Q. What is Tibet Travel Co-op? A: We are Tibetan travel agencies and guides working together to promote authentic travel experiences while contributing to the sustainability of host communities and their culture
Q. Where are you based? A: All of our co-op members located across the Tibetan Plateau including Central Tibet (TAR), Kham (Sichuan and Yunnan) and Amdo (Qinghai and Gansu) where guests travel. Our marketing and sales office is located in the United States.
Q. How does it work? A: Once we receive an inquiry from you, (1) we normally arrange a phone or Skype call to better understand your interest and need. For most people, traveling to Tibet is once a lifetime opportunity and we take it seriously. (2) Based on our conversation, we prepare a customized itinerary and submit that to several co-op members who specialize in the area that you wish to visit. (3) After making all the necessary arrangements, we offer you the most suitable member for your consideration.
Q. How do you arrange travel permits? A: Once we finalize your trip, co-op members work with local authorities such as Tibet Tourism Bureau to obtain your travel permits. If you are not traveling to the Tibet Autonomous Region, your Chinese visa is all you need for the most Tibetan regions. If certain regions are closed to travelers due to political unrest, for example, your guide will either obtain all necessary permissions or help you make alternative travel plans.
Q. How do you maintain the quality of the trips? A: Unlike most travel agencies, our co-op was started with the goal of improving the quality of your experiences and the Tibetan travel industry. Thus, our members have strict criteria to follow and you are asked to evaluate the experience at end of the trip. If our members fail to meet the criteria after all necessary trainings and receive bad reviews, they don’t get any business from us. It's that simple!
Q. What is real value of traveling with coop members? A: The best guides, drivers and cooks are busy leading trips in remote areas and they often don’t have internet access to response inquiries from clients. Thus, they lose business to non-Tibetan companies that do nothing but sell web-based cheap trips and force travelers to go on tourist shopping trips for kickbacks. They make money from you and from shop owners. Tibet Travel Co-op essentially helps ensure good communication between you and locals; making sure guides have done a good job through service quality assurance; providing training / mentorship to improve guide skills and giving 10% of the profit back to local communities.
Q. Why don’t you list all your members on website? A: We don’t list co-op members on the website as of now in order to avoid favoritism, and some prefer not to exposed in the current politically-charged environment. However, we are working to come up with a good system of promoting Tibetan owned and operated businesses such as guest houses, gift shops and unique destinations on the co-op website.