Pay It Forward Friday with Planeterra Foundation

May 2013

There’s lots of talk these days about sustainable travel-but what does that actually mean? Planeterra is a non-profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve their environment and provide supportive solutions to local problems.  Through a  global network of travel industry partners, they work towards sustainable travel in the destinations they serve worldwide.
This video gives a great overview of just how far those dollars spread and the impact reached on the global economy.

From the Site:

Founded in 2003, by global travel company G Adventures’ owner and founder, Bruce Poon Tip, Planeterra has a history of raising funds for the communities where G Adventures and its industry partners operate. Bruce believed that it was each person’s duty to show the ultimate respect and appreciation of these people and places by giving back.
Planeterra’s close partnership with G Adventures has given our team an insider’s understanding of the challenges facing these places; this unique perspective in turn guides us to design effective, long-term solutions that provide autonomy and lasting opportunity for local people while conserving local environments.

How They Work

At Planeterra, we reach out to travelers, organizations and global citizens like you to make a donation and invest in specific, sustainable solutions to support the places you love.
We take a serious, holistic look at how we can help these iconic destinations emerge from being exploited, to using the tools it takes to support happy communities living with proper healthcare, education, and protected environments. This means finding better jobs, sending their children to better schools, drinking cleaner water and caring for their environment.
Thanks to your support, we are able to work side-by-side with community members to identify the social and environmental obstacles they are facing. Together we create customized, long-term solutions to get to the root of the problem and restore the community’s ability to make informed decisions for the benefit of their people and for the long-term health of their environment.
Why doesn’t more tourist money reach the people who would benefit from it the most?  It’s just as important to keep it local when you travel as it is at home.  Investing in the local economy when you’re on the road  is a way to keep it sustainable and grow the small businesses from within. Search out restaurants that serve local produce, buy from vendors that are using local craftspeople {not importing from China crafts that look local}. On a recent trip to Great Harbor Cay in the Bahamas, I saw much of the town leaving in the morning in small boats.  When I asked where they were headed, I was told “to a small island just north that services the cruise ships visiting the area.” It turns out the small island had been turned into a tourist trap complete with huts and dressed up locals.  The merchandise the tourists were loading up on and hauling back to the cruise ships had been purchased on the mainland, imported from China and made to look handcrafted from the area with shells and palm fronds.  Meanwhile the local town was in a state of decay and there was no industry to speak of to support the residents.  It was a viscous cycle that would be hard to break.  This is just the sort of problem that Planeterra is addressing, and I hope you’ll visit their site to find out more.
Photo courtesy Planeterra