Guest Post

Holiday generosity changing lives year after year

Written by Julia Pitcher – Communications and Development Coordinator, Planeterra

For the past several years, Planeterra has launched a fundraising campaign over the holidays to raise funds to uplift communities around the world. Without fail, Planeterra donors have answered our call for support. Particularly in these last few years, the Wish List Campaign became especially relevant during the global pandemic as several Planeterra community partners were struggling, but our donors played a crucial role in helping us transform these challenges into opportunities.

In 2020, during the height of uncertainty, our donors rallied for the Home For The Holidays Campaign. Their unwavering support became a lifeline for our community partners, such as the AidChild Leadership Institute in Uganda.

Without tourism income, their ability to care for HIV-positive orphans was suffering —until our supporters stepped in, ensuring these children had food and care during tumultuous times.

AidChild’s Café & Gallery Kayabwe (Equator), Uganda
Zoológico Magico-Planeterra
Cooperativa Zoológico Magico San Martin de Tilajate, Oaxaca, Mexico

The following year, in 2021, holiday donors reignited hope for communities who were preparing to partner with Planeterra pre-pandemic but had to put their dreams on hold. Take Zoológico Mágico, an Indigenous women-owned artisan cooperative in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Your generosity equipped these women with the tools they needed to preserve their cultural heritage. Turning their traditional skills into a sustainable livelihood while fighting against the commodification of Zapoteca crafts and culture. 

Then came 2022—a testament to the unwavering commitment of our holiday donors. Their generosity gave a path forward for community partners’ overwhelmed with the devastation of the pandemic. Like the Lusumpuko Women’s Club, with their equipment and sanitation systems deteriorating they had too much to overcome after years without an income.

With Planeterra donors by their side, the community tourism enterprise has not only been revived but it has thrived. They now welcome even more travelers, offering more employment opportunities for women while reinstating crucial community support initiatives.

From a burial fund for bereaved community members to providing meals for hospital patients in need, the ripple effects of your donations are being felt throughout the community at large. 

Lusumpuko Women’s Club
Lusumpuko Women’s Club Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Today, as we stand on the cusp of another holiday season and Planeterra’s 20th Anniversary, we couldn’t be more excited to focus once again on funding the future of community tourism.  

Community tourism doesn’t just provide much-needed income, it can seed opportunities, fuel dreams, and create a future where traditions flourish and communities thrive on their terms. As you’ve read, we can’t do it alone, we need everyone to join forces with Planeterra to empower, support, and connect communities to the resources they need to change their lives. 

We only have one wish this holiday season: 

We wish to strengthen community tourism around the world, so that economic opportunities are created, places are protected, and cultures are celebrated through travel.

Will you help us? – Donate today

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Nurturing Nature’s Jewel: The Vjosa Wild River National Park Community Tourism Initiative

Written by Blerina AgoEntrepreneur & Tourism consultant,

Greetings from the heart of the Vjosa River! I’m Blerina Ago, a passionate advocate for sustainable tourism, and I am excited to share with you the remarkable story of the Vjosa Wild River National Park (WRNP) Community Tourism developments with the significant support of Planeterra.

As I stand here by the pristine riverbanks, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, I can’t help but reflect on the transformative power of community-driven initiatives in the field of tourism.

Photo © : Blerina Ago enjoying the dramatic view of Vjosa Wild River National Park.

A Historic Promise for the Vjosa River

For over a decade, a dedicated coalition of environmental experts, tourism activists, organizations like IUCN, Patagonia, Riverwatch, Euronatur, and EcoAlbania, together with local communities, artists, media, and adventure enthusiasts, have tirelessly worked to protect the Vjosa River for future generations.

On March 2023, history was made. The Albanian Government declared the Vjosa River a National Park, marking it as Europe’s first Wild River National Park. This decision is more than a legal designation; it’s a promise to keep the Vjosa flowing freely, benefiting both people and nature for generations to come. It’s a testament to the unity of people and government in protecting this natural wonder.

A Journey to Remember

Photo © Adnan Beci: Blerina Ago enjoying the adrenaline rush in Vjosa Wild River National Park.

I’ll never forget the first time I met Vjosa. It happened on a rafting adventure more than one decade ago. It’s challenging to put into words the sheer rush of adrenaline and emotions I experienced that day. All I can say is that this one adventure changed the course of my life forever.

I was captivated by the river’s charm and the hospitality of the communities that call this area their home. These communities have always had a strong connection to the river, relying on its resources for their livelihoods. This connection is what ultimately sparked my interest in getting involved in community tourism as a way to protect and preserve this pristine environment while benefiting the local people.

Community Tourism:  A Real Game-Changer

Community tourism is more than just a buzzword; it’s a transformative approach that empowers local communities to take charge of their own destinies.

In the Vjosa WRNP, this concept has become a guiding light for sustainable development. It encourages the active participation of local residents in tourism activities, promoting the preservation of their cultural heritage and natural resources.

One of the most significant impacts of community tourism is the diversification of income sources for local communities.

Traditionally reliant on agriculture, forestry and fishing, the people of the Vjosa region are now finding new opportunities in tourism-related businesses. This not only improves their economic well-being but also allows them to stay connected to their land and traditions.

Now, let’s dive into why the Vjosa WRNP Community Tourism developments matter so much:

-Conservation and Awareness: This initiative brings visitors into close contact with the beauty and significance of the Vjosa River. It’s like turning them into eco-warriors who want to protect this natural gem. They become passionate advocates for conservation.

-Preserving Culture: The project places a strong emphasis on preserving the rich cultural heritage of the local communities. Tourists are encouraged to immerse themselves in local traditions, from traditional music and cuisine to handicrafts. This not only keeps these traditions alive but also helps local residents earn a living.

-Economic Diversification: Community tourism will open new doors for the locals, who traditionally depended on farming. Now, they’re finding new livelihoods in tourism-related businesses. This not only boosts their income but also lets them stay connected to their land and traditions.

-Empowerment and Ownership: The Vjosa WRNP community tourism initiatives empower local residents by giving them a say in their region’s development. They’re not just passive observers but active decision-makers, ensuring that tourism activities are sustainable and in harmony with their values.

-Preserving Natural Beauty: Sustainable tourism practices, like responsible rafting, biking, hiking and wildlife observation, ensure that the Vjosa River’s natural beauty stays unspoiled. This isn’t just great for the environment; it’s also crucial for the long-term success of tourism here.

-Education and Learning: Visitors don’t just come for the scenery; they come to learn about the Vjosa River’s unique ecological importance. This educational aspect makes them feel responsible for the environment, strengthening the river’s protection.

The Distinct Character of Albanians

But the Vjosa River isn’t the only gem in this region. Albania itself is a land of fascinating diversity and a unique character. The people, known for their warm hospitality, have a deep-rooted sense of identity and culture.

Albania’s cultural traditions are deeply rooted in its history and its people’s enduring spirit. From its distinctive polyphonic music, where multiple voices blend harmoniously, to its unique dances that reflect the country’s diverse regions, Albanian traditions are a testament to the resilience of its people.

Photo © Enjoying stories of Lord Byron visit in Tepelena told by the locals while tasting a handmade drink with fresh strawberries from the garden.

The age-old Albanian adage, “Buke e kripe e zemer,” meaning “Bread, salt, and a kind heart,” embodies the very essence of Albanian hospitality.

It speaks to the values of the nation’s spirit, which is rooted in the idea that all that one possesses, no matter how little, should be shared with guests who have honored their home with their presence.

Let me share with you the authentic cultural heritage of remarkable places,  where Vjosa WRNP flows as a living river:

Gjirokastra, often called the “City of Stone,” is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its well-preserved architecture is a testament to the rich history of this region. Strolling through its cobbled streets feels like stepping back in time. The locals are proud of their traditions, which include unique  “saze” music, dance, and culinary delights like gliko.

Here, you’ll find talented craftsmen creating exquisite hand-carved wooden and stone items, including furniture and decorative pieces, which often incorporate traditional motifs. In the nearly four-century-old reconstructed Characteristic Bazaar, traces of a tradition of working with wool, tapestries “sixhade”, embroidery, but also iron and wooden rosettes can be found. In this Bazaar, one of the city’s earliest crafts is also being cultivated, stone coffee.

Photo © Sunset to remember in Gjirokastra.

The road by car from Tepelena towards Vlora, through the deep canyons of Bënça, stops in authentic villages like Gusmar, Lekdush dhe Progonat, meeting with the local shepherds of the area, or visiting the impressive waterfall of Peshtura and encountering the crystal-clear waters of the Vjosa River tributary, the Shushica river, offers one of the most dramatic views of the valley. Vlora, a coastal gem, owns beautiful beaches, a rich maritime history, and a unique connection to the sea reflected in local life and cuisine.

It’s also historically significant as the birthplace of Albania’s independence in 1912. When you venture into this region of the Vjosa River, you’ll have the chance to explore the Zvërnec and Sazan islands, home to ancient monasteries, unwind on Orikum Beach, uncover the wild allure of Karaburun Island, and appreciate the rich biodiversity of the Narta Lagoon.

Photo © Idyllic campsite Lekdushi-Shehu, located in the middle of the Vjosa valley mountains, in an ideal setting for a total change of scenery.

Fier, on the other hand, is a city with a fascinating history dating back to ancient times. It’s home to some of the most impressive ancient ruins in Albania like Apollonia, which reveals its rich heritage through well-preserved archaeological ruins and captivating stories of the past.

As you stand amidst other well-preserved ruins of this historic city of Bylis, you’ll not only immerse yourself in Albania’s rich history but also be treated to an awe-inspiring vista of the Vjosa below.

Skilled artisans here craft pottery and ceramics using age-old techniques, often featuring intricate patterns and designs. These pieces serve as a beautiful testament to the city’s historical roots.

Photo © Amazing view of Vjosa WRNP from ancient Byllis Archaeological Park.

Korca, nestled in the southeastern part of Albania, intricately threads together a vibrant cultural mosaic. Known for its historic architecture and vibrant arts scene, Korca has managed to safeguard its traditions through the ages.

The city’s women, in particular, champion traditional craftsmanship, with a focus on weaving and embroidery. Their dedication underscores the vital role women play in preserving cultural heritage and traditions.

In Korca, community tourism serves as a conduit for the endurance and celebration of these traditions, connecting travelers to the city’s living cultural legacy.

Photo © Albanian Telegraphic Agency" (ATA): Artisanal woodwork skills are passed down through generations by the women of the Roma community in Korça.

The Vjosa WRNP Community Tourism developments represent a model of sustainable tourism that balances economic growth with environmental and cultural preservation.

This project is not just about attracting tourists; it’s about empowering local communities, preserving nature, and fostering a sense of responsibility for our planet.

As I stand here, watching the sun dip below the horizon, I am filled with hope for the future of the Vjosa River and its surrounding communities.

The journey from an unknown gem to a thriving community tourism destination is inspiring. It serves as a model of what is possible when local people, passionate environmental advocates, and responsible travelers come together for the greater good.

Photo © The Brati Bridge with 2 arches over the Vjosa tributary, Shushica

So, I invite you to experience the magic of the Vjosa WRNP and witness firsthand the incredible transformations happening here. Come and be a part of this inspiring journey towards a more sustainable and harmonious future for Vjosa and its people.

Remember, every visit, every story shared, and every choice you make as a traveler can make a difference.

Together, we can protect and empower the places we love, and the Vjosa WRNP is a shining example of what can be achieved when communities and tourists work hand in hand for a brighter, more sustainable future.

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Impacts that Last a Lifetime through Responsible Travel

Written by Chloe Friedland – International Development and Social Entrepreneurship student at McGill University.
I had the opportunity to speak with McGill Student and Travel Enthusiast Madeleine Loh, who has had numerous opportunities in the past to travel with G Adventures and visit Planeterra Partners. From what she told me, her travels with G have been a whirlwind of discovery and connection. Each trip, each visit to a Planeterra community partner, has been a step into a world that's as vibrant as the local markets and as warm as the welcoming smiles of the local peoples.

In Cambodia, India, and Vietnam, Maddie discovered the resilience of the human spirit. At New Hope, a vocational training restaurant in Cambodia, and City Walk in India, she saw how Planeterra partners empower individuals to rise from adversity, as the Partners’ outreach programs touch some of the poorest areas in the region, and gives people from those communities a renewed spirit through job opportunities and health care support.

Her favorite experience, however, was at Oodles of Noodles in Vietnam. Oodles of Noodles acts as a curriculum for youth to practice their English skills in order for them to succeed in the hospitality industry. The students lead a noodle-making class with travelers and teach them about the twenty-six different types of noodles available in Hoi An, Vietnam. Many of the students go on to work at large five-star hotels in Da Nang and neighboring cities. Through this experience, Madeleine learned that food is more than sustenance; it’s a cultural connector and a tool for change. And let’s be honest, who can resist a good noodle?

City Tour in India
A warm welcome in India

As Maddie journeyed to Nicaragua and Morocco, she experienced the power of community and the joy of cultural exchange. At Puesta Del Sol, a tourism cooperative in Nicaragua, she saw how tourism can support local economies and preserve cultural heritage. She saw first-hand how the creation of new job opportunities through Puesta Del Sol, profoundly uplifted the livelihood of the community.

In Morocco, through AFER HomLunch, an organization that empowers and develops the skills of rural women in Morocco through kitchen spaces and cooking training, Madeleine tasted authentic local cuisine and experienced the warmth of Moroccan hospitality. 

Madeleine also had the opportunity to journey to Tanzania and visit the Maasai Clean Cookstoves. Here, she saw the strength of women who build and sell clean cookstoves, improving health conditions and creating a sustainable income for themselves. 

These experiences deepened Madeleine’s understanding of the ways in which supporting women and creating job opportunities can have a ripple effect throughout an entire community, bolstering its economy and revitalizing its collective spirit. 

Madeleine’s travels with G Adventures and to Planeterra Partners have shown her the power and value of responsible tourism. They’ve demonstrated that when we travel with an open heart and a desire to connect, we can find common ground with people from all walks of life.

While Madeleine thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of her trips, she recounted how much her visits to Planeterra partners resonated with her, as these experiences brought her to the next level of immersion into the local cultures. By visiting Planeterra partners, Madeleine was truly able to connect with local communities and understand where their values are rooted. 

Madeleine on a Jeep in tour Kenya

She says “I have amazing memories of all my adventures with G Adventures, but my experiences visiting Planeterra partners will always hold a special place in my heart. When I visited these organizations I really felt like I gained a new perspective on their communities and now have a really deep appreciation for what they stand for.”  

When planning your next adventure, remember Madeleine’s insights and consider seeking out experiences that will allow you to truly immerse yourself in the local culture. Connect with local organizations, visit Planeterra Partners and other community projects, and embrace the customs and traditions of the places you visit. By doing so, you’ll not only enrich your own travel experience, but you will also contribute to the well-being and preservation of the communities you encounter along the way. 

Chloe Friedland

About the author:

My name is  Chloe Friedland, I’m a fourth-year student at McGill University, studying International Development and Social Entrepreneurship. I have a passion for travel because I love the way it can foster new perspectives. I am very interested in the Responsible Tourism Industry as I am committed to creating a positive impact for both communities around the world and the environment.

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Sustainable Tourism: Dispelling Myths and Uncovering Facts

Written by Deeksha Sharma – Founder and Writer at YouInVerse. 
Growing up as a child, I always noticed the little things that my mother did at home. The word ‘little’ actually sounds little but these little things create huge impacts. From recycling the fruits and vegetable peels, to saving and reusing water from the R.O. or water purifier. From using plastic bottles to make her beautiful flower pots, her every small action was contributing towards a sustainable planet.

