How G Adventures Gives Back to the Community

When you are planning a trip abroad with sustainability in mind, it can sometimes be complex and hard to execute. You may think of options like a  group trip, head to a particular destination you think is more sustainable, or look for ways to make a positive impact when you arrive. Thankfully, some travel organizations, like G Adventures, take the difficulty out of preplanning and allow you to focus on how you can truly be a positive, impactful traveler.

“Changing the world through travel” has been the organization’s motto since its creation in 1990. For over 20 years, G Adventures has curated numerous bookings for individuals to revel in sustainable vacations, the local community and volunteer services that provide an enriching experience. Furthermore, G Adventures works closely with its non-profit partner – Planeterra, which aims to empower people, protect the environment, and create a ripple effect of positive impact through tourism.

From all across the globe, there are numerous vacation projects for you to pick from. The organization just introduced five new projects to the public in 2020. Be sure to check them out below to gain some destination inspiration or learn more about how you can give back to communities while traveling.

1. Dqae Qare San Lodge – D’Kar, Botswana

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The Dqae Qare San Lodge is a unique experience as it is owned and run by the San people

D’kar is a village in the Ghanzi District of Botswana. A large number of the San of Southern Africa, a marginalized group of indigenous people, resides there. They are excluded from the economy and lack social services. Moreover, they are under constant threat of their language and history being demolished by infrastructure development and lack of cultural resources. 

In the D’kar village, the Dqae Qare San Lodge is a wildlife area, lodge and campsite. It also aids in the protection of the San of Botswana. It offers full-time employment and part-time work for those who offer cultural activities and other small jobs there. Over USD $38,000 is annually paid to upkeep development projects like freshwater infrastructure and resources for preschool. Such projects are invaluable to the community, which lives in extreme poverty.

Planeterra partners with Dqae Qare San Lodge to assist them with upgrades to their site and accommodation. Funds are used to improve facilities and connect the lodge with a steady stream of travelers from G Adventures. The tourism income ensures a regular revenue for the camping grounds.

2. Reef Ecologic – Whitsundays, Australia

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The Whitsundays is just right on the corner of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

The Whitsundays Islands is made up of 74 continental islands off the coast of Queensland, Australia. People from all over travel head here to see some of world’s finest white sands beaches and barrier reefs. However, a tropical cyclone swept through the Whitsundays region in 2017, decimating terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Along with the environmental and economic impacts, the ecosystem began to collapse because of damage done to the coral reefs. The lack of coral reefs affects marine life and leads to the disappearance of fish, sharks and sea turtles.

In a collaboration with Reef Ecologic, Planeterra integrated reef restoration programs into tourism experiences in the Whitsundays. With the sponsorship of a new coral garden, Reef Ecologic secured funding for monitoring efforts for the coral garden through tourism. When booking a trip to Whitsundays, Australia, travelers engage in various materials to learn about marine rehabilitation. They also physically help in reef recovery and integrate tourism with the community.

3. Soa Zara – Ranohira, Madagascar

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Approximately 22% of Madagascar is forest

Located off the east coast of Africa, Madagascar is the world’s fifth-largest island. It has some of the world’s largest coral reef systems and mangrove areas. In addition, it is home to an abundance of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. However, Madagascar has lost 90% of its original forests because of destruction caused by humans. Deforestation is a major issue that has spurred from agriculture and fuel usage.

L’Association Soa Zara has planted over 10,000 trees, and Planeterra worked with them to create a tree planting activity for travelers staying at the ITC Lodge nearby.

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Planeterra further supports the local organization’s efforts through community outreach programs. Soa Zara helps create washbasin stations and a water filtration system. As a result, they bridge the protection of the environment with economic development for the local people. Travelers stay at the nearby ITC Lodge and have hands-on experience with planting their own trees next to the Isalo National park. In addition, travelers learn about the reforestation project and discover ways their trip can support the renewal of habitats.

4. Libaran Island – Borneo, Malaysia

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At Libaran Island, the best time to watch turtles is between July and September

On the northeast coast of Sandakan in Malaysia, there is Libaran Island. There, you will find long beaches and crystal blue water. With its beautiful sunsets, it is also called the “Turtle Island”. Libaran Island has two species of turtles – Green Turtles and Hawksbill turtles. The remote island has little economic opportunity, but the importance of the island as an endangered sea turtle nesting site also ties into the local people having the ability to earn an income on their island. 

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The Planeterra Foundation provided a grant to fund the necessary training for Libaran villagers to make souvenirs from ocean plastic waste. Local plants are weaved and local snacks are cooked to create new tourism activities while having a new way to earn income. Travelers have more opportunities to learn about the community, observe traditional craftsmanship and enjoy the local cuisine. The project helps locals increase their capability to earn an income from sustainable tourism opportunities on the island.

