Travel & Tourism Awards 2021

Page 18 LUX 2021 Travel & Tourism Awards Trunk is one of the leading inbound tour operators in Southeast Asia with over 12 years of award-winning experience. The team is made up of travellers from around the world who are passionate about travel, about Southeast Asia, about the welfare of Thailand’s elephant population and about delivering a truly unforgettable experience for travellers. “At our core is a passion to work tirelessly to create ethical, cultural and responsible trips and off-the-beaten-track experiences that positively benefit the communities we visit, the people we come in to contact with, the elephants we love and in a way that is sustainable, honest and true,” explains Founder, Steve Williams, who created the company following his own backpacking experiences. “By having a back-room team who firmly believe in these ethics, we know that what we deliver works for our clients and everybody that we come in to contact with on these trips.” Essentially, Trunk operates in two areas: business-to-business and business-to-consumer. As a business-to-business operator, the firm invites travel companies who may be searching for new ground handlers in Southeast Asia to contact them for more details. Trunk operates the ground services with its licensed and experienced guides under the branding of its partners and has, effectively, become an extension of its partners, fully understanding the importance of delivering an unrivalled service that matches their quality and expectations. The business-to-consumer element welcomes travellers to book one of Trunk’s tours directly. The customer immediately becomes a friend and receives a 5-star service from the moment they arrive in the airport until they day they say goodbye. Award-winning ethical tour operator, Trunk, is passionate about supporting the local communities of Thailand as well as its endangered elephant population. We speak to Founder, Steve Williams, about the tourism industry in Southeast Asia. Dec20284 Trunk Travel Best Ethical & Cultural DMC - South East Asia “Whichever service we are operating, the travellers that arrive in Thailand will either directly or indirectly be supporting the welfare and the health of Thailand’s captive elephants,” Steve highlights. “Many of our tours have a direct involvement with these elephants, however, we insist that these involvements are ethical and humane. We will only support camps and sanctuaries who agree to meet our strict guidelines, and would like our help in ensuring that what they are doing is for the benefit for the elephants first.” Steve and the Trunk team’s expertise in this field has been developed over the last 12 years and because of the stellar reputation it has built over that period, it is often contacted for advice and assistance from international organisations and local services. The team at Trunk is a reflection of everything that the company embodies. Each member exudes a passion for travel, local culture, supporting local communities and for the welfare of Thailand’s elephant population. It is important to Steve that any new recruits have the same ideals and show their passion in abundance. Since the pandemic broke in 2020 and international borders were closed, it has presented opportunity for Trunk to move forwards in other areas. These included creating and delivering unique domestic trips for Thai people wanting to travel deeper in to the culture of their country. “This was very exciting for our team as we all managed to visit some fascinating locations and meet incredible people whom, had we not met with them face to face, we would never have known their stories and we would not have been able to take our travellers on these fantastic voyages of discovery.” In addition, one of Trunk’s biggest concerns about how the pandemic was affecting tourism was that of how the elephants in their camps and sanctuaries will be cared for. Sadly, many camps had to close and send their elephants back to the domestic homes and farms from where they were rented. Many had to be led for days on journeys of over 600kms - some never made it home suffering exhaustion and dehydration. Steve continues: “We focused a lot of our efforts on raising funds to support the elephants, their mahouts and the communities that rely on the income from tourism to exist. Since April 2020 we raised almost $20,000 that was distributed directly to these camps and communities.” As Thailand slowly and carefully begins to allow visitors back to Thailand, Trunk is offering advice and support with navigating the incredibly confusing visa application service. The firm has also taken on a large number of students of tourism looking for help in order to offer them real experience of how life operates in the industry. Throughout 2021, Trunk will continue to look for new ways it can support the Thai tourism industry, improve its tours, find new partners and work to shape Thailand’s tourism industry to be more ethical, more responsible and one that can be a shining light in global tourism. “We are genuinely excited about the future of the tourism industry. It’s truly uncharted waters for every company so those with an ethical mindset and transparent policies will be those reshaping it from the front.” Company: Trunk Travel Contact: Steve Williams Website: