Communities

Condé Nast Traveler Names Planeterra One of 2022’s “Bright Ideas in Travel”

Written by Tricia Schers – Director, Partnerships and Development

“To be recognized as one of the organizations transforming the travel industry by one of the world’s leading travel publications is an honour,” said Jamie Sweeting, President of Planeterra.

Planeterra - Condé Nast Traveler's Bright Ideas in Travel 2022 list

We are thrilled to announce that Planeterra has been recognized in Condé Nast Traveler’s first-ever Bright Ideas in Travel list.

The recognition is for our Global Community Tourism Fund. Through this fund, Planeterra provides small grants to help local entrepreneurs and communities worldwide benefit from tourism, ultimately making the future of travel more responsible and equitable.

“To be recognized as one of the organizations transforming the travel industry by one of the world’s leading travel publications is an honour,” said Jamie Sweeting, President of Planeterra. 

The Bright Ideas in Travel list is a special annual edition that highlights businesses and individuals who are tackling the most pressing issues in tourism and driving the industry forward. The list is divided into different sections including hotels, destinations, air travel, cruise, rail travel, space travel, planning tools and organizations and classified with the following badge keys: tech, design, sustainability, community, accessibility, inclusion and conservation. 

According to Condé Nast Traveler, Planeterra and the other innovators featured on the list are changing the way we travel. Honorees were selected by their global network of editors working in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, India, the Middle East, and China. 

The Global Community Tourism Fund is one of the first programs in the tourism industry to reach out specifically to community-based organizations with grants ranging from $1,500 to $3,000. You can read more about our first round of grants here

Looking ahead, we plan to grow the fund to be able to offer more grants in 2023 and we invite travel companies and travellers interested in supporting this innovative initiative to join us to help uplift even more communities through travel.

To learn more about Condé Nast Traveler Bright Ideas in Travel 2022, click here.

Help support the Global Community Tourism Fund, donate here.

Read more

World Tourism Day 2022, a time for reflection

Written by Tricia Schers – Director, Partnerships and Development

Through our GCTN, we are helping tourism to build back better and in a more inclusive way that engages thousands of local people all over the world.

Ngadas Community Homestay - Java, Indonesia

Each year World Tourism Day is celebrated on September 27. This year the official World Tourism Day celebration will be held in Bali, Indonesia and focus on the theme: ‘Rethinking Tourism’. 

Putting communities at the centre of the conversation is something Planeterra has been doing since our inception and on the occasion of World Tourism Day, we are celebrating how the travel industry is reshaping the roles of communities in tourism. We truly believe that the potential for tourism to be a force for good is infinite and we welcome the opportunity for our approximately 450 community tourism partners to be at the forefront of a reimagined tourism industry. 

Through our Global Community Tourism Network (GCTN), we are helping the industry to build back better and in a more inclusive way that engages thousands of local people all over the world. 

While it has been an unimaginably difficult couple of years, Planeterra has been working to help our community partners to recover and prepare to receive travellers once again. Although many partners are fully operational, for others, the road to recovery has been more difficult and they are still working to be ready to welcome their first visitors. 

With the World Tourism Day celebration taking place in Indonesia this year, we’d like to take this opportunity to spotlight two of Planeterra’s community partners from this beautiful country that are working to create a positive impact:

Ngadas Community Homestay

Ngadas Community Homestay – Java, Indonesia

The village of Ngadas is home to the Tengger tribe. This community acts as the protectors of Mount Bromo Volcano, one of the most sacred sites in Indonesia. By working with the Tengger tribe, we created a homestay and community tour program that is fully owned and managed by them.

The program benefits 498 households with ripple effects supporting many micro-enterprises that include: local farmers, local guides, drivers, tour guides, and homestay hosts.

The homestay program is located inside of Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park and allows the older generation to diversify their income. It also creates opportunities to employ the next generation of Tenngerese enabling them to stay in their local community. Travellers have a chance to meet and stay in a traditional Tengger home and explore the surroundings on a community-developed hike.

Learn more about Ngadas Community Homestay, here.

Senang Hati – Bali, Indonesia 

The Senang Hati Foundation provides programs to develop self-confidence, and physical and economic independence as well as to create awareness for the rights of differently-abled adults in Ubud, Bali. The centre provides skills training that enables members to become self-supporting through jobs related to hospitality, painting, sewing, and woodworking. Every year, 30 students benefit from the program, moving on to start their own businesses and families.

Planeterra supported Senang Hati in renovating their dream kitchen. This kitchen is fully accessible with counters, sinks, shelves, and working spaces customized for those using mobility devices. 

When visiting them, travellers enjoy a traditional Balinese lunch that is prepped, cooked, and served by the members at Senang Hati.

Learn more about Senang Hati, here.

If you would like to support our work to uplift community-owned tourism businesses, you can donate here.