5. Mesilou Home Stay – Borneo, Malaysia

At Mesilou Atamis Homestay, all travelers can engage in the daily traditions of the locals

The Mesilou Atamis Homestay is “The Highest & Coldest Homestay in Malaysia.” It lies at an altitude of about 1600m above the sea, and temperatures can reach 15 degrees celsius. The cold, highland area once showcased unique and traditional cultural activities to guests, but it had become a home rental service due to the demand from domestic tourism. The community’s goal to share their unique travel became difficult to do as many travelers saw the area only as a place to stay. Since then, a large disconnect between locals and travelers resulted.

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G Adventure’s Planeterra funds improvement to the homestay operation and created new tourism activities for tourists to enjoy real experiences. As a result, the project provides opportunities for young entrepreneurs returning to their home town and turning their family home into local accommodations. Also, the community can feel that they are able to shine again after years of not having the ability to share their culture with international guests. There, travelers can engage in fishing, farming and cooking with members of the community, while economically aiding through tourism.

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.

What You Need To Know to Travel Sustainably and Meaningfully

More than Just Memorable

Painting a Rural Community Church in Jamaica
Painting a Rural Community Church in Jamaica

The more I travel, the more I find myself seeking meaningful, not simply memorable, travel experiences. This desire has taken me down the path of researching how to travel sustainably, considering the footprint that I have left on past trips, and even partaking in immersion travels where the focus is on cultural awareness and international relations.

I know first hand that this kind of travel can take a lot of time and effort to plan out, so let’s talk about some of the easy ways you can start traveling sustainably today.

Keywords of Sustainable Travel

In recent years, many keywords have emerged in regard to sustainable travel. These words include – Green Travel, Social Responsibility, and Environmental Consciousness. 

While figuring out the nuances of each term can be a bit tricky, it is important to know that they all promote the same thing – that is traveling with footprints and impact in mind.

Decide What it All Means to You

Impact Travel Alliance Mission for Sustainable travel changes
Impact Travel Alliance’s Mission for Change

Kelly Campbell, co-founder and executive director of The Village Experience, an organization we partner with, says “Green/Sustainable travel is traveling in a manner that respects and takes into consideration the local community, wildlife, and the environment.” Her company organizes tours to Kenya, India, Guatemala and other countries, that also combines giving back to the local communities.

Meghan Aftosmis, SR PR and Media Network Lead at Impact Travel Alliance, states that green travel and sustainable travel are not interchangeable concepts. Green travel connotes that it’s solely focused on environmental conservation, whereas sustainable tourism has a much broader perspective and meaning. The keys to sustainable travel are that a destination’s local people, culture, economy, and environment – are all benefited by tourism in that place. Even beyond the travel industry, businesses often describe this as a triple-bottom-line: people, planet, profit.

With this in mind, think about your own travels and decide what sustainable traveling means to you. Ask yourself how you will integrate more best practices on your next trip?

Do Your Research and Choose What’s Right

Traveling sustainably with the Village Experience on a Kenyan Safari
Sunset on a Kenyan Safari with The Village Experience

With sustainable travel, as with any kind of travel, it is important that you do your homework before you go. Doing so will ensure that you not only choose the right destination, but that you also engage with the right kind of organizations and travel companies when you get there. To get an even better understanding of the destinations practicing sustainability, check out Go Eat Give’s recommended travel destinations and blog here.

One place to start your research is to look for travel companies that have direct partnerships with locally owned hotels, restaurants, excursion tours, and shops. Choosing entities like these, over large commercial tourism companies, helps to confirm that tourism dollars stay local. This also helps the community stay economically stable and that the culture of that destination stays intact.

Prepare For the Trip

Traveling Sustainably Starts with Packing Sustainably

If you are like me, you have a stash of basic travel products that you bring on every trip. In the past couple of years, I have personally added a reusable water bottle, snap and go snack containers, a cotton wrap sheet (to be used as a beach sheet, picnic blanket, or poolside cover-up), and a packable travel towel – to my ever-growing expanse of sustainable travel gear! Each item has saved me so much time and effort while I’m jetting off from place to place. It has also cut down on the waste that I have left behind.

These Hydro Cell Stainless Steel Water Bottles keep liquids hot or cold and come in a variety of fun colors. 

Take the time to purchase a few sustainable travel products that you can reuse on all your trips. Keeping these items on hand can go a long way in saving you money, while reducing the footprint you leave behind.

Engage With The Local Community

Immersion Trip to a Guatemalan Elementary School
Immersion Trip to Guatemalan Elementary School

In addition, it is important to continue giving back to the destination you visit every time you travel. By partnering with local charities and social enterprises that have sustainable visions and missions, you’ll leave a positive footprint behind. There are many easy ways to integrate this into your next trip, no matter where you choose to go. When you travel again, consider shopping at fair trade stores, taking eco tours, joining cooking classes led by locals, and eating at locally-owned restaurants

Another way to take this a step further is by donating your time. Many local organizations offer opportunities to volunteer for a few hours to a few weeks, bring much-needed supplies, or donate any special skills you may have. It is best to find out from the local organization what assistance they need. Go only with reputable nonprofits that ensure that no one is taken advantage of in the process.