Unsurprisingly, I started celebrating sustainability from a very young age. Not only this, I have been a travel enthusiast since childhood too. Travelling has been a significant factor in shaping the way I think in life. The more I travel the world, the more I realize how similar we are despite our differences.

In today’s ever-changing world, sustainable travel is becoming a force for the good. However, there are many myths and misconceptions about what sustainable tourism is and what it is not. First, let’s define what is meant by sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism is defined by the UN Environment Program and UN World Tourism Organization as “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.”

Debunking myths and uncovering facts are essential for promoting accurate knowledge and advancing both individual and collective well-being. Let me share five myths and facts about sustainable tourism.

Myth 1: Sustainable tourism is ONLY about protecting the environment

Fact: Needless to say, environmental conservation is a significant aspect of sustainable tourism, however, it’s not the only one that should be prioritized. It is also about supporting local communities, preserving cultural heritage, and ensuring that economic benefits reach the local communities such that they get a fair share of their contributions.

Myth 2: One person can never make any difference in sustainable tourism

This is one of the biggest myths of all time. Every traveler can make a positive impact by making small yet responsible choices. These include – supporting small-scale local businesses, reducing plastic and other waste, mindfully spending on tourism activities, conserving natural resources, and respecting local cultures. Even a small action can create a global impact. When more people act as responsible travelers, the collective impact is significant.

Myth 3: Sustainable tourism is for the rich and wealthy

Fact: Sustainable tourism caters to all pockets. It can be affordable and accessible to travelers with diverse budgets. You can immerse yourself in eco-friendly accommodations or luxury hotels that prioritize sustainability. You can choose to travel by public transport or private transport with lower emissions. Sustainable tourism is for everyone.

Myth 4: Sustainable tourism only caters to the nature lovers

Fact: Sustainable tourism is for everyone, and you don’t need to be in a forest or a beach to enjoy it. You can immerse in sustainable tourism experiences even in cities, museums, luxury resorts, or remote villages.

Myth 5: Sustainable traveling restricts your experiences

Fact:  Sustainable travelling never restricts anyone’s experiences. Interestingly, it can surely enhance your travel journeys by connecting you with local cultures, traditions, and authentic experiences. Sustainable tourism offers what mass tourism often overlooks.

Sustainable tourism is about making conscious choices that prioritize the well-being of all – environment, people and communities. Banishing the myths can help promote a greater and much better understanding of the significance of sustainable tourism. It’s time that we take only memories and leave only footprints. When our planet does so much for us, what are you doing to keep this planet sustainable?

Deeksha Sharma — Founder and Writer at YouInVerse

About the author:

Deeksha (she/her) is an international development sector professional with a keen focus on sustainable travelling and storytelling. She is passionate about finding creative ways to lead social change and making a positive contribution to both global and local communities. In her award-winning blog, YouInVerse, she creatively covers stories of travel, culture, sustainability and well-being from India and around the world. She strongly believes that there are stories everywhere and we should keep discovering the ones that inspire us to be better humans. Deeksha is a travel enthusiast and a passionate writer who believes in the power of storytelling for a peaceful and more compassionate world. She enjoys long walks, stargazing, reading and writing poetry, and will be delighted to have you visit her blog and read some stories.

Follow Deeksha on LinkedIn!

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Responsible Travel for a Better Future

Written by Aayusha Prasain – CEO, Community Homestay Network
Responsible travel emphasizes respect for local communities, cultures, and the environment while exploring new destinations. It encourages travelers to make conscious choices that have a positive impact, such as supporting local businesses, minimizing their carbon footprint, and preserving natural and cultural heritage.

By practicing responsible travel, individuals can contribute to sustainable development, foster cross-cultural understanding, and leave a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy. However, with the looming threat of climate change, having a better sustainable future for the next generations seems uncertain. 

Nevertheless, it is just not enough to be uncertain, having an action to mitigate it is very important. When we encounter terms like climate action and biodiversity crisis, we often come across complex concepts that may be challenging for the general public to comprehend. However, it is crucial for everyone to understand and address climate action since it is a shared responsibility that affects each and every one of us. 

Strengthening Community Tourism

In an effort to promote community tourism and address pressing environmental issues, Planeterra, a pioneer in community tourism, organized a peer-to-peer learning workshop for its Nepal partners.

The workshop aimed to facilitate discussions on climate action, the biodiversity crisis, and the importance of local solutions. As part of its commitment to supporting community tourism enterprises, Planeterra established the Global Community Tourism Network (GCTN) during the pandemic, with the goal of breaking down barriers in the tourism marketplace and enhancing the capacity, quality, and accessibility of community tourism worldwide.

Recognizing that addressing climate action requires collective efforts, we, Community Homestay Network (CHN) as a strategic partner of the GCTN here in Nepal joined forces to co-plan and co-execute the workshop, held on June 27, 2023.

The session aimed to foster engagement and knowledge-sharing among various stakeholders in Nepal, while promoting best practices in community tourism and addressing the urgent challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.

During the session, participants from different community-based tourism enterprises such as Social Tours, Hands on Institute, Girls Empowered by Travel, Nagarkot Community Homestay, Kirtipur Community Homestay, Panauti Community Homestay and Panuati Bike Station had the opportunity to learn and share about successful models of community-based tourism. They delved into topics such as how to effectively run a community-based tourism experience and understand its wide-ranging impacts and ripple effects.

