Welcome to Albania !

Our idea is really quite simple: treat local people and places well, and they’ll often offer you experiences and insights into their ways of life that you wouldn’t otherwise get. You enjoy a more authentic experience and they benefit from jobs, income and ways to preserve their culture, environments and heritage. This is how we think tourism should be, and we call it Responsible Travel. Responsible Tourism is about making “better places for people to live, and better places for people to visit” – the order of these two aspirations is critical.

We provide authentic, experience-rich holidays to responsible travellers. Through our community-based eco-tourism initiatives, tourists come into direct contact with local people, in a low-volume way, based on mutual respect. They eat traditional, natural food and take part in cultural and eco-tourism activities. All the activities are eco-friendly and organised by the local communities, all guides are local and most of the products and services are organic and locally sourced. A fair trade approach is applied, in particular for agricultural products, handicrafts and souvenirs. Please be aware that we do not sell people, culture or folklore and that, unlike some big tour operators, we only promote responsible, sustainable tourism.

Travel and tourism should be planned and practiced as a means of individual and collective fulfilment. When practiced with an open mind, it is an irreplaceable factor of self education, mutual tolerance and for learning about the legitimate differences between peoples and cultures and their diversity.

Everyone has a role to play creating responsible travel and tourism. Governments, business and communities must do all they can, but as a guest you can support this in many ways to make a difference:

Open your mind to other cultures and traditions – it will transform your experience, you will earn respect and be more readily welcomed by local people. Be tolerant and respect diversity – observe social and cultural traditions and practices.

What is Responsible Tourism?
Responsible tourism to I Visit Albania means tourism that lessens its possible negative impact on ALL areas visited. I Visit Albania looks at all aspects of sustainability, economic, social and environmental policies when selecting our preferred properties, operators and transportation companies. This criteria helps us determine if specific destination promotes responsible tourism.
• Sustainability – if there any local accepted sustainability accreditation certifications, are they being supported?
• Economic – are the local community benefiting from your trip financially?
• Social – are the local community keeping their traditional culture and customs?
• Environmental – is the natural environment being degraded by your presence? Guide to being a Responsible Tourist

Before you travel:
• Save paper, IVA are able to send all correspondence by email, so if you have Internet access, use our paper-free booking service. View your correspondence on screen to avoid printing at home.
• Learn about the country you are going to, there is a wealth of information on the Internet and in travel guidebooks. Learning about the culture and customs of a country is very important - it can even affect which clothes you pack.
• Learn a few words of the local language
• If you are able, travel to the airport by public transport; it will also save on fuel and car parking.
• Lighten your luggage; weight restrictions on flights are due to the additional fuel used to carry heavier bags, so lightening your luggage reduces your carbon footprint.

On your trip:
If we wish to sustain the world's wild places, traditions and natural beauty, we must all act responsibly when travelling at home or abroad. Tourism is a very important source of income for the areas we visit but we must take steps to ensure this does not come at a high price to the communities we visit. Respect human rights. Exploitation in any form conflicts with the fundamental aims of tourism. The sexual exploitation of children is a crime punishable in the destination or at the offender’s home country. Help preserve natural environments. Protect wildlife and habitats and do not purchase products made from endangered plants or animals.
• Honouring local traditions and customs
• Research your destination to learn all that you can about local customs and traditions. It is a great way to build understanding of the local community and excitement for your adventure ahead. Respect local customs religion and traditions. Adhere to dress codes; in many countries it is etiquette to cover bare skin and remove footwear when entering sacred buildings.

Learn to speak a few words in the local language:
This can help you connect with the local community and its people in a more meaningful way. Experience and respect all that makes an international destination different and unique from its history, architecture and religion to its music, art and cuisine.
• Don't give out sweets, pens or money, especially to children, as it encourages begging. It is far better to offer useful donations (Pens, paper, equipment etc) directly to schools or community projects.
• Avoid buying bottled water if you have been provided with a safe alternative.
• Buy local products, avoid imported / branded food.
• Keep erosion to a minimum, keep to footpaths and avoid stepping on native flora.
• Minimise pollution, and carry out all litter
• Use water sparingly; in many countries water is a precious and expensive commodity.
• If you fancy swimming in rivers, consider that the river water could also be drinking water, do not contaminate water supplies by washing in it. Any washing products should be phosphate free.
• Buy locally produced souvenirs; your money will then go directly to the craftsperson, and directly benefit the community.

Supporting the local economy
• Make sure your souvenirs are sustainable; some countries still sell ancient artefacts and products made from endangered species and hardwoods Buy locally-made handicrafts and products. Respect local vendors and artisans by practising fair trade. Do not buy counterfeit products and items that are prohibited by national/international regulations.
• Try and give something back. Whether it is a pair of old walking boots you give a porter, a donation to charity or offsetting your carbon, every generous gift can help preserve the natural wonder that is our world. Your trip can contribute to economic and social development. Purchase local handicrafts and products to support the local economy using the principles of fair trade. Bargaining for goods should reflect an understanding of a fair wage.

