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Empowering Communities, Restoring Nature: Planeterra’s Impactful Initiatives

Written by Thomas Armitt – Global Manager, Projects & Partnerships, Planeterra

From the air we breathe to the food we rely on, biodiversity is essential for life on Earth. Moreover, without biodiversity, tourism simply would not exist, and communities around the world would not be able to harness its benefits.

It is no secret that biodiversity is sadly under threat, but we don’t want to dive into that. Instead, we want to take action and play our part, doing what we do best: using tourism to change lives.

Planeterra believes that community tourism can be a powerful tool to help address the climate and biodiversity crisis. So, in today’s blog, we’ll explore three game-changing initiatives that allow us to support the work that communities around the world are doing to protect, restore, and manage their environment. Let’s get into it!

Soa Zara Ranohira, Madagascar

Innovating for Change: Climate & Biodiversity Initiative

Picture this: communities partnering up with tourism enterprises to tackle the impacts of climate change. That’s the essence of Planeterra’s Climate & Biodiversity Initiative.

Through this initiative, we’re not just looking to offset carbon footprints; we want to develop grassroots solutions that make a long-lasting, tangible impact. For this, we’re working hand-in-hand with our community partners to create life-changing experiences that can be woven into the fabric of tourism.

Imagine trekking through lush forests, guided by a community member who intimately understands the land. The aim of these experiences is for travellers to go beyond just being visitors to a place, and instead become participants in something much larger—a movement toward a more positive future for all.

Rooted in Resilience: Tree Growing Initiative

Communities at the forefront of climate change often face its impacts most severely and disproportionately. That’s where Planeterra’s Tree Growing Initiative comes in. Our mission with this initiative is simple yet powerful: “Growing Trees to Uplift Communities.”

We see trees as more than just symbols of biodiversity regeneration; they’re lifelines for communities facing uncertain futures. This is evident through the many benefits of growing trees: healthier ecosystems, food security, water security, and improved defences against soil erosion, flooding, and drought.

At Planeterra, we believe that by planting the right trees in the right places and for the right reasons, we can help communities build sustainable livelihoods, improve their well-being, and become more resilient to the growing impacts of climate change.

It’s a win-win situation that positively impacts both people and the planet. 

We’re immensely proud to say that, to date, we’ve grown over 2 million trees in partnership with G Adventures and Flight Centre, and we collaborate with Reforest to monitor our progress and achievements with this initiative.

Nature-Positive Tourism: Investing in Communities

Nature-positive community tourism is not just about minimizing harm; it’s about actively investing in the well-being of Indigenous communities and the environments they call home.

Through this initiative, Planeterra is working alongside communities to help them integrate a nature-positive approach to the experiences they offer. From protecting animal welfare to reconnecting people with nature, every aspect of these experiences is designed to leave a positive impact.

The goal is to uplift communities and help travellers become stewards of the environment and advocates for social justice, forging meaningful connections and leaving a legacy of positive change.

So, What Can You Do to Get Involved?

As travellers, we hold immense responsibility and our choices matter. Let’s choose our adventures wisely! Opt for trips that prioritize responsible travel and uplifting communities. If you need advice on that, get in touch with Planeterra! We’re happy to support you on your journey to becoming a more responsible traveller.

Also, spread the word about Planeterra’s initiatives and the impact we’re creating and working to amplify. But most importantly, take action in your own life to reduce your impact on nature and guarantee a thriving planet for future generations. 

Remember that the only way to protect and restore biodiversity is by working together and playing our part.

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Pack Light, Travel Far: Sustainable Packing Solutions for Eco-Conscious Travellers

Written by Ainsley Lawrence
Wise Greece Athens, Greece

The thought of arriving at a final destination without your bags sends most travellers into a cold sweat. It’s simply undeniable that the stuff we travel with plays a critical role in shaping trip experiences. 

For this reason, intentionality is key when it comes to packing and storing your travel gear—regardless of whether you’re travelling across the globe or around the block. But what if this natural packing intentionality could go beyond having a smooth trip and serve to promote and preserve the world’s resources as well? 

Many travellers are looking for ways to do just that by supporting sustainable tourism initiatives such as: 

  • Reducing environmental waste and damage 
  • Promoting local economies 
  • Preserving global cultures 

Let’s examine several practical ways eco-conscious travellers can prioritize responsible tourism by adopting sustainable habits while planning and packing for trips. 

Leave Responsibly

Sustainable travel habits start long before you walk out the door on your journey. Consider what resources you use in your daily life and how they will be attended to while you’re away. For most, the focal point of our natural resource consumption revolves around our housing. Everything from water or electricity usage to food waste and transportation is linked to your place of residence, which is why it’s important to establish a plan for these things while you are away. 

For frequent travellers, consider selecting a home or residence tailored to your travel needs that keeps sustainability at the forefront. For instance, if you are choosing a place to live for remote work and travel, you should take into account the local transportation and entertainment options as well as your proximity to family and friends. Selecting a home near the things you prioritize will greatly reduce your environmental impact in fuel and transportation while also saving you time and money. 

If you are planning to travel less frequently, create a plan for repurposing your current home and resources while you are away. Consider having a friend or professional house sit or try renting out your space to a tenant. There are many simple home storage ideas, such as decluttering and utilizing vertical space, that can create more space in your home for a guest or renter. Repurposing your residence and its resources in this way will ensure they won’t be wasted or unused for long periods and can save you on maintenance costs. 

Pack Sustainably

Packing for a trip is a largely personal undertaking. A great deal of personality and security is attached to the things we own and use—especially in a foreign environment—which makes packing for a trip a fairly intentional process. Luckily, this intentionality can be easily linked with several, simple sustainable habits that allow eco-conscious travellers to make a big difference in small ways while packing. 

