Crystal Browne

CFLI SOUTH AFRICA & GOOD WORK FOUNDATION

By Evie Ndhlovu, Program Manager Europe, Middle East, Africa

In late 2019, I set out on my very first research trip for a new Planeterra partner in Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa. It had only taken a few months to narrow down leads, through phone calls and favours from old friends, but one name stood out, the Good Work Foundation (GWF), a campus where youth were receiving digital skills and more recently Tourism and Hospitality training. Once there, I got to experience first hand the drive, the organization, and the excitement that filled the Hazyview campus. The training that was offered was done so for free, to young people whose villages surrounded the famed Kruger National Park. In their villages, young people did not have many opportunities, and the easiest way to succeed to them was leaving the villages for the big cities, menial occupations in the richer surrounding neighbourhoods, or a life of crime.

The Good Work Foundation was working to change this, by offering 25 opportunities for training in tourism and hospitality every year. This meant that 25 young people would receive the knowledge needed for them to find occupations in the lodges located in KNP and also entry level positions in these lodges after they completed their training. Out of hundreds of applicants, only 25 could receive this life-changing education, and this was not enough. It was not until Mr T, a former student and now facilitator at GWF, offered me a cup of coffee, that a light bulb lit up in my head. Coffee! What if a cup of coffee could bring more opportunities to youth and women in the villages around the Kruger? Coffee was going to be the link that would bring together two organizations to use tourism to increase impact in the villages around the KNP. 

 

CREATING A TOURISM EXPERIENCE

The Good Work Foundation’s main campus is located in Hazyview, right on the road leading to the popular Phabeni and Paul Kruger entrance gates of KNP. It’s a location where hundreds of travellers pass by daily headed into the famous park to sightsee and game view. And through a partnership with Planeterra, an express breakfast service could be developed to offer travellers a hot, or cold beverage on their way into the park. The ripple effects of this express service would be endless. The income could be used to grow class sizes and include more local youth to receive the tourism and hospitality training. The breakfast service could generate income that could be used as stipends to the students who are often breadwinners in their homes. It could also be an opportunity for employment to the alumni of the academy who chose to stay. Moreover, this could be a practical training center for the students where they receive hands-on experience in the tourism industry. With all set in place, the pandemic came and without travel, the idea of the breakfast service was put on the back burner, until the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) opportunity of 2021 came be.

The CFLI is a prestigious Canadian funding opportunity that sees many organiZations yearly seeking to achieve key projects in their missions. When the call for South Africa proposals came in June of 2021, our first thought was our partners in Kruger. With a tough year behind us due to COVID-19, we asked GWF if this opportunity would be one to jointly pursue, and without hesitation, they got up and got to work on a proposal. 

In order to continue and expand their mission without large donor dependency, GWF was ready to pick up the conversation on the breakfast service. This service was to be managed and beneficial to their Tourism and Hospitality Academy, as it would provide hands on training and a stipend to the students, allow GWF to grow their class sizes without donor dependency and finally bring to the tourism industry of the Kruger, a fresh innovative service with purpose. And just like that, the proposal was deemed successful and we got right to work. 

Read more

International non-profit Planeterra expands Board of Directors

“This expanded board of directors reflects an exciting new era, as well as Planeterra’s ambitious goals to see more travellers, travel companies, and destinations prioritising community tourism..."

Non-profit organisation Planeterra has appointed five women as members of its international board of directors.

They were chosen for their commitment to community tourism and experience in the fields of international development, conservation, and tourism.

Planterra said they also reflect the organisation’s commitment to “embracing and amplifying diverse voices, including those of women and indigenous people”.

The new board members are Gloria Fluxà Thienemann, vice-chair and chief sustainability officer of Iberostar Hotels & Resorts; Deirdre Shurland, a policy consultant with many years of experience with various United Nations bodies; Karen Ziffer, chief development officer at the non-profit RARE; Seleni Matus, executive director of the International Institute of Tourism Studies at George Washington University; and Meenu Vadera, founder of Azad Foundation, based in India, and representing Planeterra’s Women With Wheels partnership.

