|Colin Murison Small's|
Responsible Tourism & the Environment
Hidden Greece is too small to brow-beat the government or hotel companies into behaving responsibly, but we believe we have been right (and pragmatic!) to choose traditional small-scale accommodation which has been modernised (inside!) over the years or has perhaps been newly built but in strictly traditional style which does not create some new concrete blot on the horizon.
That does not stop us encouraging our clients to join an increasing number of travel companies – including, for the first time and, to their great credit, many of the mass market boys – in supporting The Travel Foundation whose exciting activities to encourage responsible behaviour by indigenous populations (and by the visiting hordes) are gaining momentum and can be followed on their website www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk, which we encourage you to visit. Like the big boys, we add a suggested donation (a mere 50p per person) to your invoice, but you may delete it if you wish.
On a similar tack and as part and parcel of the future of the planet, carbon emissions are seldom out of the news. We are acutely aware that the flights our customers take damage the environment and we have therefore teamed up with the scheme below operated by Carbon Offsets Limited. Offsetting is as straightforward as our 50p TF contribution though inevitably costing a bit more: on your holiday invoice you will see that we have added around £3 per person, which represents the average cost of offsetting your flights’ carbon emissions to Greece (the exact amount varies slightly with the route). This too is optional: just deduct this amount from your final balance if you decline to participate.
For further information please visit the website www.carbonoffsets.org/
AITO membership today means even more than it ever did. After changes in the law affecting the need for ATOL licensing from the Civil Aviation Authority, many ABTA members are no longer bonded in the same strict way as before. Furthermore, airlines (and, especially to be mentioned, no-frills airlines) are not bonded and you may not get your money back in the event of a financial failure. You should in particular beware of flight/ accommodation/ car-hire etc packages appearing to be (or masquerading as) protected package holidays when in fact they may not be.
Only with an AITO company is your money totally safe. Hidden Greece acts as principal, not agent, for all its holidays.
AITO Quality Charter
AITO is the association for independent and specialist holiday companies. Member companies, usually owner-managed, strive to create overseas holidays with high levels of professionalism and a shared concern for quality and personal service. The Association encourages the highest standards in all aspects of tour operating.
AITO sets criteria regarding ownership, finance and quality which must be satisfied before new companies are admitted to membership. All members are required to adhere to a Code of Business Practice which encourages high operational standards and conduct.
An AITO member is required to protect money paid by customers to the member for any holiday sold under the AITO logo. This protection applies to customers who are in the UK at the time of booking or to overseas customers who have booked directly with the member. Members have to comply with UK Government Regulations in this respect. Members submit details of their bonding and guarantee arrangements to the Association on a regular basis.
Accurate Brochures and Web Sites
All members do their utmost to ensure that all their brochures and other publications, print or electronic, clearly and accurately describe the holidays and services offered.
Professional Service and Continual Improvements
All members are committed to high standards of service and believe in regular and thorough training of employees. Members continually seek to review and improve their holidays. They listen to their customers and always welcome suggestions for improving standards.
AITO endeavours to monitor quality standards regularly. All customers should receive a post-holiday questionnaire the results of which are scrutinised by the Association.
All members acknowledge the importance of AITO’s Responsible Tourism guidelines, which recognise the social, economic and environmental responsibilities of tour operating. Those who demonstrate achievements beyond the mere acceptance of this principle are recognised by the award of 2 or 3 star status.
All members endeavour to deal swiftly and fairly with any issues their customers may raise. In the unlikely event that a dispute between an AITO member and a customer cannot be settled amicably, AITO’s low-cost Independent Dispute Settlement Service may be called upon by either side to bring the matter to a speedy and acceptable conclusion.
Sunvil (t/a Hidden Greece/Simply Simon Holidays) is a member of AITO; to contact the Association visit www.aito.co.uk or call 020 8744 9280.