For example, one practical habit is to resist the urge to purchase lots of new things for a trip. The reality is you will probably feel more comfortable and confident wearing and using items that you are familiar with than purchasing all new things, and reusing and repurposing goods is more sustainable for the environment. If there are items you need for an upcoming trip, consider purchasing durable, fair-trade goods from conscientious business brands. The Planeterra Partner Shop and others like it are great options for using your purchasing power to promote sustainability. 

Another eco-friendly packing habit is to avoid purchasing and using single-use items while travelling. Single-use goods like disposable razors, water bottles, utensils, wipes, and more result in unnecessary waste. Instead, consider packing zero-waste travel essentials such as reusable water bottles, soap bars, and snack bags. Though it may seem insignificant, these small choices can add to a tremendous reduction in global landfill waste.

Consider the Weather

Packing sustainably can be tricky when you’re trying to prepare for a variety of weather conditions. The more types of weather you’re prepping for, the more clothes and other items you’re going to be packing, which obliterates attempts at packing light. Additionally, if you want to support a cause such as Pack for a Purpose, you want to save space in your luggage for supplies that will benefit those in need. Weather worries and the resulting excess of caution don’t exactly leave extra philanthropic space.

Therefore, keep a careful eye on your destination’s forecast. Try to pack items suited to the predictions from sources such as The Weather Channel and Weather Underground. One great option is to pack a light windbreaker and wear your heavier coat with you on the plane. That way, you’ll be prepared for colder temperatures and rain without using a ton of luggage space. Or, you could pack a backpacking rain poncho, which hardly takes up any space. Additionally, wear a pair of waterproof, comfortable boots. Sandals will take up minimal space in your bag. 

For sunny weather, it’s best to buy sunscreen at your destination. Overall, remember that you can buy weather-specific supplies in most cities, and you could donate things like umbrellas and clothing instead of trying to tote them back home.  

Stay Intentionally

Being mindful of your final destination and where you will stay is another valuable habit for sustainable travel. Planning and packing for a trip isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Having a full picture of what you will be doing and where you will be staying, whether it’s with a host family, at a hotel, or a rental property, will help you prepare to use your travel resources to their fullest potential. 

Start by creating an accurate picture of the residence that best suits your needs and objectives while travelling. For example, if you are choosing a place to live for remote work, consider what you need to do your job, such as the internet or private workspace, and what timezone your working hours will be in. Or if you are choosing a place to stay to recreate and sight-see consider selecting a residence that is centrally located with good transportation to the places and things you wish to see. These types of lodging plans naturally support sustainability by eliminating unnecessary transport or purchases that would otherwise be needed to meet your trip objectives. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be mindful of how where you will stay will impact those around you. Believing that sustainable tourism is only about protecting the environment is one myth of sustainable travel. While the environment should always be prioritized, sustainability in travel goes beyond this and also focuses on celebrating and supporting local cultures. In this way, whether you are working or playing, be intentional to spend your travel dollars and time within a community that is genuinely empowered and enriched by your visit. 

To conclude, the stuff that we pack and travel with matters when it comes to shaping overall trip experiences. For this reason, travellers tend to prioritize intentionality in their packing. This is why eco-conscious travellers who want to support sustainable tourism have a great opportunity to adopt more sustainable habits in their trip planning and packing processes. 

Simple sustainable travel habits like being mindful to repurpose current resources, reduce waste in packing, and accurately plan to meet your trip needs and objectives will help save the world’s resources and better support local communities. So next time, you’re ready to see a new piece of the world, remember to plan and pack with sustainability in mind. 

About the author:

Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer who 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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Navigating the Climate Challenge: Our Commitment to Carbon Footprint Reduction and Biodiversity Restoration

Written by Thomas Armitt – Global Manager, Projects & Partnerships, Planeterra

In an era marked by environmental challenges, responsible organizations are taking the lead in understanding and mitigating their carbon footprint. Planeterra, a community tourism enterprise development organization, stands at the forefront of this movement.

Let’s delve into how Planeterra calculates its carbon footprint, why it’s committed to this initiative, and the importance of understanding and acting upon these metrics.

Plant with Purpose Tanzania

What is Planeterra’s carbon footprint?

Planeterra, in collaboration with eCollective, embarked on a journey to quantify and understand its carbon footprint through a robust methodology aligned with best practices. Following the guidelines set by UN Tourism for carbon footprint calculation, we strategically chose the year 2019 as our baseline, representing our organizational activities post-COVID.

The results are telling: our carbon footprint for 2019 stood at 108,638 kg CO2e, providing a snapshot of our pre-pandemic impact. Fast forward to 2022, and our measured carbon footprint was 43,161 kg CO2e. We have recently finalized measuring our carbon footprint for 2023, and we are pleased to announce that there has been a 25% decrease in our emissions compared to 2022, with a total of 32,235 kg CO2e

This calculation not only serves as a quantitative benchmark but also underscores our commitment to transparency, sustainability, and continuous improvement. Planeterra’s partnership with eCollective empowers us to take informed steps toward reducing our environmental impact and aligning our operations with global sustainability goals.

How are we calculating our carbon footprint?

Planeterra’s comprehensive carbon footprint audit encompasses various facets of its operations. The following areas are scrutinized:

  • Office emissions: Examining the environmental impact of the physical office space.
  • Working from home emissions: Assessing the carbon footprint associated with remote work.
  • Staff business travel: Including accommodation-related emissions.
  • Staff commuting: Gauging the carbon impact of daily travel to and from work.
  • Miscellaneous: Encompassing various factors like accommodation, transport, activities, and food.

What’s not included in the audit are optional extras, investments, website, merchandise, waste, events, brochures & publications.

Why are we doing that?

Alignment with Global Goals: Planeterra is committed to decarbonizing its operations in line with the United Nations’ goal of achieving a net-zero society by 2050.

Climate Emergency Declaration: Signatories to the Glasgow Declaration on Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency, Planeterra aims to cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. The focus extends beyond carbon reduction to regenerating biodiversity and collaborating with stakeholders for a net-zero tourism industry.