Jamie Sweeting, Planeterra president, said: “Planeterra’s work has grown exponentially over the last 20 months, to the point where we are working with a diverse portfolio of corporate partners and destinations, and have expanded our work to impact more than 800 community tourism enterprises through the Global Community Tourism Network.

“This expanded board of directors reflects an exciting new era, as well as Planeterra’s ambitious goals to see more travellers, travel companies, and destinations prioritising community tourism

“We consciously prioritised the appointment of female directors for this expanded board, for a number of reasons – not least of all because Planeterra aims to improve the lives of more than two million women by 2030, and we want our board of directors to understand and amplify our vision for women’s empowerment worldwide.”

The new appointments join current members: Zeina Gedeon, Jody Hamade, Jamie Sweeting, and Roula Poon Tip, plus board chair and Planeterra founder, Bruce Poon Tip, who is also the founder of G Adventures.

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. Planeterra is an independent, non-profit organization and registered U.S. charity using community tourism to tackle poverty. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org and follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. 

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace

Senior Manager – Development & Communications 

Read more

The 2020 Impact Report is Here

THE YEAR TRAVEL WAS PAUSED

We are honoured to share Planeterra’s 2020 Impact Report. This report is filled with challenges, triumphs and stories of impact. Despite worldwide lockdowns, Planeterra, our supporters and communities were able to turn travel into impact from home.

Dear friends and supporters,

Planeterra started 2020 on a high, having set our sights on making a bigger impact with the successful launch of Project 100 and poised to be positively impacting at least 100 communities by year’s end. In January and February our team was travelling across the globe visiting community tourism enterprises in the USA, Egypt, South Africa, Argentina, Thailand, and Italy. However, other partners in places like Italy and China soon had to close their doors due to government-issued stay-at-home orders, with the spread of COVID-19 monopolizing news coverage worldwide.  

Then, the COVID-19 global pandemic was declared and within days, we were grounded in our homes under various degrees of lockdown, and our work to forge new partnerships ground to a halt. We immediately pivoted to supporting our 85 partners now facing an undetermined amount of time without an income. We deployed a needs assessment survey, and began fundraising to support emergency relief grants for the communities we work alongside. Our dedicated field team took calls with communities unsure what the pandemic meant, sent World Health Organization guidelines to keep people safe, and acted as a shoulder to lean on for countless individuals and their enterprises. Based in seven regions around the world, we became a dedicated network for sustained support and mentorship in the early days – but this would grow to mean so much more in the coming months.

We were overwhelmed by the immediate, sustained, and generous support for our Turn Travel Into Impact from Home campaign, which raised over $100,000 CAD between April and July. You helped us provide funds for medicine, food parcels, community gardens, greenhouses and other income-generating initiatives to 30 communities in 25 countries.  

The virtual support of our partners proved equally as important this year, as we channelled our efforts into publishing the Planeterra Learning Hub, an online site exclusively for our partners featuring over 50 training modules, worksheets and instructional videos in both Spanish and English. Our team planned training that partners had identified in our needs assessment survey including marketing, income diversification, and business planning. We began conducting monthly training sessions, fostering peer-to-peer learning amongst our partner communities and supporting them through strengthening their enterprises for a more sustainable future. Many focussed successfully on domestic markets, sold handmade face masks online, conducted virtual events, fundraised from their supporters, and returned to subsistence farming and other revenue sources while they awaited the return of travel. 

We watched the tourism industry struggle to survive for the majority of the year, from our community tourism partners to our travel industry allies. Many of our supporters, colleagues, and friends lost their jobs in these challenging times. Some days, the magnitude of the pandemic and the sadness we felt for individuals, their families, and communities was overwhelming. Our small team leant on each other – virtually – during these times, increasing our number of team gatherings and check-ins, reaching inward to one another for support, while relentlessly and passionately campaigning for Planeterra’s vision of a world where community tourism is put at the centre of travel’s recovery. 

The Planeterra community continued to show their support and rallied together in September, when we launched our first Planeterra Trek Challenge. Together, more than 550 participants set off to symbolically trek to Everest Base Camp, walking the 85,000 steps around their neighbourhoods in more than 30 countries while fundraising over CA$100,000 for Planeterra’s work. 

As we look back on 2020, we feel immense gratitude to all those we worked alongside, the volunteers who lent a hand, our monthly donors who gave us confidence in our work, and to all those who supported us both big and small.