The discussion emphasized the role of community tourism in addressing the ongoing climate action and biodiversity crisis. By adopting sustainable practices, community tourism can become a catalyst for positive change, promoting responsible travel and mitigating environmental impacts.

The discussion was further facilitated by a collaborative learning and problem-solving process where participants were engaged in a workshop. The workshop also explored the role of the GCTN in mitigating these challenges.

By fostering engagement and providing a platform for knowledge-sharing, the GCTN can contribute to the growth and sustainability of responsible and ethical travel. The partnership between the GCTN and CHN presents an exciting opportunity to harness the power of community-based tourism in addressing the ways to build responsible travel and work on climate action and biodiversity crisis.

Through meaningful engagement and the sharing of best practices, this collaboration aims to promote responsible and sustainable tourism models that benefit local communities and the environment.

Fostering Collaboration and Sharing Best Practices

The session served as a crucial step towards a more responsible and inclusive tourism industry, where community-based initiatives hold significant importance in shaping a positive future for both travelers and local communities.

The best practices for reducing single-use plastics were shared by the communities while the importance of switching to renewable sources of energy was also discussed. The discussions highlighted that these changes not only contribute to making one destination cleaner and greener but also raise awareness among travelers, encouraging responsible behavior in other locations.

The dynamic conversations and collaborative atmosphere allowed all partners to connect and establish relationships for future joint collaborations. As an organization committed to providing community-based tourism experiences that directly benefit local communities through homestays, this platform provided a valuable opportunity for us to exchange ideas with like-minded initiatives and organizations.

We anticipate that this gathering will foster long-term collaboration and contribute to the promotion of responsible tourism practices in Nepal.

Aayusha Prasain, CEO- Community Homestay Network

About the author:

As the CEO of Community Homestay Network (CHN), Aayusha is working towards strengthening the organization while streamlining and scaling the impact of tourism across communities. Along with her team at CHN, she also works towards bringing local actors into the tourism value chain and promoting responsible and inclusive tourism. 

Visit to learn more about CHN’s work.

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Traveling off the beaten path with Sharing Seeds in Sarangkot Pandeli

Written by Eliane – Student Researcher from Sharing Seeds
Traveling sustainably and responsibly has been trending within the past few years. An awareness regarding cultural loss and increasing levels of pollution due to mainstream tourism has been raised and tour operators as well as travelers are longing for a change. But how can one travel sustainably?

One option to do so can be found in Sarangkot Pandeli the beautiful village near the tourism capital of Nepal, Pokhara City which is a gateway to the world-famous Annapurna conservation region.  

Sarangkot, a small village close to Pokhara, Nepal, is known for its beautiful sunsets and the view over Pokhara and Phewa Lake. However, if you look beyond the well-known sights and mainstream tourist spots, you can learn much more about the community, culture and the production of local products. 

Explore Evenmore Tour and Travels, in partnership with not-for-profit Sharing Seeds, aims to promote sustainable tourism in this area by focusing on guiding visitors off the mainstream routes and towards the local communities.

Knowing what is best for the community, Aabiskar Thapa, Founder and Managing Director of  Sharing Seeds, and his team run three projects that concentrate on the production of local products, like coffee and honey and work to help women gain independence in their communities. 

More information on some of Sharing Seeds’ Projects:

Organic Arabica Coffee Farming Project: 

  • Goal: Sustainable, local production of coffee; creating job opportunities 
  • How: Providing training and support to local farmers in coffee production 
  • Progress: 600 coffee tree plantations have already been planted in cooperation with 95 farmers


Recyclable Handicraft Project: 

  • Goal To empower local women to achieve financial independence
  • How: Providing basic sewing training for women
  • Progress: 40 women have already been trained through the program 


Organic Bee Farming Project:

  • Goal: Sustainable honey production 
  • How: Explain the importance of the role of bees to farmers   
  • Progress: 70 bee hives have been installed in cooperation with 5 bee farmers

In collaboration, Explore Evenmore Tour and Travels and Sharing Seeds developed a tour that combines hiking with learning to create added value for the visitors as well as the community in Sarangkot. The popular tour Secrets of Sarangkot: Arabica Coffee experience and local life guides the visitors along the beautiful Phewa Lakeshore, through the community jungle and stops at every project.

While visiting the projects the visitors get in-depth insights into the local life and working processes of local products while enjoying the beautiful landscape all along Pokhara. Through observation and conversations with locals, the visitors are immersed in the Nepalese culture and understand the impact that local organizations have on these communities. Furthermore, there is added value for the community through the exchange of knowledge with the tourists which helps to contribute to sustainable development in Nepal.

To sum up, Explore Evenmore Tour and Travels, in collaboration with Sharing Seeds,  offers a unique experience to visitors while raising awareness about the local culture, food and products and the importance of maintaining them. 

There is also added value for the community through the exchange of knowledge with the tourists which helps contribute to sustainable development in Nepal.

Sharing Seeds - Bee station

About Sharing Seeds:

Sharing Seeds is a not-for-profit social enterprise whose mission is to empower local farmers by providing knowledge and resources to cultivate organic Arabica coffee and practice organic beekeeping.

Visit to learn more about their inspiring work.