Read more

Rethinking the way the tourism industry operates

“The potential of tourism is enormous and we have a shared responsibility to make sure it is fully realized” - Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general UNWTO

Tourism is an $8 trillion global industry, but many local businesses and communities do not benefit from it. There are some forms of tourism where $0 reaches the hands of local people. Planeterra is working to change that.

Each year World Tourism Day (WTD) is celebrated on September 27 to spread awareness about the importance of tourism and its impact. This year’s WTD invites us to “Rethink Tourism”, to collectively reflect on where our sector is going, what have we all learned in the last couple of years having experienced the impact of the pandemic, where we want to go and most importantly, how we get there without leaving anyone behind.

In the words of the secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvili, “the potential of tourism is enormous and we have a shared responsibility to make sure it is fully realized”. Over the years, we have witnessed how tourism can enhance communities worldwide. By working closely with them, we have seen how economic opportunities are created, places are protected, and cultures are celebrated through travel. However, we are well aware that there are great challenges to overcome and are determined to keep defying the way the tourism industry operates.

It has been an unimaginably difficult couple of years for the tourism sector due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The road to recovery has not been easy, though as the world opens up again, travelers are slowly returning to our partners and we can take the lessons learned to strengthen our impact on the future.

Planeterra cannot think of a better way to celebrate tourism than by continuing to amplify the voices of communities, finding the best ways to put people at the center of key discussions and supporting community tourism enterprises that have big social and environmental goals. This way, tourism dollars stay in the community, creating jobs and training opportunities, with profits invested into community development and environmental programs locally. 

We also wanted to share that over the past few months, we have been working on our flagship initiative, Project 100, in which we plan to incorporate 100 community tourism experiences into G Adventures tours. As countries have been opening back up, new community experiences have been integrated into these exciting tours and we are so close to reaching our milestone!

Today, we want to introduce you to two community enterprises that are part of Project 100. These businesses are making a difference in their communities by working with travelers and giving them the chance to experience the local culture and create lasting memories. 

GoodWork Foundation_planeterra

Good Work Foundation – Hazyview, South Africa

The Kruger National Park is a well-known tourist destination and while it is a thriving financial hub and creates many job opportunities, in the villages that surround the glamorous fences of the park, thousands of people live in poverty, with no access to education and basic livelihood needs. This is where Good Work Foundation (GWF) comes into play.

GWF is a nonprofit organization that trains local youth in technology, conservation as well as Tourism and Hospitality. They provide opportunities in the tourism sector for youth in the villages bordering the Kruger National Park. Every year the GWF provides free training to 25 youth and bridges them into opportunities in the hotels and lodges in the area.

Thanks to the GWF, youth are gaining skills in entrepreneurship and tourism to break the cycle of poverty around the Kruger National Park by generating sources of income. Additionally, through the training provided by the GWF, youth are able to access much-needed education.

Planeterra partnered with the GWF and their Hospitality Academy to create an express Coffee Bar that serves delicious coffee and a tasty macadamia snack sourced locally to travellers who are visiting the Kruger National Park.

The Coffee Bar supports covering tuition and is also an opportunity for youth in the program to receive practical training in barista skills as well as earnings for their work. Tourism allows the GWF to reduce their dependency on grants to fund the academy, increase class sizes and train more youth.

To learn more about GWF, click here.

Safi Kitchen_Jordan_Planeterra_P100

Safi Kitchen – Southern Ghawr, Jordan

Creating opportunities for women and youth and preserving the local culture and natural resources of the southern region of the Jordan Valley (Ghawr) inspired Safi Kitchen to open its doors at the end of 2019. This nonprofit organization invites locals to participate in an authentic farm and meal experience to showcase their traditions and culture through food.

By engaging in tourism activities, community members receive a much-needed income from the kitchen. Women can now make their own financial decisions and youth are leading up conservation activities in their communities. 

The community continues to value their environment and more businesses are being led by women. They are also sharing their culture authentically and are working to position their region as a tourist destination.

Through a partnership with Safi Kitchen, Planeterra facilitated a market connection to the tourism sector, where travellers enjoy an authentic meal experience and understand the traditional methods of farming in Jordan while seeing the fresh ingredients picked and used in their meals. They also get an opportunity to learn about how this community is using agriculture to preserve their environment.

Safi Kitchen provides a traditional lunch, tea and snacks to travellers. They also have an in-community bike trail for active travellers with a mountainous backdrop. The tour is led by youth from the community who are receiving an income from the tours.

To learn more about Safi Kitchen, click here.

Stay tuned to discover more community enterprises that will benefit from hosting travelers!

If you would like to support our work to uplift community-owned tourism businesses, you can donate here.

Read more

Health & Safety training for community tourism in a post-COVID era

“Thanks to the project’s workshop, we have a chance to sit together, have open discussions and be engaged in developing our community rules” - Mr. Trinh Van Kim (Doi Ngo village, Van Long NR).