Community-Centric Approach: As a community tourism enterprise development organization, Planeterra recognizes the importance of supporting our community in innovating climate and biodiversity crisis solutions that lead to enhanced adaptability and resilience to the impacts of climate change.

What do we aim to do?

Focus on Key Emission Sources: Prioritizing emissions from working from home and travel-related activities, Planeterra acknowledges the unique nature of its field-based work.

Travel Emission Reduction: Mitigating travel emissions through science-based targets, emphasizing online meetings, and ensuring any necessary travel contributes positively to organizational goals.

Innovative Climate-Biodiversity Initiative: continuing the development of our tree-growing initiative, which emphasizes direct benefits to communities, contributing to resilience, well-being, and biodiversity restoration.

Partnerships for Impact: Collaborating with tourism companies and third-party organizations to finance and scale their Climate-Biodiversity initiatives, exploring financial incentives for communities, such as carbon finance and biodiversity credits.

Continuous Improvement

Planeterra acknowledges the dynamic nature of climate and biodiversity challenges and the significant positive impact that grassroots solutions can provide to the communities we work with. A commitment to continuously reviewing and updating our mitigation strategy ensures the integration of relevant activities into our core operations for the foreseeable future.

In conclusion, Planeterra’s journey toward carbon footprint reduction and biodiversity restoration is not merely a commitment but a tangible, action-oriented initiative. By aligning our operations with global sustainability goals and prioritizing community resilience, Planeterra exemplifies how organizations can be catalysts for positive change in the face of environmental challenges.

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Staying at Jukil Community Lodge

Written by Serena Hejazi

Just a short two-hour drive from the well-known Uyuni town, you’ll find the peaceful village of Santiago de Agencha. It’s a place where time seems to slow down, offering a break from the rush of everyday life. But underneath this calm surface, the village faced some big challenges.

With only about 280 people living here, Santiago de Agencha deals with issues similar to many small towns. Younger people often leave for cities in search of better jobs, leaving behind mostly older folks and kids. This makes it tough for the village to keep up its traditions and culture.

Living here is also pricey because the village is far from big cities, even though most people don’t earn much. And on top of that, there are often droughts that threaten the crops they rely on, like quinoa, which makes life even harder.

Despite challenges,  the people of Santiago de Agencha are dedicated to keeping their way of life alive. Through things like sustainable farming and eco-tourism, they’re working toward a better future while honouring their heritage.

Tourism, especially at places like Jukil Lodge, plays a big part in this. It brings in money for the village and helps people from different places learn about their way of life. It’s a way for visitors to really connect with Santiago de Agencha and its people.

Thanks to travellers passing through from Uyuni to the Atacama Desert in Chile, places like Jukil Lodge (a homestay located in Santiago de Agencha) have popped up, offering a cozy place to stay in the mountains.

Before Jukil Lodge teamed up with Planeterra, things were tough. Not many tourists came, and it was hard for the locals to make a living. But now, with about 300 visitors every month, the lodge has become more than just a place to stay—it’s a way for six local families to earn a living.

My own trip to Jukil Lodge was amazing. As we drove through the winding roads, surrounded by stunning views, I knew I was in for something special. The staff were so friendly, and the cabins were cozy and welcoming. Waking up to the sounds of nature outside my window was pure joy.

As travellers, it’s important for us to be respectful and mindful of the impact we have on places we visit. By supporting places like Jukil Lodge and embracing the culture of places like Santiago de Agencha, we can help make the world a better and more connected place.

So, if you’re looking for an adventure that’s exciting and peaceful at the same time, I highly recommend visiting Jukil Lodge in Bolivia. It’s an experience you’ll remember for years to come.

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 http://seretravels.com/ to learn more about Serena’s travels. 

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Nurturing Tourism Sustainability in India path to a Greener Future

Written by Dr. Niraalee Shah

Tourism plays a vital role in India’s economy, cultural exchange, and global recognition. The country’s rich heritage, diverse landscapes, and vibrant traditions make it a compelling destination for travellers worldwide. However, with the rapid growth of the tourism industry, it is essential to prioritize sustainability and minimize the environmental and socio-cultural impacts of tourism activities. 

This article explores the concept of tourism sustainability in India, highlighting the initiatives, challenges, and the path to achieving a greener and more responsible tourism sector. 

Source: Researchgate.net

THE IMPORTANCE OF TOURISM SUSTAINABILITY:

Tourism sustainability refers to the practice of promoting responsible tourism development that conserves natural resources, preserves cultural heritage, and benefits local communities. Embracing sustainability in the tourism sector is crucial for several reasons:

  • Environmental Protection: Sustainable tourism minimizes the ecological footprint by promoting resource conservation, reducing pollution, and protecting fragile ecosystems.
  • Socio-cultural Preservation: It aims to safeguard the cultural authenticity of destinations, preserve local traditions, and support the well-being of host communities.
  • Economic Benefits: Sustainable tourism generates long-term economic opportunities, including job creation, community empowerment, and inclusive growth.

Traveling Sustainably

India strives towards sustainable tourism; it faces various challenges while also uncovering opportunities for progress. One major hurdle lies in balancing infrastructure development with eco-friendly practices, necessitating meticulous planning and innovative design solutions.

Waste management remains another critical issue, requiring effective systems for disposal and recycling alongside efforts to cultivate responsible tourist behaviour. Moreover, engaging local communities in tourism planning is imperative to ensure their active involvement, foster socio-economic benefits, and safeguard cultural heritage. Promoting awareness among tourists, industry players, and communities about sustainable practices is pivotal for driving positive change.

Moving forward, collaborative endeavours are essential to realize the vision of sustainable tourism in India. Governments must enact and enforce policies conducive to sustainability while providing incentives and clear guidelines for developers and operators. Industry stakeholders, including tour operators and hoteliers, should prioritize sustainability in their operations and offer eco-friendly options to travellers.