We wish you all the best in 2021, and are hopeful for the return of travel. But we do not wish for a return to the status quo. We will be working tirelessly to ensure communities are put at the centre of travel’s reemergence, that travel companies, governments, and travellers all recognize the importance of community tourism as a means to empower communities, and most importantly, that communities receive the training and support they need to thrive. 

From all of us, 

Jamie, Rhea, Alanna, Crystal, Carlota, Rosselin, Joel, Laura, Evie, Tung and Priyanka 

Read more

CFLI Project in Sri Lanka comes to a successful close

Planeterra & Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives

In June of 2020, Planeterra was awarded a grant from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), for a project focussed on increasing domestic demand for Sthree’s handicraft and cafe has come to a close! The CFLI is a program designed to support small-scale, high-impact projects in developing countries, which align with Global Affairs Canada’s thematic priority areas for engagement.

This month marks the end of Planeterra’s project with the Candian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI). We began working with CFLI in June with our partners at the Women’s Development Centre (WDC) in Sri Lanka. The goal of this project was to empower women entrepreneurs dependent on international tourism for their income, to better access the domestic markets in order to reduce the volatility of their household income to changes in the tourism market.

We are excited to share that this project has equipped 110 women entrepreneurs and 23 employees from the WDC in Sri Lanka with increased knowledge of business management, improved handicraft skills, and a better understanding of domestic market channels and trends. 

These trainings have renewed a sense of confidence within the entrepreneurs to capture new markets with the right products, and a new confidence in the WDC team to lead the entrepreneurs to success and better tap into online markets to support the sale of their products,” says Rhea Simms, Senior Programs Manager of Planeterra.

Handicraft quality training was conducted on shoe making, batik dying, candle making, crocheting, soft toy making, saree blouse making, artisanal soap making, packaging and food dehydration. All skills training activities were identified through market assessments conducted to better understand local purchasing trends. Some entrepreneurs went on to receive mentorship which allowed them to put their new skills into action and develop their very first business plans. Marketing and social media training played a large role as well, as the world becomes increasingly online. 

While COVID-19 impacted some of the sessions, the local trainers and entrepreneurs were quick to improvise using Whatsapp to communicate and participate in lessons remotely. Recordings of training sessions were completed to keep the program moving along effectively and ensure that the learnings could continue beyond the project period.

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the project was a success with over 160 people benefiting from the project, 149 of those being women. While it is still early to know the full impact of this project, six women entrepreneurs have developed brand new products for the domestic market – two of them related to food dehydration. Four partnerships were developed to increase sales and skills for women entrepreneurs. Lastly, three entrepreneurs were able to secure large orders through effective marketing both direct and through social media, with differentiated products based on project learnings. 

 

We are proud to have been a part of such an impactful initiative and we know that it will continue to make a difference for women entrepreneurs across Sri Lanka. 

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more

An Interview with Amoun, Founder of Domari Society

An Interview with Domari Society Founder, Amoun

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL- Community centre in Jerusalem supporting marginalized Domari women and children, earning income through a meal and handicraft experience for travellers.

While women represent the majority of workers, they are often in lower-level positions and are earning 14.7% less than their male counterparts. A lack of education or formal training jeopardizes women’s active participation in tourism. At Planeterra we are working to close this gap.

Meet Amoun Sleem, she founded Domari Society at the age of 16 and since then has committed her life to serve her community. For International Women’s Day we at Planeterra wanted to highlight the amazing women we work with all around the world who are continually making an impact.

We had the opportunity to interview Amoun that you can read below.  

Why did you start your organization?

The Domari Society of Gypsies in Jerusalem was established in 1999, I opened the doors of my house as a shelter and a center for my community. I wanted the Dom community, especially women and children to find a space of tolerance, acceptance, and most importantly a place where they can develop new skills, get support in continuing their education, and gain empowerment tools for a better life. 

The society was a response to the loss of cultural pride, lack of education, unemployment and poverty within the community. Our Dom history begins with us migrating from India to the Middle East. We adopted the local language (Arabic) and religion (Islam) but kept our traditions. The Dom community are seen as “different” by their Arab neighbours, but as Palestinians, they face the same unequal treatment from the Israeli state. Our mission is to improve the circumstances of the Dom community. We focus on educational development, economic empowerment, and cultural preservation.  

