours, Handspan welcomes every year groups of students from international schools and colleges staying with an ethnic community in remote areas. An opportunity for young people to play with their counterparts in simple earthen playgrounds and to take social or environmental action for the community. For example, they build a schoolyard, plant trees or give a hand in restoring a classroom. This trip experience leave indelible memories in both guests’ and hosts’ minds.

The Primate Conservation Fund is an initiative Handspan took hand-in-hand with Flora and Fauna International, the world's longest running conservation organization. The money raised directly from bookings of nature-based tours help to cover the costs of paying local community rangers to patrol remote forest areas.


Awareness raising events

The annual Halong Clean Up Tour. Each summer we organize a trip to Halong Bay to remove litter and build awareness of the bay's environmental needs.

The Corporate Football Charity Cup. Organized by Handspan and joined by several other businesses. It is a friendly football competition aiming at raising funds to support street kids of Hanoi.



Handspan is the first operator in Vietnam to successfully achieve the TOURCERT CSR committed certification. Tourcert is a Germany-based organization renown across the globe for its responsible tourism certifications and we decided to adhere to their programs so that our commitment to sustainability could become more transparent both for our travelers and partners.




Handspan Award
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