We talk to the founder of G Adventures Bruce Poon Tip about sustainable travel post COVID-19.
A few months ago it was near unfathomable to think there would be a near worldwide ban on cross-country travel. Our hopes and dreams were dashed as flights and tours were cancelled, and although domestic travel restarts in level 2, our borders are still closed to the outside world.
We’re hoping international travel will resume by the end of 2020. For those in search of something meaningful, or going off the grid and experiencing the authentic culture, G Adventures is a tour company to consider.
I have had fond adventures of my G Adventures trips; travelling through Cambodia with our dear tour guide Pan, and sailing around the Greek Cyclades in an 8-person catamaran. And as someone who would say yes to another G Adventures tour in a heartbeat, it’s because of the values that the company upholds.
G Adventures has flourished since its humble beginnings in 1990, maintaining its give-back approach, and providing a model for how any company can become a real social enterprise. And most importantly, G Adventures puts its local communities first, directly benefiting the people and places its tour groups visit.
Talking to Bruce about the meaning of sustainable travel, he says “travel truly has the power to make the world a better place. I’ve said this many times, but it’s worth repeating – travel, if done right, can be the greatest form of wealth redistribution the world has ever seen.”
However, proceed with caution, as ‘good’ travel is not as simple as volunteering or visiting an orphanage. This is because there may be underlying neglect or abuse happening to children trafficked into situations where they interact with tourists, and they often feel abandonment when exposed to volunteers. G Adventures educates its travellers on the dangers of orphanage tourism and has implemented Child Welfare Guidelines to protect children around the world.
We ask Bruce how we can respect other cultures when travelling, and he says to listen and observe. “You have to remember that you’re a visitor who should be willing to learn about the culture, tradition and history of the communities you visit. You can have a greater appreciation of who you are in the world by seeing and experiencing other cultures and it’s important to respect those cultures while travelling.”
As the travel industry recovers and builds momentum post COVID-19, sustainable travel, or community tourism, is possibly the future of the travel industry. Bruce believes that travellers will be more inclined to visit destinations that rely on tourism to thrive. To put it simply, “these are the communities which will need us the most.”
Lastly, we ask Bruce about his favourite destination. He’s drawn to places where he can disconnect from the modern world and connect with nature. “Right now, I’d have to say Antarctica and the Galapagos would be at the top of my list because you can really hone in on yourself and your place in the world.”