Rethinking the way the tourism industry operates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GoodWork Foundation_planeterra

Good Work Foundation – Hazyview, South Africa

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

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

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

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

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

To learn more about GWF, click here.

Safi Kitchen_Jordan_Planeterra_P100

Safi Kitchen – Southern Ghawr, Jordan

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

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

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

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

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

To learn more about Safi Kitchen, click here.

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

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

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