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Sustainable Travel Close to Home

Written by Ainsley Lawrence
Sustainability is more than just a hot topic of conversation these days. According to a recent Nielsen study, 78% of U.S. consumers say a sustainable lifestyle is important to them. Reducing waste, using less energy, and recycling are all important. They are also easy habits that people can incorporate into their everyday lives.

Unfortunately, travel and sustainability don’t often go hand-in-hand. We tend to think of things like carbon emissions from cars and planes, the waste produced by traveling, and the people involved that are creating even more pollution simply by having to go to work each day. 

But sustainable travel is possible, especially when you choose to stay close to home. Whether you have a travel bug or you want to take a family vacation while doing something good for the planet, you can use a few effective sustainable techniques to keep things “green” while you hit the road. 

Let’s take a look at a few of those tips and tricks, so you can enjoy your next trip in this post-pandemic society. 

Cutting Down on Emissions

While traveling via car already creates fewer emissions than traveling by plane, there are still things you can do to cut down on your carbon use while you hit the road. 

First, before you leave on your trip, make sure your vehicle is in top shape. Things like maintaining proper tire pressure, making sure the engine is tuned up, and fixing any other mechanical issues in your vehicle will help to ensure it produces as little pollution as possible. 

While you’re driving, you can also reduce pollution and travel more sustainably by: 

  • Minimizing travel items;
  • Developing a strategy so you can drive the most efficient route;
  • Carpooling;
  • Towing a trailer instead of overloading your car.

Drive slower and smarter while you’re on the road. If you’re not in a hurry, don’t keep your foot glued to the gas pedal. Frequent acceleration not only burns more fuel, but it creates more emissions. Instead, go at a leisurely pace. You’ll get more out of your gas tank and release less pollution into the air. 

You can also choose to live more sustainably on the road. Try to avoid using plastic products. Eat locally. Don’t leave any pollution behind if you stay overnight somewhere, and limit your water usage. These small actions can add up quickly, especially if you travel a lot, and they can really help to give back to the environment.

Getting Back to Nature

Traveling by car to tourist areas and famous sites can be fun, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t enjoy those special attractions with your family or friends. But, one of the best options for sustainable travel, especially close to home, is to get back to nature and go camping. 

Spending time in nature is also a great way to gain a greater appreciation for the outdoor world, and it can also do wonders for your mental health. In fact, doctors are writing prescriptions for nature, as outside time has been demonstrated to lower stress while increasing physical activity. 

No matter where you live, there’s likely a national park or campsite nearby. You won’t have to travel far to get there, and you can enjoy a more sustainable time away from home than you would if you went to a typical tourist trap. Plus, getting back to nature allows you to immerse yourself in local culture. Even if you only travel a few hours away from home, you’ll be able to experience new and exciting scenery, people, and ways of life. 

If you haven’t traveled much since the COVID-19 pandemic, spending time away from typical tourist sites can help you ease back into it. Camping can provide a lot of solitude and relaxation, and help you to appreciate the freedom you have to travel across the country while preserving its natural beauty. 

If you want to be an eco-friendly camper, buying organic food, ditching plastic water bottles, bringing reusable dishes, and only camping in designated areas can help. It’s a great way to feel more at home with nature, and a wonderful opportunity to teach your family about the importance of conservation and sustainability. While camping isn’t for everyone, it’s something you should try at least once! You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it, and how easy it is to give back to nature when you’re surrounded by its splendor. 

Offsetting at Home

Finally, when you’re not on vacation or taking a road trip, make sure you’re living sustainably at home. Many companies – including airlines – use a practice called offsetting. It’s a way to do something good for the planet to counteract some of the harmful or negative effects of traveling. 

For example, Delta Airlines has been investing in carbon offsets since 2012 and has a goal of carbon neutrality, so you can feel good about flying without harming the planet in the process. 

At home, you can carbon offset by donating to environmental protection organizations or sustainability groups. You can promote awareness of climate change and excess waste. Most importantly, you can implement daily habits that help to promote sustainability within your household, including: 

  • Using less water;
  • Installing energy-efficient appliances;
  • Recycling;
  • Composting;
  • Switching to LED lighting.


Traveling close to home is a great way to scratch that itch to go somewhere new without doing harm to the environment. Keep these sustainable practices in mind for your next road trip, and you’ll be able to make the most out of the time away from home. 

About the author:

Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer that lives in the Northwest region of the United States. She has a particular interest in covering topics related to travel, sustainability, tech, and accessibility. When not writing, her free time is spent reading and researching to learn more about her cultural and environmental surroundings.

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From Tradition to Tech: Women Driving Change in Community Tourism

Written by Zoë Woods
Women are using technology to connect, communicate, and proudly embrace their diverse cultural heritage.

In today’s digital age, Internet platforms offer a vibrant space for women to share their inspiring narratives with the world and display their traditional arts and crafts.

In community tourism, technology acts as a catalyst for women’s empowerment, opening doors to economic and social success. Women are harnessing the power of technology to bridge divides, encourage inclusion, and honour their cultural heritage through the harmonious integration of tradition and innovation.

Asociación de Mujeres Artesanas Zoológico Mágico San Martin de Tilcajete, Oaxaca, Mexico
Keeping Cultural Heritage Safe

Digital platforms have opened up new avenues for communities to showcase their rich cultural tapestry. From websites and social media to virtual reality experiences, these platforms attract tourists in search of authentic encounters. Women play a pivotal role in curating these digital offerings, serving as the custodians of cultural heritage and ensuring that their traditions are appropriately portrayed and preserved.