What impacts have you seen in your community?

Our work is focused on educational development, economic empowerment, and cultural preservation. To meet these goals, we create programs especially for women and children. Firstly, we have an after-school tutoring program for Dom children. Our goal is to raise Dom children’s educational level,  to encourage parents and children to continue with education, and give Dom children better opportunities and choices of future work. 

Before COVID-19 the center had become an integral part of their everyday life. They felt safe and motivated to go to school every day, and their grades were getting better and their involvement with school activities increased. We believe that our tutoring support is helping children to stop dropping-out of school, as they get more confident with their abilities and aspirations for the future. We are happy to say that we have students who are entering high-school now. However, it has been a challenge to keep such progress with continuous lock-downs and limitations. We are focusing on helping Dom students at home to take part in the shift to online-learning; we are contacting donors and applying for grants to acquire tablets or laptops for Dom children. a few of the Dom children are using their parents’ smartphones to access their classes and the remaining have no alternatives for the physical school classrooms. 

Secondly, we are dedicated to providing Humanitarian Aid, especially during COVID-19. A lot of Dom parents have lost their jobs and their only source of income. We are focusing on maintaining our community’s will-power and continue to give the children assurance and hope during the pandemic. The Domari Society supports the Dom family with vital and necessary supplies; food packages, blankets, school supplies, and children gifts to uplift their spirits. 

Thirdly, we have a tourism program with Planeterra. Our goal is to inform people around the world about Domari history and culture, create work opportunities for Domari women and increase their independence, and receive income outside of grants. The project before COVID-19 was a great opportunity for our community, as they were able to use their skills and communicate with different people from different cultures. We believe that our mission is giving a voice to our community.

Fourthly, we offer a space for the community to meet, exchange and live out their traditions. This is essential for preserving the Domari culture, which is at risk of marginalization. One of our projects is the Domari Language Preservation. We invite elderly members of the community and record Domari language. It provides an opportunity for the children to forge a connection with their cultural, linguistic heritage in hopes that it will not disappear. Before the pandemic, the community center held a variety of activities to keep the Dom traditions alive; traditional Gypsy food dinners, live music and dance. Additionally, the Domari Society has compiled a cookbook of Gypsy recipes and a book about Domari history entitled The Dom of Jerusalem.

What impacts has your organization had on women in your community, and why is that so important?

Dom women are the pillars of our community, they are the pillars of change and achieving economic empowerment. I believe in order to build a strong independent society that has a clear future, I must provide the Dom women with the tools and skills to function independently in their communities and later transfer these mindsets and work ethics to their children, who are the future.

 One of the courses we provide is a small Business Course, in which women can learn skills necessary for starting and running an independent business. The course was geared towards individuals already working in the service industry and includes accounting, operations management, marketing, and technical expertise. We also provide catering and hairdressing courses with practical and theoretical sessions, which include psycho-social workshops, business follow-ups, income statements, and marketing sessions. We aim to increase the possibilities of Dom women finding employment or opening their own businesses, and as a result, improve the status of Dom women within their families and societies.

Dom women are always eager to participate in new learning opportunities that we provide, as they receive official certificates and real skills. Consequently, we recognized that Dom women became more confident, and the Dom community especially men are becoming more open-minded to the women’s various roles and abilities in the society. When our women find employment through the skills developed in courses, both the economy of the community and families as a whole experience positive effects. 

We also offer the center as space for Domari women to showcase their handicraft work, which is their only source of income, our goal as well is to celebrate the Dom people culture and cultivate cultural pride and self-confidence.

What actions do you take to ensure women in your workplace have equal opportunities?

At the Domari center, I make sure to give every Dom woman the chance and opportunities to develop new skills, gain experience, and find her path in life. I believe that it’s important to hear every woman’s struggle and find a program that suits her best. I always strive to be a mentor and provide guidance whether for work or for personal matters. Of course, the work environment revolves around building confidence between employees and volunteers, and where trust and cooperation are essential for progression. Therefore, we address our employees’ personal life pressures and duties, especially because I work with women. Most Dom women feel that they can’t reach their goals and mainly in their careers, because they lack childcare support, but at my center children are welcomed and we provide games and a space for them.