Community participation is paramount, necessitating involvement in decision-making processes, capacity building, and equitable distribution of benefits. Concurrently, raising awareness through campaigns, workshops, and educational initiatives will instil a culture of responsible tourism, ensuring a brighter and more sustainable future for India’s tourism sector. 

COMMUNITY-LED SUSTAINABLE TOURISM INITIATIVES IN INDIA

In India, community organizations are pioneering innovative approaches to sustainable tourism, fostering positive impacts on both local communities and travellers. Two notable examples include the “City Walk” program by Salaam Baalak Trust and the “Women with Wheels” initiative led by Sakha Consulting Wings.

City Walk by Salaam Baalak Trust

This youth-led walking tour of Delhi not only offers a fresh perspective of the city but also serves as a platform for youth to develop essential skills. Funds generated from the program support scholarships, job placements, and shelter resources. Over 33 guides, including girls, have participated, with many leveraging their experiences to pursue higher education and careers in various sectors.

  • 37 Youth Guides Trained
  • 8,000+ Children and Youth Benefitting
.
Women with Wheels by Sakha Consulting Wings

Challenging societal norms, this program empowers women by providing opportunities in traditionally male-dominated fields, such as professional driving and logistics. With over 1,193 women trained as professional drivers and initiatives like “Swayam Sakha” catering to the differently-abled, Sakha is making strides in promoting gender equality and safe transportation across India.

  • 2.4 million Safe Rides Provided to Date by Sakha Drivers!
  • 85 Women Employed
  • 425 Community Members Indirectly Benefitting
.

Tourism continues to thrive in India, so it is imperative to prioritize sustainability and ensure the long-term well-being of the environment, communities, and cultural heritage. 

Embracing sustainable tourism practices, India can lead the way in creating a greener and more responsible tourism sector. It requires a collective effort from government bodies, tourism industry stakeholders, local communities, and tourists themselves.

The path ahead for tourism sustainability in India lies in continued collaboration among various stakeholders. Governments need to provide policy and regulatory support that incentivizes sustainable practices and sets clear guidelines. 

The tourism industry must take responsibility by adopting sustainable practices and offering eco-friendly options. Local communities need to actively participate in decision-making and receive the benefits of tourism development. Lastly, tourists themselves should embrace responsible behaviour and support sustainable initiatives.

By nurturing tourism sustainability, India can showcase its natural and cultural treasures while ensuring their preservation for future generations. A greener and more responsible tourism sector will not only benefit the environment and local communities but also enhance the overall tourism experience. 

Let’s all work together to make India the capital of Sustainable Tourism for travellers worldwide.

Dr. Niraalee Shah

About the author:

Dr. Niraalee Shah is the founder of Image Building and Etiquette Mapping, aimed at assisting entrepreneurs in establishing profitable businesses and brands that attract their target clientele. Her expertise lies in enabling brands to showcase their expertise, command premium pricing, and enhance customer experience through brand and customer experience strategies. As a Corporate Trainer, Author, and Consultant in various fields including Tourism, Sustainability, Hospitality, Digital Marketing, and Branding, she collaborates with entrepreneurs, professionals, and corporate entities to drive innovation and development. Dr. Shah’s work emphasizes embracing change to achieve breakthrough performance, demonstrating the significant impact even minor changes can have.

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Zoológico Mágico: The Magic of Art Crafted by Female Artisans

From the colourful streets of San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca, the women of Zoológico Mágico are transforming the art of alebrijes into a tool for empowerment and change.

In the photo, Daniela Hernández stands on the right, alongside her sister-in-law Karina and mother-in-law Leonila. Rosario Fabián, the association's President, is on the far left.

Zoológico Mágico is a collective of talented women from San Martín Tilcajete, a community renowned for its rich cultural heritage and skilled artisans in the art of alebrije crafting.

Their craftsmanship skills have been passed down through three generations, but it was the onset of the pandemic that prompted a significant shift. With their husbands and other male members exploring alternative income sources to support their families during challenging times, these women decided to take matters into their own hands.

Faced with limited options due to the pandemic, they relied on their skills and knowledge in crafting alebrijes to establish a workshop aimed at selling their art and welcoming visitors.

Motivated by their deep connection to their roots, culture, and traditions, these women sought to capture the essence of the alebrije—a fusion of dreams, fantasies, and personal experiences.

What sets Zoológico Mágico apart is not just the beauty of their creations, but also the fact that it is led entirely by women who oversee every stage of the crafting process, including the intricate sculpting of wooden pieces, a task traditionally associated with men!

Check out Rosario Fabián, President of Zoológico Mágico, in action as she carves wood into beautiful sculptures:

Copal: A Mystical Tree

Copal has been used since pre-Hispanic times. This tree holds deep significance for the community of San Martín Tilcajete; it’s sacred to them. The women of Zoológico Mágico use Copal to craft their pieces.

The whimsical way it grows provides artisans with a canvas to unleash their creativity, allowing them to visualize and then shape detailed alebrijes with each swing of the machete.

The sap or resin of the copal tree, also known as incense, is used in various cultural rituals. It’s believed that the smoke from burning incense purifies the soul, protects families, attracts love and abundance, and wards off malevolent spirits.

The residents of San Martín Tilcajete place great importance on the utilization and preservation of the copal tree. Consequently, every year, the entire community – including workshops and residents alike – collaborates on a collective endeavour. They participate in a reforestation initiative, planting approximately 2000 trees to nurture life and sustain their environment.

Crafting a Magical Piece

For some, the price of an alebrije might seem high, but let us assure you, it’s more than fair considering the intricate process behind crafting each of these magical pieces.

It all begins with the selection of the copal trunk, which must be of the highest quality. Its natural structure is what inspires the creation of the figure.