Also, some of the activities Go Eat Give volunteers have done in the past include teaching English to businessmen and women in Spain, farming on a cooperative farm in Cuba, giving lessons on health and sanitation in Indonesia, and organizing life skills classes for women in India. Anything that involves touching wildlife is typically a No Go!

Start the Connection at Home

Even when you are not traveling, you can continue to learn about sustainable and meaningful travel while at home. Doing so will ensure that you have the right mindset before you take off on your next adventure.

The nonprofit travel organization, Impact Travel Alliance offers a series of virtual events that introduce travelers to a sustainable mindset. These are educational, offering facts and perspective from travel industry members from around the world. All events are free, but donations directly support their travel partners.

If you are ready to start planning your vacation, with sustainability in mind, of course, The Village Experience is offering $100 off any 2021 trip listed on their website. Make sure to mention this post when you book!

~By Jordan Dunn, Marketing and Communications Intern at Go Eat Give. Jordan is a Public Relations and Communications Marketing Major at Siena College in Upstate NY. She has a passion for writing, traveling, and advocacy. Follow her on Facebook and Blog about her personal travels.

Cinnamon Hotels – Integrating Travel With Culture

One of the things I am mindful of when traveling is picking accommodations that are sustainable. Even if I’m staying at resorts or chain hotels, I do some research to check what kind of programs they have in place to support the local community, culture and the environment. I’ll also check hotels that rent by the month to see what type of tourists/ residents it’s attracting. For example, in the UK, various hotels accommodate the community by offering weddings at their accommodation, bringing everyone together in affordable but classy ceremony. For example, wedding venues high wycombe offers just that, with an ideal setting and hotel chefs creating the menu. This is what I mean, accommodation that can offer so much more than just a bed to sleep on. So when Sri Lanka based Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts invited me to experience some of their hotels around the country, I was excited to see how they integrate the local culture and cuisine into their luxurious hotels.

Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts offered a diverse range of accommodations from beach front to rustic jungle lodges. Here are some cultural activities you can do at each of the hotels:

Cinnamon Grand Colombo

Located in the heart of the capital city of Colombo, Cinnamon Grand is a luxury hotel with 13 eateries, spa and shopping center. From here, you can also walk to the beach and Spa Ceylon next door. I watched traditional masked dances here and ate at a mile long buffet of authentic local dishes served in clay pots, including hoppers, crab curry, beet root curry, tempered banana flowers, fish ambulthiyal, coconut roti, homemade pickles, and fresh cut mangoes. The dinner experience created in one of their gardens felt as if I was attending a Sri Lankan wedding!

Cinnamon Bey Beruwala

The South West Coast of Sri Lanka is home to the first Muslim settlement on the island, established by Arab traders. This also gives inspiration to the Moorish decor of Cinnamon Bey, with bright spacious rooms overlooking the Indian Ocean created by Channa Daswatte, one of the island’s most talented architects and creative minds.

I was mesmerized by the men wearing white blouses and loose pants twirling at lightening speeds as they welcomed us with the traditional southern dance. Then, the chef took me to the Beruwala fish harbor, a local fish market to pick the fresh catch where you can see fisherman coming into the beach at sunset, and served it for dinner at the Rock Salt restaurant. I visited a mask museum and watched craftsman make wood masks, a few hundred year old tradition. In season, you can visit the nearby Kosgoda turtle hatchery.

Cinnamon Wild Yala

Bordering Yala National Park, the rustic cottages at Cinnamon Wild Yala are a great place to see wildlife. I could see buffalos and monkeys right outside my room, and even heard elephants at the watering hole at night. You can walk to the tiny fishing village and hike on the sand dunes. There are also bird watching and night safari tours you can do in the area.

During the day, I went on a jeep safari into the national park, which is said to have one of the highest densities of leopards in the world. Because of the constant tug between wild leopards attacking farm animals and farmers encroaching on forests, Cinnamon Wild built protective fences and cages for domestic animals. This has helped the leopard population thrive.

Cinnamon Citadel Kandy

The resort is ideally located away from the bustling city of Kandy, on a green hill by Mahaveli River, the longest river in the country. It has an open lobby, an expansive pool, and restaurant with great views of the tropics. Nearby, visit the famous Temple of the Tooth Relic, visited by Buddhists from all over the world.

Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon

This was my favorite property because of its artsy style with colorful murals at the reception and sweeping views of the ocean. The white beach dotted with coconut trees is perfect for snorkeling, surfing or just relaxing. I used Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon as a base to explore the UNESCO town of Galle with its Dutch colonial buildings, boutique shops and trendy restaurants. Also, I saw my first blue whale at a whale watching experience from nearby Mirissa.

Nature Trails, the wildlife and nature based tourism arm of Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts creates experiences for nature and adventure loving travelers, taking them into the natural world of Sri Lanka, celebrating the endless wilderness, admiring the natural heritage and showcasing the true essence of Sri Lanka’s rural beauty, its people and places while treading lightly off the beaten tracks of this magical island.