What are your dreams for your organization?

I have many dreams for my organization, one is to make the Domari Society Center a model for all gypsies around the world; to become an international focal point for connecting all gypsies together, and I aspire to make it a model for all gypsies -especially in the Middle-East-  where from it they can derive pride in our culture and ethnic roots. Such a dream is a journey where we have many bus-stops; end discrimination, and obtain economic, legal, and social equality. I strive to reach leaders who will advocate for our rights, promote justice, and give voice to the voiceless.

You can learn more about our work the Domari Society here. 

Read more

Panama commits to bringing travel back better with launch of PACT – Panama Alliance for Community Tourism

New initiative designed to improve well-being of residents, visitors and the environment

This week the Panama Government, in partnership with the Panamanian Foundation for Sustainable Tourism (APTSO), Fundación Natura, and non-profit Planeterra, the global leader in community tourism enterprise development, announced a joint venture to work with communities across Panama to build community tourism experiences that improve the well-being of residents, visitors, and the environment, celebrating the natural beauty and must-have cultural experiences the country offers. 

The new partnership aims to reposition Panama as a destination focused on incredible cultural immersion experiences for travellers that leave a positive footprint on the country in terms of supporting local people and businesses, and ensures traveller dollars stay in-destination. 

“The launch of the Panama Alliance for Community Tourism (PACT) is a major break-through in the implementation of Panama’s Sustainable Tourism Master Plan”, explained Ivan Eskildsen, the Panamanian Minister of Tourism. 

“In our Master Plan, we have prioritized the development of tourism experiences focused on the ‘discerning traveler’, a global trend that is demanding more and more authentic experiences that benefit local communities, and their surrounding environment. We are excited that PACT will accelerate the implementation of this strategy, with local and global partners that will help Panama consolidate world-class community tourism experiences, that showcase the extraordinary wealth of our natural and cultural heritage.”

The partners involved in the PACT initiative plan to work closely with at least 10 communities and their tourism enterprises in order to assist them with income diversification, product development, and customer service. Long-term sustainability will be a focus for the initiative’s pilot projects, which will include training local counterparts in Planeterra’s highly successful community-led tourism development methodology and local communities in all aspects of the tourism value chain, including business planning, regenerative agriculture and resiliency building in order to ensure each community is set up for success.  

“Planeterra is excited to work with APTSO, Fundación Natura and the Ministry of Tourism to launch this groundbreaking community tourism initiative,” says Jamie Sweeting, president of Planeterra. 

“We look forward to bringing Planeterra’s proven approach to empowering community-led tourism to Panama and, in the process, strengthening local partners to lead this initiative forward.”

“The PACT partners share a vision for using proven solutions to put host communities at the heart of tourism in Panama,” explained Annie Young, president of the Panamanian Foundation for Sustainable Tourism (APTSO). “Through close collaboration, we can achieve the goals of  the Tourism Vision 2025 of the Panama  Sustainable Tourism Master Plan and become globally recognized as a world-class sustainable tourism destination while supporting the wellbeing of our communities.”

For more information, please visit www.planeterra.org  and www.aptso.org.

ends

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more

Deepening impact alongside Canada’s Fund for Local Initiatives in Sri Lanka

Planeterra & Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives

In June of 2020, Planeterra was awarded a grant from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), for a project focussed on increasing domestic demand for Sthree’s handicraft and cafe. The CFLI is a program designed to support small-scale, high-impact projects in developing countries, which align with Global Affairs Canada’s thematic priority areas for engagement. The program is directed at projects conceived and designed predominantly by local partners.

At Planeterra, we imagine a world where funds from the travel industry flow freely to individuals and their families, changing lives and entire communities in the process. As the global travel industry stood still for much of 2020, we pivoted to ensure we made an even deeper impact with our partners at the Women’s Development Centre (WDC) in Kandy, Sri Lanka through accessing Canadian government funding that has helped their artisan community diversify income sources and cater to a local market.