Doi Ngo_Vietnam_Planeterra_IUCN

In July and August 2022, our team in Vietnam conducted training on Health and Safety (H&S) implications in community tourism at Cuc Phuong National Park and Van Long Wetlands Nature Reserve.

With this activity, we aimed to provide suggestions on operational procedures to manage health risks for tourism-related experiences in a post-COVID-19 era. We also wanted to share public space renovation ideas to create a safe tourism environment in the communities and guide service providers in good practices for waste treatment.

A total of 58 people attended the H&S workshops at two villages in Cuc Phuong National Park and 125 at three villages in Van Long Wetlands Nature Reserve.

During these sessions, community members became aware of the Rules and Regulations in H&S and community tourism services proposed by local authorities and developed a Code of Conduct for H&S and Services, including a set of rules that guests should follow during their stay in the villages.

In addition, the local community agreed on an Action Plan for renovating the public space to create a clean, healthy, and safe environment to welcome guests. Some of the proposed interventions are:

  • Transforming a designated area in Khanh village into a parking lot and planting tall trees to provide shade.
  • Reducing waste in every household.
  • Making the villages even more picturesque by planting more flowers and decorating trees in front of local family homes.

Community members have also compromised to follow H&S procedures when welcoming guests and gained knowledge about the cleaning and waste management processes. 

While conducting the H&S training, our team in Vietnam reflected on the importance of sharing information about H&S-related issues with the community in general, not only with those involved in tourism. Therefore, they decided to hold different sessions, one for all residents and another for the households that provide tourism activities.

HS training - Vuon Thi_Vietnam_Planeterra_IUCN

They also realized that, when working on a project, it is crucial to have in-depth knowledge about situations, beliefs and the characteristics of each community to adjust training or activities to their specific needs.

Click here to learn more about the ‘Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World’

Read more

Cash-for-Work and Ecotourism itineraries in Peru

Community-led Action Plans have been a crucial part of the "Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World” project in Peru.

During March and June 2022, our team in the field worked alongside the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in developing two Action Plans led by ten communities from the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve and Río Abiseo National Park. 

Through this participatory process, the communities determined how they envision tourism in their territories and determined concrete steps to achieve it.

One of the key elements of these plans has been the Cash-for-Work (CFW) interventions, through which the Project will finance the construction of the infrastructure and equipment that each community established in their Action Plans.

In Río Abiseo and Amarakaeri, these include the renovation of bridges and accessible tourist trails, the implementation of a restaurant, a reception house for guests, and a tourist viewpoint, among others.

The initial state of a bridge in the Pucallpillo Community, Río Abiseo National Park

With the CFW programs, Planeterra and IUCN aim to impact 107 families in the Río Abiseo National Park and 75 families in the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve.

The benefits not only include purchasing construction materials, but also providing jobs to the community members participating in the Project.

The success and continuation of this process lie in the collaboration of several stakeholders. These include local offices from the protected areas of Río Abiseo and Amarakaeri of the SERNANP (the Peruvian National Service for Natural Areas Protected by the State) and the Amarakaeri Administration Contract Executor (also known by its acronym in Spanish, ECA) and of course, the representatives from the local communities. 

Socialization Workshop, Boca Ishiriwe, Amarakaeri Communal Reserve

Additionally, between June 10 and 21, 2022, 145 participants from five communities of Río Abiseo National Park were trained on how to create Ecotourism Itineraries and Products.

The training sessions were developed in collaboration with the IUCN and aimed to evaluate and create specific knowledge in the following areas:

  • Ecotourism and its different types of experiences: Each session explained the opportunities of ecotourism-related activities and their connection with conservation.
  • Developing tourism products: Tailor-made itineraries according to the local context and market opportunities.
  • Measuring the potential of an attraction: Through in-field technical visits to the main attractions of the communities.
  • Itinerary planning and costs: Practical workshops to build itineraries based on the experiences and expectations of community members.
  • Communication management between stakeholders: To create the final itineraries, it was important to keep in close communication with stakeholders such as the SERNANP.

Training sessions were tailored to meet the needs and potential of each community. 

Action Plan Workshop, Rio Abiseo

As a result, five communities in Rio Abiseo have itineraries that include traditional activities, costs, and the number of people responsible for each experience, making them an attractive option for local and regional tour operations to promote the destination. 

Read more

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples around the globe

TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION BY INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES AROUND THE WORLD.

For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples have shared an ancestral connection to the land and the natural resources around them. Their unique cultures and ways of relating to each other and the environment have shaped their identity.

Learning from these communities can not only offer an advanced understanding of food systems, environmental conservation, science and innovation but also provide unforgettable experiences while travelling.

Tourism is presented as an alternative to preserving the cultural diversity and the traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples. Likewise, it can foster entrepreneurship among local communities, helping them to develop socioeconomically and become more empowered.

For travellers, learning about Indigenous communities around the world allows them to delve into the traditions that have shaped our culture and history. As a result of this, both locals and tourists benefit from an educational and transformational experience.

