Small World Journeys is Queensland’s only tour operator dedicated solely to educational student tours. Multi-award winning as tour operators, they are also known for their substantial sustainability credentials.
Their motto is to leave the community better because they exist, not despite it.
This means educating their guests, contributing to the community, offsetting their environmental impact, and leaving the environment a bit better.
Their educational adventure trips are soaked in learning opportunities! Participants on excursions receive at least one field guide (Sydney city trips excepted) who teaches them about local flora or fauna. For domestic school groups, they have designed lesson plans to sync with the national curriculum so the trip is an extension of what students are learning in the classroom.
Ten environmentally-friendly initiatives that Small World Journeys are proud of:
1. They Use Renewable Energy
Their Cairns office is completely solar powered! By using renewable energy, they are helping to reduce reliance on fossil fuels as well as their carbon footprint. They are also the first tour operator in Queensland to earn an EcoBiz energy star partnership with Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ).
2. Voluntary Carbon Offsetting
Small World Journeys pays to offset the carbon emissions that result from their operations, and have done so since the inception of the company. Through Australia-based company Carbon Neutral, our emissions are calculated and offset by our financial support of sustainability projects in Australia. Additionally, they give tour groups the opportunity to offset their air travel and other emissions.
In 2018 they offset 76.72 mega tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2)!
3. Including Aboriginal Perspectives on Every Tour
Essential to their journeys is the perspective of Australia’s Indigenous people. Their policy is to offer at least one experience with Aboriginal people on every set tour. Students learn about the traditions of the Kuku Yalanji, Tjapukai, Yidinji, Ngadjon jii and Jirrbal people through local Aboriginal guides. On educational excursions, students can learn basics of Jirrbal language, hear about traditional protected area management from a Yirrganydji ranger, create art and dance with Tjapukai people, learn how to use a spear and hunt for food with Kuku Yalanji guides, and learn from a Yirrganydji elder about early life in Cairns. They also encourage our guests to purchase locally-made Indigenous crafts and art as souvenirs as well.
4. Helping Save The Reef
The Great Barrier Reef was majorly affected by the global bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, and climate change continues to be the reef’s biggest threat. Small World Journeys has sponsored a coral “tree” at the reef in partnership with Reef Restoration Foundation. The tree is part of a program that involves scientists and researchers finding resilient corals, attaching them to giant structures called “trees” and growing them bigger. The corals are then re-planted on the reef. This is a one-of-a-kind unprecedented project at the Great Barrier Reef and we are thrilled to be a part of it. Students on our tours can also learn from this teaching tool at the reef, which we feel is a symbol of hope for the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
5. Re-Planting the Rainforest
They have partnered with Rainforest Rescue to adopt a 5 square metre plot of Daintree Rainforest in their guests’ names. This helps to preserve areas of the rainforest that have been damaged. Since 2008 they have have protected more than 500 square metres of rainforest! Each group receives a certificate to take home, which explains why it is such a special gift to the rainforest. On educational excursions, students even have the opportunity to plant native trees in riparian zones.
6. Keeping Distances Short & Using Expert Guides
A Small World Journey is about getting to know a place intimately. This is why they don’t spend hours on a bus. They make time to dig deep into a destination, and spend as much time outdoors as possible. This also means minimising the need for fuel and contributing to a healthier planet. And their guides aren’t just “bus drivers”: they have a strong background in the natural sciences, and stay up-to-date on current environmental and cultural issues, helping guests to more deeply understand their destination. They teach not only about local flora, fauna and natural history, but about the subtleties of culture, etiquette, and language in Australia.
6. Keeping the Tourist Dollar Local
They use locally-owned accommodation whenever possible along with restaurants, suppliers and local guides to keep income in the community. They also buy produce from local farmers. This support is crucial to keeping the tourist dollar circulating in locally, which benefits the community as a whole. They also give guests a list of where to buy locally-made souvenirs on their trip.
8. 5% of Profits Go To Community & Environmental Groups
They have committed at least 5% of their net profits each year to support non-profit environmental and community organisations. They supply guests with detailed information about the non-profit organisations they give to, so guests may also offer their support if they choose. Every year they make financial donations to organisations like Rainforest Rescue to help save the Daintree Rainforest, Kuranda Envirocare to help protect a riparian zone that hosts 2 endangered species, to The Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre and to Rosies Friends on the Street to help Cairns’ homeless and needy people. In addition, they volunteer for and give to Oz Harvest, a charity helping reduce food waste and re-allocate potentially wasted food to folks who need it.
9. Reducing and Recycling Absolutely Everything
They really do their best to spread the message of reducing consumption. In addition, they look for innovative ways to reuse and recycle – like sending away all their groups’ used snack wrappers to a factory that breaks down the plastic and makes them into other things! They even wipe their bums with toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap (they give 50% of profits to build toilets in developing countries!).
Students on their educational tours receive a cloth shopping bag and a reusable water bottle. This gives them the opportunity to decline a plastic bag at the souvenir shop – which helps keep plastic bags from ending up in landfills, our oceans, and in the tummies of turtles. Similarly, having your own water bottle avoids purchasing plastic bottles that crowd landfills each year. Because of this practice, they estimate that since 2010 they have saved over 10,000 plastic water bottles and 5,000 plastic bags from going into landfills.
10. They Compensate Staff for Volunteering
Small World Journeys gives all employees time each week to volunteer for the local charity organisation of their choice during work hours. This has the natural outcome of involving the team in making a difference in Cairns, and allowing them to feel good about contributing. They believe happy staff equals happy customers! For instance, Rachael MacLeod, part of the Small World team and awarded 2019 Volunteer of the Year by the Cairns Business Women’s Club, volunteers regularly for the Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehab Centre.