Respecting the environment
Reduce your environmental impact by being a good steward of natural resources and archaeological treasures. Protect wildlife and their natural habitats. Purchase products that are not made using endangered plants or animals. Take photos instead of protected artefacts as mementos of your trip. Leave only your footprint and a good impression behind.

Being an informed and respectful traveler
Observe national laws and regulations. Respect human rights. Protect children from exploitation in travel and tourism. Take appropriate health precautions. Know how to access medical care or contact your embassy in case of an emergency Inform yourself about the destination’s current health situation and access to emergency and consular services prior to departure and be assured that your health and personal security will not be compromised. Make sure that your specific requirements (diet, accessibility, medical care) can be fulfilled before you decide to travel to this destination.

Learn as much as possible about your destination and take time to understand the customs, norms and traditions. Avoid behaviour that could offend the local population.
Familiarize yourself with the laws so that you do not commit any act considered criminal by the law of the country visited. Refrain from all trafficking in illicit drugs, arms, antiques, protected species and products or substances that are dangerous or prohibited by national regulations.

Respect cultural resources. Activities should be conducted with respect for the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage. I Visit Albania is committed to a company-wide socially responsible policy addressing pressing environmental, educational and public health needs in all the regions where we operate. Our focus is on initiatives that offer the opportunity for our clients to become personally involved.

Learn - We believe passionately in adventures that both respect the natural environment and benefit peoples. We are fully committed to corporate social responsibility in our every-day operations and in our travel experiences.

Travel - We offer a delightful combination of luxury travel experiences creatively combined with responsible travel practices. Our experiences include luxury vacations, culinary tours, cultural tours, family vacations, luxury guided tours, shopping tours, romantic vacations, responsible travel programs.

Give - We offer a variety of programs and services that are designed specifically for our travelers that want to give back to the destinations they visit. We invite you to lend a hand by support responsible travel. We have partnered with several local non-profit organizations and count on the support of responsible travelers and businesses alike.

Our Goal - With our commitment to the communities and environments in which we visit, we seek to preserve the regions’ timeless traditions, cultural heritage, and fragile habitats. This is evident throughout our vacation experiences, and paves the way for unforgettable travel experiences. The vast majority of our luxury vacations are led by local guides using local suppliers for transportation, accommodation in environmentally-friendly hotels and local activities. We also contribute to local charities.

Real encounters with nature, people, culture and cuisine in Albania. Our extensive knowledge of Albania and its neighboring countries enables us to offer authentic itineraries, at the same time providing a balance between the countries´ well-known 'must-sees' and ‘off-the-beaten-track’ attractions. I Visit Albania provides a real insight into the countries you are visiting - culture, history, landscapes and nature - and provides the opportunity for genuine interaction with the locals. Respect for local people, their culture, traditions, religions and environment are essential to our philosophy, and we work hard to ensure that our guests have a positive impact on the places and people visited.

How we operate:

Guided trips
Please note that all group sizes for most of our guided tours are between 1 and maximum of 15 persons.

Self guided trips
For our self guided tours we provide a detailed itinerary, maps, pre-booking of accommodation and restaurants, pre-announcement of visits at less frequented hidden gems. Accommodation We include home-stays in some of our itineraries, depending on the target groups.

The local cuisine is an integral part of real understanding and enjoyment of a region or a country in the Western Balkans.

Local products
By facilitating usage of products and services of local origin, I Visit Albania ensures the local producers to see how valuable their products are, in terms of keeping the traditions alive, which on one side ensures a maintained landscape, and on the other side forms solid basis for sustainable tourism development in Albania.

Marketing materials
We don’t use printed promotion materials. The promotion of the company is done through our website and different social media and travel platforms. The design works for our website is done in-house.

As much as we demand from our affiliated properties and operators, we begin by asking that of ourselves by engaging in progressive environmentally conscious initiatives in our home offices that include an office environment with a conscientious recycling program, solar energy use, Bike Share and Carpool programs, energy efficient lighting, a waste-reduction policy by eliminating plastic or paper cups facilitated by having water filtrating systems through-out, among many other efforts. We do an effort to lead by example.

Our goal is to promote responsible travel and ecotourism, help support sustainable development, educate our travelers and help protect the cultures and environments they visit.

Supporting and involving local people
• We recruit and involve local people wherever possible.
• We support and prefer to work directly with local businesses, services and individuals.
• Our supplies and equipment are purchased locally wherever possible.
• We aim to work and treat the traveller, local communities and businesses in a fair and just manner.
• We aim to work with partners who operate their own local initiatives.
• Small, family-run establishments make up a high percentage of the accommodation we use.
• Where it is practical but not intrusive we stay as guests of local families. “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open” The advice is based on the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism of the World Tourism Organization.

The IVA Mountain Code
• PROTECT the environment - its flora, fauna and landscapes RESPECT local cultures - traditions, religions and built heritage BENEFIT local communities - both economically and socially CONSERVE natural resources - from office to destination MINIMISE pollution - through noise, waste disposal and congestion
• It is also important to us that our clients are not the only beneficiaries of the travel experience, but that we share a two-way relationship with the areas that we visit. Our association with the Juniper Trust is a big part of this - allowing us to make a positive contribution in many parts of the world.8:14 PM 10/26/2015.
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