In Planeterra, we support programs that recognize the unique offerings that Indigenous and rural communities have for tourism. 

Meet some of our partners who are working to create meaningful connections between travellers and Indigenous peoples: 

colombia

Gotsezhy Wiwa community tourism, Colombia

The Wiwa and Kogui are descendants of the ancient Tayrona people and have remained in isolation throughout history until the last couple of generations. They see tourism as a way to uphold their cultural values and share their customs and traditions, while also guaranteeing territorial sanitation and economic autonomy for the families of these communities. 

Planeterra worked with the Wiwa community leaders directly to identify opportunities in communities along Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) trekking route. Together, we developed a training kitchen, and a meal and handicraft experience all guided by local people in the Wiwa community of Gotsezhy.

Since then, the community has benefited greatly from the opportunity to increase their economic income and is now able to invest in social programs such as garbage management, community gardens, improving access to drinking water, and education.

Women have had a greater entrepreneurial role by participating in selling their handicrafts and being part of the food experience, and youths are training as local guides sharing their culture and traditions.

Learn more here.

Dqae Qare San Lodge, Botswana

The San are the earliest inhabitants of Southern Africa, they currently number around 113,000 and are scattered across six countries in the area, with a large number residing in the Kalahari region of Botswana. 

With a grant from Planeterra, improvements to Dqae Qare San Lodge that would have taken five years to complete took only a matter of months. Additionally, with the D’kar community living on about 30 cents a day, the jobs provided at Dqae Qare are truly changing lives. One Dqae Qare employee is able to support a family of ten back in the village of D’Kar.

The revenue brought by connecting Dqae Qare San Lodge to a wider travel market, allows the Kuru Development Trust to invest more in their business, empower and employ more people from D’kar, and invest more into infrastructure and community projects like fresh water infrastructure and support for their preschool.

Learn more here.

Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, Canada 

The colonization of what is now known as Canada, compounded with the implementation of residential schools and the fracturing of families, alongside the flu and smallpox epidemics, led to the alteration or loss of much of the oral history important to the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations of the Whistler region. 

There exists a demand for a larger First Nations presence in the area, to ensure the ancient cultures of the Lil’wat and Squamish Nations are protected. Likewise, there is a great need for economic opportunities which will benefit youth who live on nearby reserves.

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre affords youth from reserves in the region transport for classes, and the opportunity to train in the hospitality industry through an on-site museum and cultural tours. 

Through its partnership with Planeterra and the connection to the travel market, the center can increase its visitor numbers, giving them more opportunities to expand its training base and available visitor activities.

Groups are able to visit the center to participate in activities such as a medicinal tea ceremony, bannock tasting, or a tour of the museum and grounds.

Learn more here. 

Parwa Community Restaurant, Peru

Parwa Restaurant is owned by the Huchuy Qosqo Association, a community-based tourism enterprise developed by Planeterra with co-financing from the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank Group.

All income earned by the restaurant is used for investment in social projects for the community, executing clean water projects, and even installing a computer lab for the community’s youth, directly benefitting more than 40 individuals. 

Also, the ingredients used in the restaurant are bought directly from the local farmers, providing a local market for direct sales. The employees at the restaurant have monthly salaries, health insurance, pension funds, and other labour benefits.

Over 25 micro-entrepreneurs received technical assistance and funds to establish new businesses to supply the Parwa restaurant or sell their goods to travellers who visit the Huchuy Qosco community.

Learn more here.

Shandia Lodge, Ecuador

The village of Shandia is located in the rainforest of eastern Ecuador. It is inhabited mostly by Indigenous people of the Kichwa nationality and was formerly an evangelical missionary center. The village currently consists of 120 families.

The community owns Shandia Lodge, which was developed with the purpose to generate employment opportunities, increasing collective self-esteem, and generating security, leadership, and management skills among the members of the community.

The community enterprise faced significant barriers to accessing the international market, and when they did, they risked losing their unique cultures and traditions. Also, the environment and wildlife needed to be protected with sustainable plans managed and led by locals.

Planeterra, in partnership with the local non-profit EcoCiencia, worked with the Shandia community to identify opportunities in tourism. Together, we developed new culturally immersive experiences, including a cycling tour and a community experience led by youth.

Travellers also have the opportunity to discover traditional agricultural practices and learn how to make chocolate.

Learn more here.

Barauli Community Homestay, Nepal

Barauli, home to the Tharu people, is a small Indigenous community near the Chitwan National Park in Nepal. The park is a popular tourism attraction that is well known for its wildlife but less known for the cultural value that it has to offer travellers. 

Due to its distance from the typical places of interest in the park, the Tharu residents were not able to access the economic benefits of tourism. Limited opportunities for community members led to engagement in illegal activities like poaching and deforestation in the park as a means of income diversification.

To overcome this, the community homestay program was developed by Royal Mountain Travel, our ground partner, to connect travellers coming for the park’s wildlife with the rich culture of the Tharu people. 

