For all of you who thought that the adventure travel companies would never fully enter this space, here is the proof. Travel & Leisure just named Gap Adventures a leader in voluntourism. Is this because of their great trips? Sustainability practices? PR team?
I’m not saying that this award isn’t deserved because I met with Richard Edwards at ATWS and really think they have a great sustainable product. I just wanted to bring to everyone’s attention that adventure travel operators are officially in this space and its time to partner.
The latest and best efforts at cultural preservation, environmental conservation, and community-building through tourism are recognized in Travel + Leisure’s 2009 Global Vision Awards. CEO and Founder Bruce Poon Tip of Gap Adventures, the world’s leading small group adventure tour operator, was one of 17 organisations recognised for efforts to promote voluntourism. Through the company’s non-profit organisation, Planeterra, Gap Adventures is dedicated to the development and support of small communities around the globe since 2003.
Voluntourism, a fast-growing segment of the travel industry has been pioneered by Gap Adventure’s vision to promote environmental responsibilty and a connection to locals. Planeterra’s range of projects, which span the arenas of health, education, employment skills training, cultural heritage preservation, and environmental conservation, help travellers find ways to give back to the people and places they visit. All projects have the central goal of helping local people achieve a sustainable way of life in an environmentally sensitive manner.
Highlights of Planeterra Voluntourism trips include:
- Project Costa Rica: Travellers get a hands on experience with the Sea Turtle Conservation Project including night patrols along the beach, data collection, beach clean-ups, maintenance, monitoring of the turtle and if the timing is right, counting baby turtles and releasing them.
- Project India: Volunteers participate in a five-day community project at the Bal Prakash Center which focuses on the eradication of child labour by a meaningful blend of education and vocation, while experiencing the beauty and adventure of India’s culture.
“We are excited to be honoured with this award and are pleased that Travel + Leisure recognizes Gap Adventures commitment promoting voluntourism,” says founder and CEO of Gap Adventures, Bruce Poon Tip. He adds, “We hope this honour will encourage travellers to seek out ways they can give back in the course of their adventures and make a positive impact on the world.”
Nancy Novogrod, editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure, says “The individuals and organisations recognised in T+L’s 2009 Global Vision Awards epitomise the idea that travel is a force for good. Even in these challenging economic times, it is encouraging to see that important issues for our world and our industry are a priority for this year’s winners. We applaud their outstanding efforts and hope that they provide inspiration for both travelers and others in the travel world.”
As a result of Gap Adventure’s commitment to voluntourism, the Canadian tour operator was selected by a jury of eight members including Dan Barber, Celine Simone Cousteau, Bruce Mau, and Dr. Joseph E. Stiglitz for the fifth annual Global Vision Awards.