How can a tour operator adapt to the new trend of community tourism?

Linh Ngan
Linh Ngan
05:30:31 - October 06, 2020

With the vision to change the world through travel, the Canadian tour operator G Adventures not only helps bringing travelers closer to local communities all around the world but also makes sure their customers are safe and have authentic experiences while harmonizing tourism and community development.

What is G Adventures?

G Adventures is an operator of small-group escorted tours that is based in Toronto, Ontario with 28 offices worldwide. G Adventures has been operating tours in more than 100 countries and according to statistics, it offers special itineraries for 200,000 travelers from 160 countries every year.

The mission of G Adventure is to connect travelers with fascinating places and amazing people to welcome them into a global community of curious travelers dedicated to social and economic change as it believes travel can help local and indigenous people who are usually marginalized or underestimated.

So what did G Adventures do to contribute to community tourism and still be ready with the trend?

  • It highlights the quality of each trip while ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved.

G Adventures has conducted a survey into travel trends post-COVID and found that 69% of travelers expect to have some changes for their health and safety from the travel companies. Particularly, 52% of the surveyed expect operators to incorporate physical distancing measures and 88% of them anticipate that in the “new normal” travel should focus on sanitization and cleaning procedures.

Therefore, G Adventures has joined forces with the Adventure Travel Trade Association to create and implement new industry COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, in association with Cleveland Clinic. These are designed to ensure that adventure activities such as trekking, biking and rafting are conducted safely, and that all community tourism efforts protect vulnerable communities.

Especially, a new Travel with Confidence Plus Collection features adventures to destinations like Northern Spain and Costa Rica that embrace smaller group sizes (though G Adventures have already been concentrating on operating tours for small groups of travelers), and in which more physical distancing measures are implemented. Last but not least, this tour operator even offers private transport to give both travelers and locals greater peace of mind when it comes to travel. With such small groups, it can easily create itineraries off the beaten path so that travelers can easily immerse themselves in the extraordinary of fascinating cultures, customs and awe-inspiring wildlife.

  • It collaborates and works closely with and for the local communities.

Research from the United Nations Environmental Programme reveals that from every 100 USD a tourist spent on their travel, only 5 USD are invested back into the economy of the destinations. This means once international tourism is resumed, every destination will be drawn into a competition to preserve the cash flow within itself. G Adventures works with local communities to make sure travelers invest their money in the right place, and to rebuild and empower local communities from every dollar spent.

G Adventures trains and uses local tour guides called “Chief Experience Officers” (CEOs) around the world. In addition to the standard support required to run trips, the company also equips them with further skills, training, and even financial capital to generate income that can be filtered back into their communities.

As the local people in these communities are also struggling with the lack of income tourism provides due to the pandemic, G Adventures has set-up three benevolent funds, a CEO Wellbeing Fund to support its CEOs, plus funds for Inca Trail porters and support staff, and Planeterra community projects that typically rely on tourism to survive and flourish. Pre-pandemic, another fund named G Values Fund was taking community tourism one step further by providing mentoring and financial assistance to former CEOs so they could make a living and contribute to their societies beyond their tenure as G employees.

This proves that it does not just take advantage of the local communities and exploit them till the very last value but to help them promote their cultures and customs in a more effective way while supporting them financially in heritage preservation. Not only bringing travelers to rural destinations where the local communities live, working and training the locals to welcome visitors but now G Adventures is also offering a hand in maintaining the life of these communities in such a difficult time.

  • It also assists other travel agents in grasping a better understanding of community tourism.

According to the insights report into travel agents’ perspectives on community tourism from Skift, 54% of those surveyed would book travel and experiences for clients with companies that support sustainability and environmental issues while 79% would like to better understand the positive financial impact of their purchase decisions on local communities during travel.

Aware that the travel agents are also on the frontline of how travel industry products are bought and sold, G Adventures has launched a program called Change Makers to incentivize and empower travel agents to become advocates of community tourism and to witness the power of the model first hand even before the pandemic broke out. By hosting regular workshops, which are held virtually now, with agent travel partners, G Adventures helps them understand how community tourism works so that they can become the next “agent of change”.

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