The village started with 14 individual cottages that are part of the homestay program, plus a community dining hall. The homestay project is completely run by Tharu women, providing diversified income opportunities in the region. Several different activities and livelihoods have been built out of this program, such as serving personnel and cooks, cooking class hosts, and local guides.

New homestays have opened up in the region to meet the increasing demand for travellers to have authentic community experiences while in Chitwan. 

The community saves a portion of all tourism profits to be reinvested into community development including environmental projects, scholarships for students and improving the tourism experience.

 

Learn more here.

These are only some of the great projects being developed and led by Indigenous communities worldwide. We celebrate these communities and the key role they play in the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge.

If you would like to support our work to help Indigenous-owned businesses recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and welcome travellers again, you can donate here.

Read more

Our Partners Welcome Travelers Once Again!

We are thrilled to see travelers visiting Planeterra partners and experiencing the joy of connecting with local communities through travel once again.

Over the past several weeks we have been receiving images and videos from our partners as they welcomed their first travelers since many had to shut down due to the pandemic.

Thanks to the support of our donors, we helped provide flexible grants to support and ensure several partners could be ready to once again welcome travelers and begin generating income for their communities.

The smiles on the faces of our partners and the travelers have been incredibly uplifting for our whole team. This is why we thought we would share and shine a spotlight on some of our partners who have begun welcoming travelers once more:

Salaam Baalak Trust – India

Salaam Baalak Trust is an Indian non-profit organization that provides safe housing, counselling, education, and support to over 5,000 children in New Delhi, as well as managing five safe homes across the city. They run a “City Walk” program, a youth-led walking tour that provides a different perspective on Delhi while allowing youth to gain new skills. 

Funds from the City Walk program are used to provide scholarships and job placements for youth, as well as resources for the shelters. By connecting the program to our tourism partners, they now have a reliable stream of income to support their education and social service work.

City Walk has not only given the youth a new set of skills but also helped boost their self-confidence by improving their communication skills and shaping their personality while interacting with tourists from across the globe.

Learn more here.

GoodWork Foundation_planeterra

The GoodWork Foundation – South Africa

The GoodWork Foundation (GWF) is located on the route to the Phabeni Gate of Kruger National Park. They aim to provide learning opportunities to rural and marginalized communities in Africa. To achieve this, they work with young people from the villages around Kruger National Park to help them develop business and barista skills as well as tourism and hospitality training. 

Travelers who visit the GWF Cafe on their way to the park enjoy a variety of hot coffee and macadamia-based snacks (Kruger National Park is also known for its macadamia, banana, and cashew farms). 

Learn more here. 

Thailand Hill-Tribes Trek – Mae Hong Son, Thailand

The Hilltribe trekking in Northern Thailand creates job opportunities for individuals in three communities Pha Mon (Red Lahu), Meung Pam (Red Karen), and Jabo (Black Lahu). This helps them to continue to stay in their home village, retaining culture, and preventing urban migration. 

Thanks to their community development plans, 10% of each tourism activity is invested in a wider community development fund. This fund benefits the greater communities’ needs such as the local school, and community environmental programs. The community can also use these funds to allocate loans to individuals looking to start their own businesses or to fund different emergencies.

Earlier this month, they hosted their first group of travelers since the pandemic started and we couldn’t be happier.

Learn more here. 

Osmose- Cambodia 

Osmose – Tonlé Sap Biosphere Reserve, Cambodia

Osmose is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the environmental preservation and the socio-economic development of the Prek Toal area, located in the Tonle Sap UNESCO Biosphere reserve.

Over the years, Osmose has developed more projects to support the local population to protect their incredible environment. One of the projects is their sustainable community tourism tours, accommodations, and handicrafts that work to support the conservation of the area. ⁠

A group of travelers recently visited the Saray water hyacinth handicraft workshop, where the village families fabricate and sell beautiful handicrafts made from dried water-hyacinth stems to supplement their incomes. They also learned how to make these handicrafts which is not only a great experience but also an opportunity to support this amazing project!

Learn more here.

Baracoa Community Tours, Baracoa – Cuba

We are very excited to see travelers enjoying the cultural immersion tour in Baracoa again. Planeterra has worked with the Baracoa Community to include visits to multiple family-owned micro-enterprises related to local cultural activities. Three villages are visited in this tour, resulting in 200 people being impacted by responsible tourism.⁠

When visiting the community, travelers have the opportunity to learn from local guides, participate in local living experiences and make some traditional delicacies. ⁠They can also purchase unique handicrafts as a souvenir, all supporting the women, men, and youth of Baracoa. 

Learn more here.

Puesta del Sol Association – Ometepe, Nicaragua

The Puesta del Sol Association is a community rural tourism initiative from the Community of La Palma in Nicaragua. Puesta del Sol has created new job opportunities which have strengthened the economy and quality of life of the community and they couldn’t be happier to host travelers!