In addition, women are creating spaces that foster intercultural dialogue. Through online forums, storytelling platforms, and video conferencing, women from diverse cultures come together to interact, exchange ideas, and collaborate on community tourism initiatives. These virtual connections not only facilitate cross-cultural bonds but also promote mutual understanding and appreciation of different cultures.

Developing Women's Digital Literacy

Women who possess digital literacy skills are better equipped to navigate the modern landscape and drive meaningful change. Recognizing the importance of empowering women in rural areas and assisting them in utilizing technology for their economic and social growth, several organizations and projects have emerged to provide training and resources. provide training and resources. Through digital literacy programs, women gain essential skills such as internet marketing, e-commerce, and social media management, allowing them to showcase their community tourism projects to a wider audience.

Aside from teaching technical skills, these programs often equip women with the tools they need to excel in leadership, entrepreneurship, and financial management. Women take on leadership roles in their communities, taking charge of tourism initiatives, planning events, and encouraging community cooperation.

Technology, a Bridge to Economic Opportunities

Technology acts as a bridge, opening up new revenue streams and connecting women engaged in community tourism to a broader market. With the rise of internet platforms such as marketplaces and booking sites, women now have the ability to market and sell their local tourism services to customers worldwide. By cutting out intermediaries, this direct link enables women to maximize their earnings, contribute to their communities, and improve their quality of life

Moreover, women are using technology to diversify their sources of income. Through online marketplaces, they can showcase and promote genuine handicrafts, locally sourced products, and unique experiences. By doing so, they not only preserve traditional crafts but also generate income and establish sustainable livelihoods for themselves and fellow community members. Technology enables women to reach customers beyond their local markets and transform their community tourism enterprises into thriving ventures.

Overcoming Obstacles

Despite the tremendous benefits provided by technology, women working in community tourism still face various challenges. Limited access, inadequate infrastructure, and cultural constraints can hinder women who aspire to embrace technology. Recognizing these obstacles, several programs and organizations are diligently working to bridge the digital divide. They provide women with the necessary infrastructure, support systems, and training to thrive in the digital era.

Furthermore, cultural norms and gender stereotypes may restrict women’s participation in leadership positions and decision-making processes within community tourism. Technology-based solutions alone won’t solve these problems; societal and cultural changes are also imperative.

In order to challenge and eliminate gender barriers and create an inclusive atmosphere where women can contribute fully to the growth of community tourism, initiatives focused on women’s empowerment, lobbying campaigns, and regulatory reforms are essential.

Final thoughts

As we recognize the extraordinary achievements made by these women, it is crucial to support their ongoing efforts by giving them the tools and platforms needed to elevate their voices and build a more inclusive and successful future for community tourism globally. 


About the author:

Zoë Woods is enthusiastic about empowering women in the tech industry.

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Weaving a new Future: How Tourism has Empowered Indigenous Women in Peru

Written by Serena Hejazi
Deep in the Andes Mountains of Peru lies the village of Ccaccaccollo, home to a group of Indigenous women who have found empowerment through tourism.

The women of Ccaccaccollo belong to a Quechua community, which has lived in the Andes for thousands of years. They are skilled weavers, creating beautiful textiles using the traditional techniques passed down through generations. Despite their rich cultural heritage, many of these women have struggled with poverty, lack of education, and discrimination.

Until recently, the market for their products was limited, and they struggled to earn a decent living. In the early 2000s, a group of local women with the help of Planeterra formed the Ccaccaccollo Women’s Weaving Co-op to promote their work and improve their economic prospects. 

The cooperative called “Awamaki” which means “handmade” in Quechua, also provides training and support for other indigenous women to develop their skills, market their products, and manage their finances: it’s all about women supporting other women! 

Tourism has been a game-changer for the women of Ccaccaccollo. The village has become a popular destination for tourists seeking an authentic Andean experience. Visitors can learn about the Quechua culture, watch the women weave their textiles, and even participate in traditional ceremonies and of course you can also purchase their products.


It’s safe to say that the women of Ccaccaccollo have been able to improve their economic situation and they now have a stable source of income and can provide for their families thanks to tourism. 

They have also gained a sense of pride in their cultural heritage, which they are now able to share with visitors from around the world.

But tourism has not only helped the women of Ccaccaccollo economically, it has also helped to preserve their traditional way of life. The women have been able to continue weaving using the traditional techniques and materials, which have been passed down through generations. 

They have also been able to maintain their language and culture, passing it on to their children and grandchildren.

The success of the Ccaccaccollo Women’s Weaving Association is an inspiring example of how tourism can be a force for good in indigenous communities. By providing a market for traditional products and cultural experiences, tourism had a positive impact in the lives of dozens of people. 

If you are planning a trip to Peru, consider visiting Ccaccaccollo and supporting the women of Awamaki. You can purchase their beautiful textiles and learn about their rich cultural heritage. By doing so, you will not only have a unique travel experience but also make a positive impact on the lives of these remarkable women.

Serena Hejazi

About the author:

Serena Hejazi is a passionate traveler and the author of Sere Travels, a blog that focuses on sustainable tourism. Visit to learn more about Serena’s travels. 

