Here at The Viñales Experience we take our values seriously. When we started four years ago, with no idea where it would all end up, we were clear on one thing: we would support the Cuban people and the Cuban island in the best way we know how. To this day, we continue doing so, and have learned a lot along the way.
The most significant journey that our founder, Cassie, is on is that of sustainable and eco-tourism. Both of these terms are casually thrown around within the tourism industry, and often aren’t delved into deeply to understand what they actually mean. I know this because I threw the term around, too.
With the rise of social media and the travel industry eager to stay on trend and grapple as many travellers across multiple generations as possible, the ecotourism or adventure tourism title is used as a marketing tactic. Often the people who write said tactic don’t know a thing about what it means to travel sustainably.
I’ve been doing my homework, and am on a long path to finishing, but have the ultimate goal to fully embrace and implement the ethos of ecotourism within our family business.
Here’s what we’ve done so far:
- increased the basic wage of our tour guides by 50% of the standard rate local rate
- increased the rate of our taxi drivers by 10%
- take no commission from guides/restaurants/taxi bookings to ensure the locals receive their deserved income
- supported our team and their families throughout covid-19 with monthly remittances
Here’s what we plan to do going forward:
- for every group of travellers we pledge to plant one new tree in our finca.
- when we have our casa particular ready to receive visitors, we invite you to plant your own to leave your mark in Cuba and to feel the immediate gratitude of offsetting some of your footprint personally
- diversify our employees in terms of: age, race, gender and background