The Association has created a community fund that allows them to provide scholarships, support the elderly and invest in community infrastructure (such as a local school, a local park, and others).

They have also developed a series of training programs related to tourism and new tourism initiatives. Planeterra helped introduce Puesta Del Sol to our tourism partners to help provide a steady stream of travelers. 

Learn more here.

Guneysinir Community Park – Guneysinir, Turkey

This almond plantation cooperative that doubles as a community park not only provides a source of shade and water retention but also a source of income – once the almonds can be harvested. Another added benefit is that it is becoming a place for families and visitors to enjoy together.

Planeterra provided the grant to plant the almond trees and has secured income for the community through corporate partners who bring travelers who visit the park and enjoy a snack made by a local family, supporting this budding social enterprise.

Learn more here.

 !Khwa ttu – Cape Town North, South Africa

!Khwa ttu is a San culture and education center based on a Nature Reserve near Cape Town. They have been one of our most resilient partners during the COVID-19 pandemic! They used our learning resources and pivoted their business by attracting more young local day travelers and campers. 

They cut out their biggest food supplier, a supermarket chain in South Africa, and started locally sourcing all their products. At the moment, they are working with over 30 local suppliers like gardeners and fishermen who are supplying fresh resources for their restaurant. And after a couple of rough years, they are stronger than ever!

Learn more here.

Read more

1 year of the Global Community Tourism Network

One year after launching the Global Community Tourism Network, Planeterra announces recipients of Global Community Tourism Fund.

It has been one year since we publicly launched the Global Community Tourism Network.  We started with 200 community tourism enterprises in the Network in 68 countries and have grown to over 387 communities across 76 countries in just one year. 

Through countless webinars, mentorship sessions, and peer to peer learning, we knew that we wanted to take our support one step further. 

In March 2022, we launched the Global Community Tourism Fund, a grant program that supports growth and recovery for community tourism enterprises within the Global Community Tourism Network (GCTN) through small grants and mentorship. We received many applications  from our community partners around the world and are excited to announce the recipients.

Each recipient will receive a flexible grant to support initiatives such as infrastructure upgrades, equipment purchases, marketing, training and more. Read more about the first projects supported by the fund below:

Lavender Jeep Siem Reap – Cambodia

Lavender Jeep is an adventure tour company providing curated tours of Siem Reap, Cambodia, in a 1975 A2 American Jeep. Lavender Jeep was founded to create employment opportunities for women and fund educational programming that primarily benefits young women and families. The staff members are shareholders in the company earning 30% of the profits on the tour.

A change in vehicle registration laws in Cambodia meant that funds were now required to register their jeeps. Without funds to cover this cost, Lavender Jeep had to decline tour bookings over the past months. Lavender Jeeps hasn’t had travellers since March 2020 and requested a grant to help get their drivers back on the road! With this grant, they are able to register and be able to receive travel bookings again!

Learn more here.

The Cove- Malawi

The Cove- Malawi

The Cove Ecolodge is a social enterprise in Chitende, Malawi. Their mission is to utilize money from tourism revenue to support community-driven development projects. They believe in fostering sustainable solutions through building relationships, working and learning together, and valuing their interactions with each other and the environment. A few of their development projects include road construction, water solutions, as well as community grants to young single mothers.

Chitende is a rural village in northern Malawi that is isolated from the government grid system for water and power. The ecolodge does not have access to water for their showers. Planeterra has distributed a grant to support the building of a piped water source in a central location in the community that will allow for 15 households to have access to cleaner, closer portable water. This piped water system will also allow the lodge to have water which will enable them to increase their customer base. 

Learn more here. 

Girls Empowered by Travel- Nepal

Girls Empowered by Travel- Nepal

Girls Empowered by Travel – Nepal (GET-Nepal) is a non-profit organization that provides safe opportunities for women to travel and get involved in community work in a welcoming and safe environment. Through travel and tourism, GET-Nepal aims to empower women, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, by engaging them in leadership building workshops, creating female change-makers, and providing opportunities for economic participation.

Throughout the last two years, the hiking trails in the local village have fallen into disrepair.  This hiking trail is needed in order to receive travellers as they will trek from the bus stop to the community. Through the Global Community Tourism Fund, we have sent a grant to support the community to re-open these trails in order to safely receive travellers in the coming months.

Learn more here. 

Redrocks Rwanda

Red Rocks Intercultural Exchange Center- Rwanda

Red Rocks brings under-served communities into the tourism supply chain and supports community development projects through their initiatives of cultural heritage conservation, visual and plastic arts (painting, drawing, sculpture, modeling, etc.), and graphic arts (painting, drawing, design, and other forms expressed on flat surfaces). Red Rocks also provides budget accommodation including a hostel room, an ample tranquil campsite in Red Rocks Intercultural Center, and Red Rocks Guest House to host visiting travellers. 

