Press Release

International non-profit Planeterra expands Board of Directors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Planeterra

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

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace

Senior Manager – Development & Communications 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About Planeterra

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

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more

Planeterra’s Virtual Everest Base Camp Trek A Resounding Success

Over 550 people on 62 teams joined to support community tourism around the world rebuild and recover post-COVID

The Planeterra Trek Challenge culminated on World Tourism Day last Sunday, and a celebration was in order as the non-profit raised over US$78,000 to help community tourism organizations worldwide who are suffering from a lack of travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge was for individuals and teams to trek 85,000 steps, approximately the distance to Everest Base Camp, celebrating tourism to the region and also community tourism’s ability to reduce poverty and empower communities.

The virtual event featured a number of travel agent teams, as well as staff from travel brands G Adventures, TruTravels, Travelsphere and JustYou, and Planeterra founder Bruce Poon Tip created his own team, leading the fundraising efforts with over US$13,000 raised. Poon Tip also matched donations up to US$19,000.

A number of well-known bloggers also participated including Uncornered Market, Divergent Travellers, and Nomads Giving Back. Truly a global event, participants hailed from over 30 different counties, with many opting into taking on the step challenge associated with the event.

“What we witnessed is an incredible show of support from Planeterra’s global community, which grew over the weeks before, and during the Planeterra Trek Challenge,” says Planeterra President Jamie Sweeting. “Travellers love authentic experiences that give back to the communities they visit, and by raising these funds they demonstrated that they want our partners to be there when we’re all able to travel again.”

Participants hiked to raise awareness of the power of community tourism to change lives and uplift communities. Donations will provide kickstarter funding for communities worldwide that need to invest in new health and safety measures, provide training for safely reopening, and ensure communities remain resilient and safe for years to come.

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About Planeterra

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

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more

PLANETERRA LAUNCHES VIRTUAL TREK CHALLENGE TO HELP REBUILD COMMUNITY TOURISM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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About Planeterra

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

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more

Planeterra Raises $100,000 in Emergency Funds for Community Tourism Relief

Non-profit raised $100,000 to support community tourism businesses affected by COVID-19 shutdowns

Earlier this week, Canadian non-profit Planeterra Foundation successfully closed their Turn Travel Into Impact from Home emergency fundraising campaign after successfully hitting their fundraising target of $100,000. The campaign was aimed at encouraging travellers who have found themselves at home due to the spread of COVID-19 to continue to make an impact on small community businesses in the tourism industry.

Planeterra Foundation has disbursed 19 emergency relief grants during this time, and will continue to evaluate and support project partners until travel resumes.

“Just because this particular fundraising campaign has closed, does not mean we are done sending grants to our partners,” says Planeterra President Jamie Sweeting. “Our team continues to support our 85 community partners worldwide, and we are reviewing grant appeals on a regular basis, with more to disburse in the coming weeks.”

Planeterra’s Turn Travel Into Impact from Home campaign was launched at the end of March, when it became clear our community partners globally were going to need support to meet their basic needs during the pandemic, and ensure their recovery when travel reemerges post-COVID. After reaching their $50,000 goal in June, Planeterra Founder and Chairman of the Board Bruce Poon Tip graciously offered to match donations for the remainder of the campaign, which helped the non-profit reach their second goal of $100,000.

“We want to thank our global community of donors for their overwhelming support when our partners needed it most, but our work is far from over,” continued Sweeting. “The Planeterra team continues to help our partners that are dealing with the various stages of the pandemic. We hope our growing community will join us as tourism and Planeterra reemerge stronger and more resilient than ever.”

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About Planeterra

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

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more

PLANETERRA LAUNCHES ONLINE RESOURCE TO STRENGTHEN COMMUNITY TOURISM BUSINESSES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ends.

About Planeterra

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

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more

Planeterra supports communities most in need as projects pivot to help tackle COVID-19 crisis

Non-profit launches ‘Turn Travel into Impact from Home’ campaign

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

Calling on travellers and organizations around the world to offer their support, Planeterra has launched the ‘Turn Travel into Impact from Home’ campaign, with the goal of raising CAD$50,000 to help communities in immediate need. The campaign has already raised $15,000 in the past two weeks, allowing the non-profit to transfer grants to six of their partners to help support basic community needs, including food and medicine. 

Among the first to receive funding is the AidChild Leadership Institute (ALI) in Uganda, which sees 50% of their operating budgets generated by their tourism initiatives, including a cafe and guesthouse rooms. The grant was allocated immediately to provide food for the 67  HIV-positive orphans in their care.

“We are still able to continue to feed and support the children and students in our care, thanks to this invaluable, adaptable, and compassionate partnership with Planeterra,” explains ALI founder, Dr. Nathaniel Dunigan. 

Despite facing hardship, many communities are demonstrating kindness and resilience, with project members utilising their skills to offer support and services to others during the crisis. In China, the Jia Community Restaurant, which supports rural women and children by providing meaningful job opportunities, has transformed into a delivery and distribution centre for masks and thermometers for nearby villages, while in Zambia the team at Tribal Textiles, which supports local artisans outside South Luangwa National Park, are using their workshop to sew 1,500 masks for local healthcare workers. 

President of Planeterra Jamie Sweeting, says that fragile communities need the support now more than ever to ensure they are protected and can continue to offer life changing experiences when travellers return in the future.

“Our global team is working overtime to support our projects, with grants to purchase food and medicine already going out to communities in Morocco, Belize, and Botswana. We’re encouraged by projects that are helping one another and their communities, and we hope this fund will provide some relief and help to ensure jobs and organizations remain intact for when travellers inevitably return,” Sweeting continues. 

ends

 

About Planeterra

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

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more

PLANETERRA SUPPORTS COMMUNITIES MOST IN NEED AS PROJECTS PIVOT TO HELP TACKLE COVID-19 CRISIS

Non-profit launches ‘Turn Travel into Impact from Home’ campaign

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

Calling on travellers and organizations around the world to offer their support, Planeterra has launched the ‘Turn Travel into Impact from Home’ campaign, with the goal of raising CAD$50,000 to help communities in immediate need. The campaign has already raised $15,000 in the past two weeks, allowing the non-profit to transfer grants to six of their partners to help support basic community needs, including food and medicine.

Among the first to receive funding is the AidChild Leadership Institute (ALI) in Uganda, which sees 50% of their operating budgets generated by their tourism initiatives, including a cafe and guesthouse rooms. The grant was allocated immediately to provide food for the 67  HIV-positive orphans in their care.

“We are still able to continue to feed and support the children and students in our care, thanks to this invaluable, adaptable, and compassionate partnership with Planeterra,” explains ALI founder, Dr. Nathaniel Dunigan.

Despite facing hardship, many communities are demonstrating kindness and resilience, with project members utilising their skills to offer support and services to others during the crisis. In China, the Jia Community Restaurant, which supports rural women and children by providing meaningful job opportunities, has transformed into a delivery and distribution centre for masks and thermometers for nearby villages, while in Zambia the team at Tribal Textiles, which supports local artisans outside South Luangwa National Park, are using their workshop to sew 1,500 masks for local healthcare workers.

President of Planeterra Jamie Sweeting, says that fragile communities need the support now more than ever to ensure they are protected and can continue to offer life-changing experiences when travellers return in the future.

“Our global team is working overtime to support our projects, with grants to purchase food and medicine already going out to communities in Morocco, Belize, and Botswana. We’re encouraged by projects that are helping one another and their communities, and we hope this fund will provide some relief and help to ensure jobs and organizations remain intact for when travellers inevitably return,” Sweeting continues.

ends.

About Planeterra

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

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

Read more