Planeterra first forged a partnership with the WDC in 2017, when we provided them with funding to renovate the Sthree Craft Shop & Cafe. We also connected them to travel industry partners, who started bringing tour groups for a meal at the cafe in 2018. Within the first two years of the cafe’s reopening, Sthree’s sales had increased 400%, and they were able to begin investing more funds into their network of over 170 entrepreneurs, 9 cafe workers, 5 differently-abled server trainees, and support the running cost of WDC’s shelter for abused women. 

In June of 2020, Planeterra was awarded a grant from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), for a project focussed on increasing domestic demand for Sthree’s handicraft and cafe. Goals for the project included increasing domestic demand for artisan handicrafts by 50%, training 25 female entrepreneurs in quality control, and creating e-learning resources for product development. With the main activities of the project now complete, Sthree Project Manager, Ramona Stephen is looking back and examining the success of the endeavour. 

“Entrepreneurs who previously focused on catering to tourists, now have adjusted their products as well as their prices to match local customers through various market research and surveys carried out,” explained Ramona. “Entrepreneurs have also had the opportunity to polish their skills and acquire new skills in order to cater to this customer segment.”

Tea tasting class for local entrepreneurs.

A key component of the project was the multiple training sessions, both socially-distanced and in-person when safe, and online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Ramona, these training sessions helped “boost entrepreneur confidence” and put a focus on “marketing, pitching, costing, networking and packaging.” Perhaps one of the greatest long-term impacts of the project will be the sustainability of online training, which shall assist entrepreneurs in months and years to come, as well as the business plans developed by entrepreneurs – something they previously did not possess.

“The project has overall upskilled entrepreneurs and provided Sthree with tools to strengthen entrepreneur capacities while creating a sustainable structure to provide entrepreneurs with necessary services to economically empower women,” said Ramona. 

Planeterra’s Regional Representative based in India, Priyanka Singh, oversaw the management of this particular project, and has been overwhelmed by the positive impacts of the activities undertaken, particularly considering the timing of the program. 

“This project is special as it shows how Planeterra and its partners are adapting to the changing times,” said Priyanka. “It showed the spirit of perseverance even in times of adversity and was inspiring to see how they innovated and ensured that maximum entrepreneurs could benefit from such a program.”

Local entrepreneurs at a packaging workshop.

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more

MIGRANTOUR: INTERCULTURAL WALKS TO DISCOVER MULTI-ETHNIC NAPLES

 

After several months of pause, Migrantour, the intercultural walks to discover multiethnic Naples, started again on September 14. Migrantour is an initiative born in Turin that arrived in Naples in 2015 and provides guided tours of the city with intercultural guides of foreign origin. 

Migrantour Naples provides 4 routes organized by Casba Social Cooperative, a Planeterra partner since 2018. In this interview, meet its President, Jomahe Solis, to learn more about Migrantour and the work done by Casba.

*This is an extract of the interview originally published in italian on the website of Impact Campania, a project which aims to promote the integration of foreign citizens in the region of Campania, Italy.

Hi Jomahe, can you tell us how the Migrantour initiative in Naples was born?

We officially started with the Migrantour Naples project in 2015 even if we did it informally in 2013. The Migrantour concept was born in Turin in 2010 thanks to Viaggi Solidali; we came into contact with them and proposed to bring it to Naples. We obtained their accreditation to be part of the network after verifying that most of the members of our Cooperative are foreigners. This is the idea, we are not tour guides, but intercultural guides. 

In 2015 we obtained funding from the Waldensian Church and entered the official Migrantour circuit which provides 200 hours of training for the intercultural guides. Nowadays, Migrantour has become an international network because, two years ago, we participated in a European funded project called “New Roots”, which extended the network to several European cities.

What are the characteristics that distinguish Migrantour?

The Migrantour is not the usual city tour, because we are not tour guides, we are intercultural companions. We bring people to the discovery of popular neighbourhoods, to see the ferment of migrant communities. Casba Social Cooperative has been working with the integration of migrants for over twenty years and we know the communities and areas of the city very well. We like to call it “a visit to the world at zero kilometres”, since we go to a place and we can imagine being abroad, encountering colours, noises, smells and flavours of other cultures. This brings an extra sensitivity to the presence of migrants in our cities.