As a result of the pandemic and the lack of tourists visiting the area, many artisans and weavers have no markets to sell their crafts. Unfortunately, this has impacted women and youth more significantly.  Red Rocks requested funding to develop and implement a marketing plan to increase the number of visitors to seven local communities. The funds will support new audiovisual and promotional material, update their website, and train local leaders on marketing in the area. 

Learn more here.

Osmose- Cambodia 

Osmose- Cambodia 

Osmose is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the environmental preservation and the socio-economic development of the Prek Toal area, located in the Tonle Sap UNESCO Biosphere reserve. Osmose facilitates both the conservation of the Tonle Sap environment and the sustainable livelihoods of the floating village communities. The projects are based on income-generating activities, mainly visitor services including meal experience, homestay experience, guide service, peddle boat ride, and water hyacinth handicrafts. For this purpose, Osmose trains specialist guides to conduct eco-tours and created a community restaurant and some homestay services. Women in the community are trained in water hyacinth weaving and can sell their products for additional livelihoods. All these services are managed by a local cooperative supported by Osmose.

Osmose has created several floating structures: a Saray water hyacinth handicraft workshop, an environmental education school, and a community restaurant all connected by a floating bridge. Some of the bridges are currently in a poor condition. Income from ecotourism saved in the community box supported the maintenance, however, because of the COVID-19 crisis and the lack of visitors for nearly two years, there weren’t funds to support the repairs. Planeterra has sent a grant to support the renovation of the various platforms so that it is safer for staff and visitors to the area!

Learn more here.

Asociación de Turismo Rural Solidario ASTURS PERÚ- Perú

Asociación de Turismo Rural Solidario ASTURS PERÚ- Perú

Asociación de Turismo Rural Solidario ASTURS PERÚ is a community-led and owned organization representing 14 Indigenous families and impacting 70 community members. The association provides homestay experiences on Lake Titicaca, Perú. The experience benefits community members through capacity building and training on community tourism, and offering an alternative source of livelihood. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, community tourism activities have been hit hard, many local families lost income from tourism which was their major economic activity. 

Today tourism is restarting slowly, but the homestays need improvements to guarantee health and safety for travellers. Previously, homestay hosts used only piped water both for their consumption and to prepare food for travellers, however, new domestic health and safety restrictions require filtered water for guests.  Planeterra is helping support a new piped water system that will allow for 12 Indigenous households to have access to cleaner and potable water. This implementation will not only guarantee a quality service for travellers but also improve the health of the local community. 

Learn more here.

Red de Turismo comunitario Jipijapa Wankavilka- RED TCJW- Ecuador

Red de Turismo comunitario Jipijapa Wankavilka- RED TCJW- Ecuador

Red de Turismo comunitario Jipijapa Wankavilka is a community tourism network that is represented by 7 communities of the Manabí province, on the coast of Ecuador.  The organization works to empower their community through tourism, specifically women,  as well as to preserve local traditions, and protect their natural resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant loss of income for the communities, despite having the infrastructure and tourist attractions in the area. Currently, the lack of internet access, digital tools, and traveller awareness has been a significant barrier to the community. Planeterra is providing a grant to support the development of a marketing plan, including funding new audiovisual and promotional material, website support,  and training for local leaders on marketing initiatives. We hope this grant allows them to connect with travellers once again to support these communities. 

Learn more here.

Read more

Meet some of the local entrepreneurs in Río Abiseo, Peru

In Peru, community members have developed action plans to recover the local tourism industry and ensure that there will be even more benefits for the communities.

Santa Rosa Community, Rio Abiseo National Park_IUCN_Planeterra

As the tourism industry begins to recover, Planeterra is working around the world to ensure that more communities will have access to the positive impacts of the tourism industry as it returns! One of the ways we are doing this is through our partnership with IUCN in Peru.

Planeterra’s local team has identified local tourism entrepreneurs in protected areas looking to create new or improve existing tourism experiences.

When done sustainably, tourism in protected areas provides a way for community members and travellers to enjoy and celebrate the natural beauty of the lands, while increasing our overall well-being and connectedness to nature.

Meet some of the local entrepreneurs in World Heritage Site, Río Abiseo, in Peru who will be improving and developing their products with us over the coming months:

Clara del Águila Aspajo, Santa Rosa Community, Rio Abiseo National Park

Clara del Águila Aspajo-Santa Rosa Community, Rio Abiseo National Park-IUCN

Clara is an artisanal baker. Her bread is consumed daily by community members in Santa Rosa. She bakes using local ingredients, including flour, egg, oil, yeast and occasionally cheese.

Through the project, Clara and her family hope to offer their baked goods as an experience to visitors. To accomplish this, they will be working to diversify the types of bread they produce and how to turn the bread-making process into a fun experience. 

Clara hopes to showcase locally sourced ingredients with her bread, like cocoa, sausage and yucca. She also wants to show visitors the important role her bakery plays in community life in Santa Rosa!

