Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO)
What is AITO?
The AITO Quality Charter – taken from www.aito.co.uk
AITO is the Association for independent and specialist holiday companies. Our 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 the UK Government Regulations in this respect. Members submit details of their bonding or 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 Sustainable Tourism guidelines, which recognise the social, economic and environmental responsibilities of tour operating. Those demonstrating their achievements beyond the pure acceptance of this principle are recognised by the award of 2 to 5 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.
AITO Sustainable Tourism Award
Pure Crete has been awarded the outstanding 4 star status for Sustainable Tourism. This reflects our commitment to sustainability, responsible tourism and ecotourism. In the past we have restored stone-built Cretan houses and villas and have helped to protect endangered species in Crete. This means that our clients can enjoy the rural tranquility of traditional houses safe in the knowledge that their holiday helps to conserve Cretes natural and physical environment.
Houses are owned by local famalies so that the economic benefits go to local communities who engage in restoration and environmental work. We encourage our clients in Crete to recycle and we use local products and traders to supply our welcome- packs of food and wine which we give to our guests. Pure Crete assist in subsidising the installation of solar energy in the houses we rent.
In the UK we use recycled paper and encourage staff to bring forward initiatives to promote sustainability. In Crete we help to finance the installation of solar panels in the houses we rent. We have run wild flower and walking holidays for 24 years. Our customer loyalty is linked to our environmental approach as well as the enjoyment of a holiday in Crete.
CARBON OFFSET YOUR HOLIDAY
In 2007 we introduced a carbon offset scheme. We add a 3.50 carbon offset charge per passenger, per return flight on each invoice that clients can pay or opt out of.
Since then, Pure Crete clients have raised over £3000. In the past this has been donated to the Tourism Industry Carbon. Offset Service (TICOS), which is now managed by Beyond Carbon. Beyond Carbon uses offset funds to develop projects that make both carbon savings and have wider sustainable development benefits. The offset income is generated by voluntary contributions from customers of its service users. These are travel and tourism companies committed to offsetting and improving both the quality of the environment and the quality of life for local communities at tourism destinations.
Pure Crete’s contributions have gone towards SunFire Solar Solutions Solar Stoves in South Africa. The main objective of the project is to help reduce poverty and alleviate the difficult energy situation that South Africa is currently experiencing. The project provides subsidised solar and fuel-efficient stoves to poor communities, allowing families to move away from open-fire cooking which requires enormous amounts of wood fuel and often leads to smoke-related illnesses. The project provides immediate environmental, economic, health and social benefits and is based on a business model that engages local communities and encourages grass-roots entrepreneurship.
The project focuses on communities that are currently struggling to meet their energy needs and have limited economic opportunities. Additional sustainable developments include, reduced smoke-related health problems, reduced incident of cooking related burn injuries and reduced deforestation and habitat degradation in the surrounding area. This will help safeguard regional biodiversity and reduce soil erosion and associated silting of rivers and water courses.
“This project continues to grow from strength to strength, a further 40 clean energy cooking units have been placed into households over the past few months, and Sun Fire Solutions is currently on another drive to create energy entrepreneurs near the Kruger, a highly sensitive and biologically rich part of the world. Our aim is to intensify our efforts to get as many solar cookers and complimentary clean technoligies into these homes where they are most needed””
**December 2013 update…..Thank you to Pure Crete customers who raised £563.50 this year towards the Sun Fire Project in South Africa.. a fantastic achievement and greatly appreciated by ourselves and all involved**
We hope that you will support our carbon offset charge, our ambition of carbon neutral holidays and other environmental initiatives.