08 Dec 2013 Travelers Changing the World: Redistributing Wealth and Finding Peace
If the company you travel with changed its philosophy and the way it does business, and improved the way the money was distributed from your vacation, you could fight inequality just by going on vacation. I am also a firm believer that there is no faster path to peace than people getting to know one another. From Looptail by Bruce Poon Tip
After reading Looptail, I immediately wrote to G Adventures on Facebook and said, “If I had not left my job 17 months ago to wander the world full-time, I would quit today and come work for your company.” I have worked in travel since 1996 and I am so impressed with the passion, dedication and purpose of Poon Tip and his companies, G Adventures and Planeterra. I agree with his subtitle “ ,” and look forward to sharing a bit of his story with you.
At G Adventure, their goal is “giving the best customer service and changing people’s lives,” both those who go on their trips and the local people they work with around the world. “According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), out of every hundred dollars spent on vacation by a tourist from a developed country, only five dollars stays in the destination’s economy.” Poon Tip set out to change that dynamic and did it with passion and purpose.
He is a responsible and accountable leader who has recreated himself and his company several times to match his vision. From learning to sell miniature rabbits and newspapers as a child, to being a gigantic travel brand, he uses his natural curiosity to explore the world, reimagine group travel and expand his ability to change lives through his innovative projects.
G Adventures draws customers from over 160 countries and develops “community tourism,” building adventures around terrific tours that generate local benefits for local people. While I had heard of G Adventures, I thought they ran inexpensive group tours for young people. I learned they have eight styles ranging from a seven-day $500 dollar Amazonian home stay to high-end small-ship cruises in Antarctica. I would never have guessed that they have “fifteen thousand departures to more than one hundred countries every year” while “lifting an increasing number of people out of poverty.”
His company is a “social enterprise–a for-profit company that uses business skills to solve social issues like environmental sustainability and economic inequality.” He is changing the world by how he chooses to do business. There often seems to be a tension between for profit companies and non-profit companies as if making money is evil and it is not possible to make money in a way that does save the world. How we each spend our tourism dollars is a vote or a choice.
“According to the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization), in 2012 the world surpassed 1 billion tourists for the first time.” Staying local while traveling or using a company that makes certain the money helps families in the country is crucial to empowering communities and alleviating poverty. Poon Tip proposes that tourism could “be the greatest form of wealth redistribution that the world has ever seen” depending on how we use our travel dollars. “In the next ten years tourism will generate $10 trillion,” what “if the company you travel with changed its philosophy and the way it does business, and improved the way the money was distributed from your vacation, you could fight inequality just by going on vacation.”
George and I generally travel independently and often think carefully about where to spend our money while in a town. We prefer to stay with a hotel run by a local family rather than at a chain or a place that is foreign owned. In Lipah Beach, Bali, Wayan told us how she was glad more tourists were coming to her village. Now they have electricity and since opening her own restaurant, she has enough money to feed her family.
Poon Tip concludes that “travel done the right way can be a vehicle to create peace through understanding and appreciation of our other cultures while making the world a little more perfect…Travel also gives us an appreciation or awareness of ourselves, which goes hand in hand with being able to appreciate others. How can we ever understand what we are and where we belong in the universe if we haven’t experienced anything outside of our own nation, culture, or history?”
Ready to take your next adventure, participate in alleviating poverty and create peace? I look forward to seeing you in Asia and highly recommend Looptail for changing your own business and the planet! Participate with Planeterra!