Jerly Huaman Quispe, San Juan del Abiseo – Rio Abiseo National Park

Jerly Huaman Quispe_San Juan del Abiseo - Rio Abiseo National Park_IUCN_planeterra

Jerly wants to create an ecotourism product which highlights natural drinks made from medicinal barks from trees in San Juan del Abiseo.

In order to do this, Jerly is looking for support through the project on how to create a sustainable tourism experience that is aligned with conservation goals in his protected area. 

His location is accessible to the flow of visitors coming to Rio Abiseo. With the new experience, Jerly hopes more people will visit his community and see its natural beauty.

Sandro Sandoval Caballero, Pucallpillo Community, Rio Abiseo National Park

Sandro Sandoval Caballero_Pucallpillo Community, Rio Abiseo National Park_IUCN_Planeterra

Sandro is a cocoa farmer. He hopes to create an ecotourism experience that will allow visitors to understand the full cocoa production process. Visitors will learn about (and participate in!) planting, harvesting, post-harvest and marketing of cocoa.

Through the project, Sandro hopes to learn more about tourism, and how he can turn his cocoa production into a fun and educational experience for visitors to Pucallpillo.

The community currently sells cocoa products to the European market through their own community-based enterprise called “Choba Choba”.

Rodolfo Vargas Vásquez, Pizarro Community, Rio Abiseo National Park

Rodolfo Vargas Vásquez_Pizarro Community, Rio Abiseo National Park_IUCN_Planeterra

Rodolfo is a beekeeper and honey producer. He and his community hope to teach visitors about Meliponas (stingless bees), including a demonstration of how they take care of this special bee.

Breeding of Meliponas is a livelihood of community members. They aim to create an ecotourism experience that complements this livelihood without compromising the conservation of the species. 

A beekeeping tourism experience in Pizarro would be the first offered in the protected area and a special experience for any visitor.

In Peru, community members along with protected area site managers have developed Action Plans to recover the local tourism industry and ensure that there will be even more benefits for the local communities in the future!

These entrepreneurs will receive training on product development, marketing, and health and safety over the coming months to improve their overall products.

Read more

How we’re keeping communities at the center of tourism recovery in Vietnam

We were able to identify four villages with high community tourism and socio-economic impact potential for project intervention at Cuc Phuong National Park.

As a well-known destination in Southeast Asia, Vietnam has beautiful beaches, vibrant cities, diverse cultures, expansive coastlines, mountains, deltas and much more, attracting over 18 million international visitors in 2019.

These visitors contributed over US$ 33.1 million to Vietnam’s growing economy and made it one of the most popular countries to visit in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,  Vietnam’s economy has suffered greatly from the halt in tourism. In 2020, revenue from tourism decreased dramatically, generating only 42% compared to 2019.

This has had a substantial impact on the people and places once frequently visited by international guests.

Planeterra’s work with the IUCN aims to offer and grow the benefits of sustainable community tourism in response to the impacts of the pandemic.

The project targets community members who have suffered financial loss from COVID-19 and introduces community tourism as a way to make the industry more sustainable and beneficial for all people and nature, as tourism returns to Vietnam.

The project is focused on two protected areas in North Vietnam: Cuc Phuong National Park and Van Long Wetland Natural Reserve.

Introducing Cuc Phuong National Park

In January, Planeterra’s project team in Vietnam visited Cuc Phuong National Park for the first time to kick off the project activities. Established in 1962, Cuc Phuong is the oldest national park in Vietnam, showcasing an engaging cultural and wildlife heritage with enchanting scenery.

Covered in a dense forest, this landscape forms the habitat for some of Asia’s rarest animal and plant species, like the Delacour’s Langur (Trachipythecus delacouri), Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) and Vietorchis Aurea Aver Orchid.

The national park’s management board has done an amazing job in offering unique experiences with valuable knowledge in biodiversity conservation to both domestic and international visitors.

In 2020, the number of tourists visiting Cuc Phuong dropped by 50%. Subsequently, the number of visitors to communities around the park also decreased. In other villages with no prior tourism activities, people have also struggled to make ends meet.

Activities in Cuc Phuong over the past months

Working closely with IUCN and the management board of Cuc Phuong National Park, we were able to identify four villages with high community tourism and socio-economic impact potential for project intervention.

In order to better understand their situation, the Planeterra team first conducted a baseline survey of 185 community members.  Through this process, we learned that community members have a high interest to participate in tourism, but very limited exposure and access to the market.

The survey results provide a thorough understanding of how COVID-19 has impacted the communities’ livelihoods, their current tourism initiatives and their interest in engaging in community-based tourism.

Future project activities will be adapted to ensure that the interests of the local community are at the center of our work.

Planeterra is also working in Vietnam currently, and we will update you on that progress soon! We thank you and our entire community for supporting us and the communities we work with.

Stay tuned for our next activities in Van Long Nature Reserve!

Read more