A second step is the curing process, which involves treating and dehydrating the piece. It must be restored and patched as many times as necessary before it’s ready for colour.

Then comes the painting process, where each stroke tells a story. At Zoológico Mágico, artists work with two types of paint. The first, called “basic,” allows for free expression, with dots, spots, and lines forming patterns guided by the artist’s imagination. The second, known as “fine painting,” focuses on symbolism, with each element carefully chosen to convey deeper meaning, like butterflies symbolizing happiness or seeds representing fertility.

This attention to detail ensures that each alebrije is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

The process of crafting an alebrije
Exploring Zoológico Mágico as a Traveller

Aside from purchasing beautiful souvenirs, travellers visiting Zoológico Mágico get to delve into the captivating world of alebrije crafting firsthand. They even get a chance to try their hand at painting one themselves. 

A handy kit equipped with paints, brushes, and all necessary materials is provided, allowing their imagination to run wild with vibrant colours and intricate designs. And who knows, perhaps a taste of Mezcal, a beloved local alcoholic beverage, will make a special appearance to further ignite their inspiration.

 

 

*Interested in joining a tour? Check out what our travel partners at G Adventures or Just You have to offer.

The inspiration for this blog comes directly from the insights generously shared by Daniela Hernández, a talented craft painter at Zoológico Mágico, during a webinar for Spanish-speaking members of Planeterra’s Global Community Network. Watch the session in Spanish below.

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Women in Community Tourism: Three inspiring stories

In case you haven’t heard, Planeterra has joined forces with Evaneos to champion community tourism worldwide, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

The timing of our partnership announcement couldn’t be more perfect, coinciding with International Women’s Day.  So, let’s take a moment to celebrate and shine a spotlight on three extraordinary women who are at the forefront of the first community tourism enterprises supported through this collaboration.

Get ready to be inspired by the stories of Yenny Quispe Sallo, Ni Komang Sariadi, and Jenny Rasija as they lead the charge and uplift others with their remarkable work.

Yenny Quispe Sallo

Community member and former President of the Urpis de Antaquillka Association

Before joining the Urpis de Antaquillka Community Association, Yenny Quispe Sallo made a living by weaving belts and chullos (Andean beanies) to sell at a local market. However, this work was exhausting and unprofitable due to the low selling prices.

After meeting with her colleague Roxana, they decided it was time for a change. They wanted to showcase their amazing creations and explore new opportunities in tourism.

So, even though Yenny lacked experience in the area, she eagerly accepted the position of secretary in the association, backing up Roxana, who served as president at the time. Years later, Yenny ended up taking the presidency twice! 

In 2019, they formalized their association with 40 women, although not all of them are currently active members.

Yenny Quispe Sallo Urpis de Antaquillka Association (Peru)

Yenny and her colleagues also decided to level up their skills with some training in gastronomy and hospitality, getting ready to welcome travellers with open arms.

They were all set to welcome their first visitors in March 2020, but then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and drastically changed their plans. This brought them down, but despite the initial setbacks, they found the motivation to move forward and complete the construction of their premises, with the help of their husbands during the pandemic.

Their perseverance paid off when they finally welcomed their first guests in July 2022, reigniting their determination. They’ve been hustling ever since, teaming up with local agencies to bring in more travellers. And by 2023, they were hosting 3 to 4 groups of tourists every month, which meant more jobs for the 23 incredible ‘mamás’ (as Yenny likes to call her colleagues), with plans to expand even more!

Their vision for the future is to keep growing, and they are immensely grateful for the support of Planeterra and Evaneos. Through our partnership, we’re supporting Yenny and all the women from Urpis de Antaquillka in enhancing their current tourism experiences and upgrading facilities and infrastructure.

This includes improving the llama hiking paths, kitchen facilities, and overall experience development. Additionally, we provide training and capacity building to ensure the success of their tourism enterprise.

Ni Komang Sariadi (Ibu Sari)

Founder of PKP Community Centre

Ni Komang Sariadi (also known as Ibu Sari) has travelled a remarkable journey from adversity to empowerment, inspiring everyone she meets along the way.

Despite enduring the heartache of a difficult divorce and being separated from her daughter for 12 years, she refused to let despair define her. Instead, she embraced resilience and determination, returning to school with a clear mission in mind.

Driven by her own experiences, Ibu Sari recognized the need to support other women facing similar challenges. Thus, she founded the KIM Women’s Centre, a sanctuary of hope for those seeking to rebuild their lives. Understanding the importance of holistic well-being, she developed comprehensive programs to nurture the mind, body, and spirit of her fellow women, offering both emotional support and practical skills.

Ibu Sari PKP Community Centre (Indonesia)

But Ibu Sari’s vision extended beyond individual empowerment. Recognizing the crucial role families play in women’s lives, she expanded the centre’s focus to encompass the entire community. With the introduction of the new PKP logo, symbolizing unity and growth, the centre transformed into a vibrant hub where people of all ages and genders could gather to learn, collaborate, and flourish.

Today, the PKP Community Centre stands as a testament to Ibu Sari’s resilience and compassion. Through initiatives ranging from sewing and cooking to yoga and more, it continues to empower individuals to lead fulfilling lives and contribute to their community. However, sustaining this vital work relies on the ongoing support of generous donors who share Ibu Sari’s vision of a brighter future for all.

We are collaborating with Evaneos to support Ibu Sari and the PKP Community Centre in upgrading their existing catering tourism infrastructure.

This includes enhancing the walking path around the garden to make it wheelchair-friendly and accessible to everyone. Additionally, we will provide training on the technical aspects of running a successful tourism enterprise.

Jenny Rasija

Founder of Razafindrabe

Jenny Rasija is a young Malagasy entrepreneur driven by a passion for arts, community development, and women’s empowerment.