In some way can we say that Migrantour represents a counter-narrative of migration?

In recent years there has been a negative narrative, focused on boat landings and the phobia of the foreigner who comes to take everything. Contrary, we see other realities, such as the entrepreneur who works and makes others work, perhaps Neapolitans. This type of migration narrative is the message we want to spread through the Migrantour. 

How many types of routes are there?

We currently have four routes: that of Piazza Garibaldi which is called “A thousand worlds at the station”; “In the belly of Naples” which starts from Piazza Mercato; then we have “All the faces of the exchange” which is in the area of the Courts, this path was created recently and intends to be a story about old and new slavery; finally, the last is “Next stop: Piazza Cavour” which represents a crossroads of worlds and cultures.

Now we are working on a new route, trying to establish a dialogue between different places of worship. After the lockdown, together with Viaggi Solidali, we tried to invent something new and decided to create a one-week tourist package, conceived by our Casba Cooperative which includes the historic center of Naples, as well as Pompeii, Procida and of course the Migrantour.

Who usually takes part in your tours?

To tell the truth, the public is very mixed, which is why we also try to personalize them with special stages and tastings of typical cuisine or drinks. For example, when we go to the market run by the Bengalis, we taste the mango juice and the delicious Sri Lankan biscuits created to accompany the tea, because having had the English domination they made this tradition theirs. On the other hand, when we travel with foreigners, we explain the tradition of “caffè sospeso” (leaving a coffee paid for someone that cannot afford it) and sfogliatella (typical Neapolitan pastry). However, the routes are mainly designed for Neapolitans and school children, since the idea is precisely that it is the local population who can realize with whom they share the city. It is a matter of open-mindedness that allows you to have a different look. 

The Migrantour of Naples and that of Rome have attracted the interest of the international tour operator G-Adventures, who brings groups to take part in the tours. Often those arriving from abroad have a more open vision and already know things such as multi-ethnic markets, so for them we take the itinerary “In the belly of Naples”, which is more focused on interreligious exchange and Neapolitan habits. In this walk, we visit both the mosque and the Carmine church and we try to explain the link between the different religions. In that area, there is the Black Madonna as well, to which many Neapolitans are devoted. 

Why is it important to know this multi-ethnic face of Naples?

It is important not to stop at the news that mass media transmit, both in terms of foreign communities and the city of Naples. We must go and see, get to know the positive things, things that later on we might be interested in. It is also a way to enrich your life, your culture and why not your table too! As an example, ginger, which is now so fashionable and is put all over the place, has always existed, here in Italy too. So how did this fashion come about? It was born from the knowledge of the other, the customs and habits of the other, it is always an enrichment. If during the walk you find something you like, maybe you come back, or if there is a shop where you used to pass and you didn’t even notice it, now you know it and maybe you go inside.

We must favour intercultural exchange because there is no fixed identity, we will understand that we can only get richer, becoming less vulnerable.

Read more

PLANETERRA LAUNCHES VIRTUAL TREK CHALLENGE TO HELP REBUILD COMMUNITY TOURISM

Founder Bruce Poon Tip invites industry to join him virtually trekking to Everest Base Camp

Planeterra Foundation, the non-profit partner of G Adventures and G Touring, today launched its first annual ‘Planeterra Trek Challenge’ and is inviting the travel industry to join a virtual trek to Everest Base Camp to help rebuild community tourism around the world following the devastating impact of COVID-19.

This year’s trek places a spotlight on the work of Planeterra’s partners in South Asia, including Nepal, with the challenge being for participants to walk the 65 kilometres (85,000 steps) it takes to climb to Everest Base Camp. The challenge takes place from September 21-27, with participants ‘reaching the top’ on World Tourism Day, September 27, 2020.

Planeterra’s founder, Bruce Poon Tip, who also founded small-group adventure tour operator G Adventures and is the owner of G Touring, has already built his own team, and pledged to match donations from participating teams, and donors, up to $19,000 USD.

“The Planeterra Trek Challenge is an opportunity for us to come together virtually and create a sense of connection at a time where people are feeling distanced, not just from travel but from other countries and cultures. Most of us are missing travelling and many are looking for a way to give back to the people and communities who have given us life-changing travel experiences in the past. I’m excited to invite our agency partners, suppliers and the wider tourism industry to join us in raising some much-needed funds.

