The travel industry has been decimated by Coronavirus and it will be years before the world returns to a new normal, and even then, it’s clear that how and where we travel will never be the same.
As we look at the devastation, we are the first to admit that less mass tourism, fewer cruise ships pulling into overcrowded ports and fewer planes in the sky are all good things.
Over especially the past fifteen years, there has been a serious and important movement by thoughtful people to use real eco-tourism to protect remarkable parts of the world and help communities prosper where before, there was little hope.
In our travels around the world, we have seen first hand how powerful tourism dollars can be if used correctly – in South Luangwa, Zambia, we visited Flatdogs Camp and saw what they and several other camps in the region have created with the remarkable Project Luangwa.
These properties and people that are doing good can range from a small guesthouse that positively empowers a local community or a major initiative to preserve and protect a huge area. What they share is the commitment to use tourist dollars for good, and not just personal profit.
We have been working and considering how to build and launch this network for a while now, but the Covid-19 crisis forced us into more immediate action.
- We have set up our organization in the United Kingdom and begun reaching out to properties and people we know around the world.
- We have started to reach out to people who may be able to financially support these properties through a program that offers partners strong travel value and also flexibility to take advantage of that value.
- As is true with any immediate action to meet an immediate need, we are working through a number of issues and can hopefully answer any question, or, at worst, get you an answer as soon as we can.
At this stage, not surprisingly, we personally know of quite a few properties and projects – these are the ones we are working with and featuring first.
We are not partners or investors in any property we feature – most of the initial ones, we have personally visited but we are actively searching for more places to speak with and help.
If you know of a place, please email to us so we can reach out. As this project grows, at some point, it will transform a bit and be follow its original vision – to be a network and community of people, properties and projects doing good around the world.
For travelers, we want our name to mean that their tourist dollars are doing good. For properties, we want to bring them more travelers directly so they earn more in the long run (and can do more good.)
For us, we want to be able to visit these places and for our children, and their children to see the world as we have been fortunate enough to be able to do.
As we have been considering how this might all work, Covid-19 changed the game. Now, it’s not about helping create a community in the future – it’s about acting now to give these places a chance at survival.
If you use the ratio of 1:10, for the number of people supported by each employee, each lodge employs a number of people who have a large family who depend on them. They also support school teachers, local amenities, football clubs and medical clinics. The network from each lodge is immense. Also all lodges pay a conservancy fee or park fee which helps keep the local community onside with tourism as well as keeping wildlife a valuable resource. Just by being on a game drive, tourism helps with anti-poaching. This is all before the conservation efforts that they shout about like protecting rhinos, supporting community schools, community health clinics, blind clinics and so on.
In Myanmar, there is the beautiful and famous Inle Lake. If one travels three hours south on the lake, you will get to the serene and amazing Inle Sanctuary. We had the opportunity to visit two years ago and have stayed in touch with the owner Aung Min. When we asked him how he was doing and that we were trying to organize a project to help, this was his reply:
We’re all doing fine but of course Sanctuary has been closed for a while now due to the pandemic.I’ve been growing rice beside the Inle Sanctuary and hopefully, I can provide the staff salary in this way although I still have trouble for loan interest.
Aung Min preserves and protects an amazing part of the lake – his visitors support the local five day market which is held on his front lawn once a week. The Sanctuary supports the local monastic school and critical health clinic.
We hope you will help him and people like him all around the world – and then, like us, look forward to when we can actually go away for good once again.