Her journey into handicrafts started in 2010 when she joined family members in the trade. However, it was her travels across various African countries to engage in social work that reignited her passion for handicrafts. Inspired to make a difference, Jenny raised the bar and established Razafindrabe Collections in 2016.

As a social activist, Jenny advocates for artisans, working tirelessly to secure a brighter future not only for them but also for their entire families.

As a result, we aim to help Razafindrabe diversify its income, foster cultural exchange, and empower the women artisans involved. This will also lead to opportunities for their own education and that of their children, enable infrastructure upgrades and offer financial freedom.

Jenny Rasija Razafindrabe (Madagascar)

The stories of Yenny, Ni Komang Sariadi, Jenny Rasija, and all the women inspiring change within their communities are true examples of the power of community tourism to uplift lives and create better futures for women worldwide.

We are grateful to partner with global leaders such as  Evaneos to continue fostering the positive impact of tourism. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting partnership.

 

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Planeterra and Evaneos: Transforming the Tourism Supply Chain Collaboratively

Overcoming the challenges of tourism requires decisive action, and Evaneos is setting a shining example.

In an era where responsible tourism is imperative, collaboration between industry leaders is key to driving positive change. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce Planeterra has joined forces with Evaneos, the leading online marketplace for tailor-made tours, to advance fairer tourism globally.

Evaneos, a European leader in responsible tourism, has been at the forefront of creating authentic and responsible trips for travellers for over 15 years. Through its platform, Evaneos has built a trusted network of local agencies worldwide, ensuring that at least 85% of the amount of each trip goes directly to local actors. Evaneos is committed to going even further in promoting fair distribution of revenues in the tourism supply chain.

Harnessing the Power of Community Tourism

Community tourism lies at the heart of this partnership. By partnering with Planeterra, Evaneos aims to harness the power of community tourism as a force to break down barriers and promote social equity.

Together, we strive to make a meaningful impact on the destinations where Evaneos’ local partners operate, supporting communities while promoting a better way to travel.

This partnership isn’t just about financial support; it’s about creating lasting change.

Through grants, technical training, and mentorship, Evaneos and Planeterra are empowering communities to become self-sufficient and resilient. By integrating community tourism experiences into Evaneos’ offerings, travellers can engage with local cultures in meaningful ways, enriching their travel experiences while supporting community development.

Planeterra and Evaneos are kicking off this partnership by supporting the development of three community tourism enterprises in 2024. These initiatives empower women, preserve cultural heritage, and foster economic and social growth within local communities, showcasing the immense potential of community tourism. 

Urpis de Antaquillka Association

📍Cuper Bajo Community, Chinchero District, Cusco Region, Peru

Urpis de Antaquillka is a community association formed by 23 women. They ventured into tourism to gain recognition for their handicrafts and generate direct economic income for their families.

Through their experiences, this female-led association aims to share ancestral knowledge with those seeking genuine experiences.

From immersive weaving sessions with local women to water ceremonies, traditional cooking classes, and unforgettable llama hikes in the Andes, Urpis de Antaquillka offers a rich tapestry of cultural immersion.

In collaboration with Evaneos, we are focusing on three experiences: the Water Ceremony, Llama Hiking, and a meal experience where travellers learn about a traditional Peruvian dish, the Pachamanca.

Our support involves helping Urpis de Antaquillka improve its current tourism experiences and upgrade its facilities and infrastructure, including enhancing the llama hiking paths, kitchen facilities, experience development, and providing training and capacity building to ensure the success of their tourism enterprise.

The goal is for the community to attract more travellers and create a dependable income stream to sustain their community tourism enterprise.

Impact: Directly employing 23 Indigenous women and touching the lives of 60 others.

PKP Community Centre

📍Bali, Indonesia

PKP Community Centre is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering female empowerment and gender equality among vulnerable Balinese women and local girls. Through various initiatives, the center offers programs focused on teaching essential skills like sewing, cooking, yoga, and community integration.

In addition to providing economic independence and vocational training skills to women and youth, they also offer emotional and psychological guidance to women who have faced economic, emotional, physical, and social hardships, enabling them to lead a life of dignity.

Women associated with PKP can now support their children’s education, empowering the entire village by redirecting additional funds toward education and nutrition

Travellers are invited to immerse themselves in the vibrant local culture through activities such as food exploration, prayer offering classes, gardening, and craftsmanship workshops.

Through our partnership with Evaneos, we aim to support the PKP community team members in upgrading their existing catering tourism infrastructure, including enhancing the walking path around the garden to make it wheelchair-friendly and accessible for everyone. We’ll also provide training on the technical aspects of running a successful tourism enterprise.

With this support, the women will attract more travellers and establish a steady source of income to sustain their catering and other initiatives.

Impact: Changing the lives of 30 women directly and reaching over 100 through outreach efforts.

Razafindrabe

📍Antananarivo, Madagascar

Due to low levels of education in Madagascar, many women lack the skills to apply for formal jobs to support themselves and their children. Razafindrabe was founded to address this issue. This women-led social enterprise is on a mission to create sustainable livelihoods for women by promoting traditional Malagasy Raffia craftsmanship.

They strive to empower women economically and socially through craft-making while also preserving Madagascar’s cultural heritage. Thanks to Razafindrabe, many women who have had no previous formal education can now use their natural talents to create unique handicrafts and learn different entrepreneurial skills.

Like many tourism enterprises, the pandemic led to a decline in visitors, resulting in a slow recovery. Consequently, their sole source of income currently comes from online purchases.

Together with Evaneos, we want to assist the women of Razafindrabe in bridging the gap between virtual sales and direct interaction with travellers by creating different experiences, such as a cooking class to learn about traditional methods of cooking Malagasy food, as well as a hands-on raffia making experience.

As a result, we aim to help Razafindrabe diversify its income, foster cultural exchange, and empower the women artisans involved. This will also lead to opportunities for their own education and that of their children, enable infrastructure upgrades and offer financial freedom.