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Unfolding Nepalese Women’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Written by Aayusha Prasain, CEO, of Community Homestay Network
Despite various challenges women in Nepal face, travel and tourism provide them with more opportunities for empowerment and entrepreneurship than any other industry, giving the sector increased responsibility for the advancement of women.

When we hear the word entrepreneurship attached to women in Nepal, the first thing that comes to mind is all the barriers they might have to overcome while pursuing, scaling and sustaining it. These are not just ideas that come to us subconsciously; access to resources and opportunities for women due to the patriarchal structure of society plays a vital role in shaping these thoughts. 

Although women make up 51.04% of the population in Nepal (Census Nepal, 2021), they are not considered equal workers in the economy. Sadly, women tend to be marginalized and discriminated against for access to education, employment opportunities, and property ownership. In addition, the legal framework and policies also affect the control of productive resources like land, forest, credit, and technology. 

According to Nepal’s 2011 census, only 19.71 % of women have asset ownership. Women in Nepal are often associated with subsistence agriculture or work with a huge pay gap. My experiences of working with the communities and the different studies have shown women facing difficulties rising above from the subsistence or lower-paying jobs to high-productivity sectors. 

Women are also disadvantaged because they tend to have inadequate time managing both the demands of their business with domestic tasks – and have lower literacy levels, particularly in developing countries like ours. Along with these challenges, the attitude towards working women creates more obstacles, and as a result, there are few successful women entrepreneurs in developing countries. 

The question is, how do we change that?

According to the UN Global Report on Women and Tourism 2010 by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and UN Women, tourism also promotes women’s leadership more than other sectors of the economy. 

Since its establishment, Community Homestay Network has been one of the social enterprises in Nepal that encourages local women to take the lead in managing their enterprises (community homestays) while offering authentic experiences to travellers. 

Testimonies from the women running community homestays have shared that one of the benefits of interacting with travellers has been learning about different cultures. While they also emphasize the importance of paid work and their contribution to their families well-being, many women entrepreneurs within our network often mention gaining confidence through interactions with travellers. 

Women hosting travellers Panauti Community Homestay, Nepal

They have stated that running homestays have made them more aware of the hygiene and cleanliness of their homes and the surroundings. The hosts of Panauti Community Homestay, the first women-run Community Homestay of Nepal and the flagship product of Community Homestay Network, often express that the economic gain has helped almost every women entrepreneur in their community to strengthen their social networking skills as well as amplified their voices towards community development as a whole. 

Networking plays a crucial role in entrepreneurship. Compared to men, women in traditional societies have less advantage in building networks resulting in limited information about markets and NGOs or government organizations’ support mechanisms. This is probably caused by restrictions on women’s freedom of movement in the public sphere. In such cases, women with strong family support participated actively in requesting additional assistance from the organization, as well as demonstrated leadership abilities.

Another challenge women in (the rural areas of) Nepal face is the lack of access to credit and financial services. This often limits them to start and expand their businesses and also, according to Bushell (2008), creates a dependency on their male counterparts. 

We have been working with hosts of community homestays (mostly women) within our network to have bank accounts in their name to overcome such challenges. Along with our impact partners like ICIMOD and Planeterra, we are actively trying to encourage women entrepreneurs to break the biases. 

In Barauli, we were proactively engaged to establish the bank accounts in women’s names, although this created friction at the beginning due to the conservative mindsets of a few locals. Proper communication and opportunities that could be created through financial independence paved the way for change. 

Walking through the villages in Barauli Barauli Community Homestay, Nepal

As empowerment means different to different women, we should not try to put women in the same basket while unfolding women’s entrepreneurship. 

For some, it might be interacting with the travellers, but for some having a separate bank account, though shy to interact with outsiders, might be the first step to building confidence. In this sense, tourism has also provided women in developing countries the chance to engage themselves where they would not be directly forced into moving out of their houses to start something new to prove the notion of empowerment and success. 

Running community homestays has also helped them use the skills and knowledge (household management) that they have been doing for years to manage the enterprise. This would build confidence in women and help them receive direct financial benefits. 

Despite advancements for women, the tourism industry cannot blindside the persisting inequality inside its sector. Women are paid less, engage in work that receives less money, and are underrepresented in certain tourism occupations and management levels. The issue of overtaking the enterprise once it is successful has also been one of the bottlenecks for women to foster in their entrepreneurial journeys. 

Although the legal registration of the enterprise is in the woman’s name, there is also a tendency to take over the enterprise when it starts to become more successful. Regarding this phenomenon, Brenda Bushell, in one of her studies, has cited women as surrogate entrepreneurs.  

For the economic development of any country, the government, private sector and other relevant stakeholders cannot just capitalize on half of its human potential. Various studies show that organizations that include women on their boards or as decision-makers have their staff performing better in terms of profitability, creativity, and sustainability. Hence, the prospect of a gender-equal society as a whole is promising. 

As a social enterprise, we are doing our bit to change the overall entrepreneurial environment for women. Still, meaningful partnerships among and between relevant stakeholders play a crucial role to develop and strengthen women’s entrepreneurship and leadership.

Aayusha Prasain, CEO- Community Homestay Network

About the author:

As the CEO of Community Homestay Network (CHN), Aayusha is working towards strengthening the organization while streamlining and scaling the impact of tourism across communities. Along with her team at CHN, she also works towards bringing local actors into the tourism value chain and promoting responsible and inclusive tourism. 

Visit to learn more about CHN’s work.

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