“We also want to spotlight this iconic region for travel that is currently void of tourists. These communities need our help, so let’s get away from our home offices for a bit, maybe tackle a personal fitness challenge at the same time, and do what we can to make a difference,” says Poon Tip.

Planeterra’s network of 85 community projects around the world was left without any source of income when global travel was suspended as a result of the current pandemic. Local people and their communities need funds fast in order to rebuild and recover, and the Planeterra Foundation is encouraging travel agency partners, along with their friends and family, to join them in raising awareness and much-needed money.

“We are preparing a series of unique content and stories online that will celebrate and highlight community tourism. This includes interviews with travellers who have summited Everest, interviews with community tourism leaders and cooking demonstrations. Anyone who loves travel is going to want to get involved,” adds Alanna Wallace, Planeterra’s program and communications manager.

Donations collected will provide kickstarter funding for communities around the world that need to invest in new health and safety measures, contribute to training for safe reopening, and help to ensure communities remain resilient and safe for years to come.

To join the Planeterra Trek Challenge please visit this link to register your team. 

ends

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more

PLANETERRA LAUNCHES ONLINE RESOURCE TO STRENGTHEN COMMUNITY TOURISM BUSINESSES

Planeterra partners receive webinar kick-off training in wake of COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, halting the global tourism industry, local communities who rely on tourism for income are being severely impacted. Working with some of the most impoverished communities in the world, Planeterra Foundation is releasing emergency grants to those most in need across their 85 projects, which supports the livelihoods of 65,000 individuals globally.

The COVID-19 pandemic shocked the world and threw the global tourism industry into a tailspin. With flights grounded and airports empty, community tourism businesses around the world who rely on international travellers for revenue, are struggling to survive.

Planeterra launched the Turn Travel Into Impact from Home emergency fundraising campaign at the end of March, when it became clear the pandemic was going to negatively impact projects around the world who were going to see a drastic reduction in business for the foreseeable future. At the same time, the team sent out a needs assessment survey, which asked all 85 projects to describe the challenges they were facing. Part of this survey also asked businesses what kind of assistance they needed in terms of coaching and training.

“We saw through responses to our needs assessment survey, that our partners really wanted business planning support,” explains Planeterra Program Manager Rhea Simms, who led the Planeterra Learning Hub project. “They were all thinking, at a time without travellers, about how they could diversify their business, perfect their current experiences, and maybe prepare new ones for when travel returns.”

With these training needs in mind, the Planeterra Learning Hub was built around a series of training modules meant to assist Planeterra’s projects around the world. Seventeen years of community tourism experience was systematically collected and published in a privately accessible site accessible to the employees of local businesses across six continents. The purpose of the site is to allow Planeterra’s partners to improve their tourism experiences, explore new areas of potential income, better market their organizations, and improve their financial and human resource management, all leading to their ability to scale their impact in the future.

The site was launched with much anticipation on June 25th, filled with approximately 30 different topics and about 50 worksheets, templates, and videos in two languages. The launch was made official by the participation of about 38 Planeterra project partners in two webinars – in English and in Spanish – conducted by the Planeterra team.

“We see it so often – the challenges our community partners experience in rural India are often not that different than what we see in beautiful Zimbabwe. It was time to bring these stories to light and allow for more cross learning from our diverse partners,” says Simms.

The launch was overwhelmingly successful, with testimonials from projects already rolling in. “I am sure this will be very helpful in many ways for our project,” commented Jose Vargas from Life Monteverde in Costa Rica. “I really liked that Planeterra is always innovating and supporting the projects,” added Ofelia from Mi Cafecito.

As the weeks go on, the Planeterra team will continue to host webinars on various topics in both English and Spanish for their partners, with the goal to translate the resources into even more languages. The Community Development Specialist team, who work regionally to support Planeterra’s projects, will also assist partners and guide them through the Learning Hub.

“Our global team will be following up with projects to make sure they’re getting the most out of the Planeterra Learning Hub,” says Simms. “It’ll ensure our partners come back even stronger when travel starts again, and will make them more resilient in the future.”

ends.

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more