Impact: Touching the lives of 100 community members directly and an additional 1,200 indirectly.

Join Us in Making a Difference

As Planeterra and Evaneos embark on this journey, we invite travellers and industry partners alike to join us in making a difference. Whether it’s choosing community tourism experiences for your next adventure or supporting our initiatives, together, we can create a more equitable and sustainable tourism industry that benefits communities around the globe. 

Follow Evaneos and Planeterra to keep up with the latest news on this amazing partnership and the stories of the communities involved. And don’t forget to book your next trip with Evaneos to keep the impact growing!

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Cultural Immersion and Self-Care: Finding Balance in Sustainable Travel Experiences

Written by Ainsley Lawrence

Studies show that 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress, and 25% say that their job is the number one stress in their lives.

Practicing self-care can make a big difference in managing stress, and one of the ways many people enjoy relaxing is by traveling and experiencing other cultures. However, it’s important to find ways to travel affordably and with a lower impact on the environment.

Here are some ways that you can travel sustainably while immersing yourself in a new culture.

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How Travel Helps Manage Burnout

One of the stressful things about daily life is that it can feel very repetitive. You go to work, come home, have supper, go to bed, and do it all over again. It’s easy to feel like what you’re doing doesn’t make a difference and isn’t appreciated. 

Unfortunately, this repetition and discouragement can lead to burnout, which can have long-term negative effects on your life.

Burnout happens when you’re doing stressful work for long hours without much of a break. You can feel tired all the time, struggle with sleep, and have mood swings. Long-term burnout can cause headaches, high blood pressure, and digestive issues.

The good news is that travel can help you break up your routine, have new experiences, and get a renewed perspective on life, especially when you experience new cultures. Travel can increase your creativity, allow you to reset, and improve your mental health and overall well-being.

Traveling Sustainably

As you take care of yourself, it’s essential to also take care of the communities you visit and the planet by traveling sustainably. Start with what you decide to bring with you. The lighter you travel, the lower your carbon footprint and impact on the places you visit.

For example, instead of buying mass-produced fast fashion to wear on your trip, choose a high-quality wardrobe that will last for years. For example, you might choose durable Wrangler jeans, a high-quality Carhartt jacket, or a genuine leather belt.

Next, think about the sustainable habits you can practice as you travel. Remember that sustainable travel is about protecting both the environment and the local communities you visit. Each individual makes a difference with their choices. 

Consider supporting local businesses as you travel rather than national or international chains. You can choose local transportation that has lower emissions and prioritize spending money with companies that have strong sustainability practices.

Best of all, immersing yourself fully in the culture of your destination can help you break out of the rut you’ve been in. By going to locally-owned restaurants and businesses, you can experience the true essence of a place, whether it’s near where you live or quite far away.

How to Ensure Your Travel is Self-Care

It’s easy to intend to relax as you travel, only to get caught up in stressful situations, unmet expectations, and unexpected challenges. Having the right mindset as you go on vacation can make a big difference.

Start by thinking about where you’re headed and how you can embrace the culture. Tourism can help preserve local traditions and foster your awareness of new cultures. And you don’t have to leave the country to find unique heritages — simply visiting a subculture within your state, such as visiting the Amish in Pennsylvania or the Cajuns in Louisiana, can open your eyes to an entirely different way of life.

As you make plans to enjoy the local communities you visit, focus on mindfulness to boost your resilience to unexpected challenges.

Remember that vacation isn’t automatically stress-free, but having an adaptable attitude and sense of exploration can help you adjust to changes more easily.

Sustainable travel, where you immerse yourself in a local culture, can help you break free of the treadmill that is leading you toward burnout. 

About the author:

Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer who 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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Crafting Connections and Building Opportunities through the Community Haat Bazaar

Written by Sazza K.C. and Rubik Joshi from Community Homestay Network

Tracing the journey from conception to realization, the Community Homestay Network and Planeterra recently joined forces to unite Global Community Tourism Network (GCTN) Nepal partners in a dynamic marketplace. Hear our story of how we turned an idea into a reality, along with the key takeaways and lessons learned from the event.

Community-Haat-Bazaar attendees visiting one of the stands

Forging a Sustainable Future: Planeterra and CHN's Visionary Partnership in Community-Based Tourism

Established by Planeterra during the pandemic, the Global Community Tourism Network (GCTN) stands as a beacon of support for community tourism enterprises worldwide, actively dismantling barriers in the tourism marketplace. Through engaging activities like offering access to enriching online learning opportunities, fostering global connections among like-minded peers, and championing partnerships for increased visibility and sustainability, the GCTN is empowering community tourism enterprises to reach new heights. The emphasis here is on growth, learning, and collaboration—key ingredients for transforming dreams into reality.

As an active supporter of community tourism, Planeterra has been working together with the Community Homestay Network to support various community tourism enterprises and initiatives in Nepal. The objective of this partnership is to strengthen community tourism in Nepal by providing funding and knowledge-sharing sessions by bringing them under the GCTN partner network. The Community Haat Bazaar was one such initiative.

In the wake of the Planeterra team’s visit to Nepal for the First in-person meet of the GCTN, an interesting idea surfaced—to unite local members of the network under a common platform to showcase the local and traditional arts, products, and experiences—the notion aimed at fostering economic growth and providing extensive networking opportunities through organized events.

Subsequently, a series of monthly meetings unfolded between key stakeholders from the Community Homestay Network (CHN) and Priyanka Singh, Community Tourism Project Manager for Asia-Pacific at Planeterra. These discussions explored crucial considerations such as the nature of the event — whether it should be exclusive to GCTN Nepal partners or include other entities engaging in community tourism, budgeting considerations with potential assistance from Planeterra, and meticulous planning regarding when and where the event could take place. 

The collaboration between CHN and Planeterra emerged as a powerful synergy, with CHN as the organizing force and Planeterra contributing essential knowledge and resources to ensure the success of this community-building initiative. Together, we envisioned an event and a catalyst for sustainable growth and meaningful connections within the global community.

From Vision to Reality: CHN and Planeterra's Collaborative Journey in Creating a Dynamic and Inclusive Community Event - Community Haat Bazaar

The Importance of Fostering Community Growth for a Sustainable Collaboration

Long-term partnerships are the cornerstone of the sustainability of any event or project. By providing a stable foundation, these collaborations ensure consistency, effective resource utilization, and shared commitment to common goals. The gradual development of trust and rapport facilitates open communication and problem-solving, essential for overcoming challenges. Long-term partnerships also promote a continuous learning mindset, allowing collaborators to adapt and improve together over time. The sense of community fostered by long-term collaborations extends to stakeholders, creating a supportive ecosystem.

Members of GCTN Nepal partners share common goals that revolve around promoting sustainable development, preserving cultural heritage, and fostering positive socio-economic impacts. These shared goals reflect the commitment of community tourism enterprises to creating positive, sustainable, and culturally enriching tourism experiences for both visitors and local communities. Keeping these things in mind, the collaboration between CHN and Planeterra was initiated to foster the relationship between the GCTN Nepal partners; building a sense of community among collaborators. This not only includes the immediate partners but also extends to stakeholders and the broader community.

Before the conceptualization of the Community Haat Bazaar, we have also been organizing routine meet-ups (virtually) between our network partners to discuss how we can move forward with this collaboration. The Community Haat Bazaar was one such conception initiated to support our partner network members.

What is the Community Haat Bazaar?

The Community Haat Bazaar is a traditional open-air market aimed to bring the GCTN Nepal partners together and allow them to showcase their art and cultural commodities. This event serves as a multifaceted platform, bringing together community members, promoting local artisans and businesses, and creating a dynamic social and economic hub. 

The primary objective of the Community Haat Bazaar is to cultivate a sense of community among our community homestay members and visitors while providing economic growth opportunities to our network partners. The event was strategically designed to showcase and support local businesses. The market stalls featured an array of products, including handmade crafts, clothing, jewelry, and fresh produce, inviting local artisans, craftsmen, farmers, and entrepreneurs to display and sell their offerings.

In addition to the market aspect, the Community Haat Bazaar offers enriching experiences through workshops and interactive sessions. These sessions aim to educate participants on various cultural topics, such as the unique Ranjana Lipi script and the intricate Mithila Art. Beyond the economic boost, the event emphasizes community engagement and the creation of a vibrant social space.

Unveiling the Success of the Community Haat Bazaar

Following the conceptualization phase, we initiated collaborative efforts with our event partner, Planeterra. While CHN took the initiative to organize and manage the event, Planeterra provided funding and guidance for setting up the event. Furthermore, AVATA Wellness Centre provided the event venue in Baluwatar, Kathmandu. 

The Haat Bazaar was primarily marketed to the expat community, along with some of the key stakeholders of the travel industry. We wanted to expose our GCTN Nepal partners’ products and services to potential travellers and travel agents while creating a platform for the participants and an opportunity to network and connect with the visitors.

Collaborative promotional efforts besides promoting the event on digital platforms were also undertaken to amplify the reach of the event. With a common goal to promote tourism as a force of good, our sister entities from Royal Mountain Group of Companies played a crucial part in promoting the event. The same thing goes for the supporters of our co-organizing entity – Planeterra.

It was amazing to witness the synergy demonstrated by all these stakeholders involved in the promotion of the event, which shows that a well-planned communication strategy can work wonders when executed properly. A total of 8 organizations, including AVATA – our venue partner, participated in setting up a kiosk for the Community Haat Bazaar.

The fruition of all these efforts was reflected during the day of the event. All stakeholders involved were fully engaged throughout the entirety of the event. The venue; AVATA, witnessed a notable turnout of visitors that met our expectations, leading to an engaging event where people were busy exploring and involving themselves in the various local products and experiences provided by our enthusiastic partners. New connections were made along with the rejuvenation of existing partnerships. 

Notably, international travellers and expats came to the event, a testament to the success of our marketing efforts. In addition to that, other communities were invited to observe the Community Haat Bazaar, contributing to the event’s inclusive atmosphere. The day concluded with a feedback and reflection session, providing participants with an opportunity to share insights and experiences from this vibrant community-driven gathering.

After the success of the first edition, we are hopeful that this would be a good and replicable model to show what goes behind planning an event and how one can truly support community-based events to garner a wide audience resulting in success.

Lessons from the First Edition of the Community Haat Bazaar

In reflection, the Community Haat Bazaar not only served as a vibrant marketplace but also offered invaluable insights and learnings. The event highlighted a strategic shift in our approach, emphasizing the importance of expanding our reach to customer-centric audiences rather than exclusively focusing on business partners. The sense of belonging experienced by GCTN Nepal Partners’ community members showed the significance of such gatherings, providing not just economic opportunities but also fostering a deeper connection within the community.

Some pictures of the event, courtesy of Community Homestay Network:

The seamless orchestration by the CHN team, coupled with the active involvement of Planeterra partners and GCTN members, emerged as pivotal factors in the event’s success.

Looking forward, the importance of pre-scheduled communication with supporting partners and clear expectation management for participants became evident, emphasizing the need for meticulous planning in future endeavours.

The event not only marked a celebration of culture but also laid the foundation for continued community empowerment and sustainable growth.

About the authors:

Sazza K.C. and Rubik Joshi are two dedicated team members of the Community Homestay Network (CHN), a social enterprise that supports a network of community homestays in Nepal. Sazza works as a Product Development Expert, while Rubik is their Social Media Manager.

CHN is one of our Strategic Partners in Nepal with whom Planeterra has joined forces to support the members of our Global Community Tourism Network.

 

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