Agents gathered in Sydney last night (Tuesday) to hear more about the launch of a major new sustainable tourism initiative.
The Exodus Travels Foundation has been set up with the aim to harness the power of the travel industry in order to benefit local communities and create sustainable, meaningful change.
It will be funded by grants, contributions and fund-raising by staff, and donations. Organisers hope to have raised £500,000 (around $AU900,000) by 2022.
The UK-based company is celebrating its 45th birthday this year and has been a leader in small group, active adventures. The launch of the new foundation is part of the company’s plans to develop and expand its presence in Australia.
“As part of that 45 year celebration, we wanted to have some great new initiatives that we announce throughout the course of the year,” said Pete Rawley from Evolution Travel Collective.
“Clearly tonight is one of, if not the largest, of those initiatives that we’re announcing.”
Mr Rawley said Exodus had formed some “deep and long lasting relationships” with many of the local communities that they visited with tour groups. Various small initiatives had been set up with these communities, but the foundation has now been launched with the aim to bring all these projects together under one banner.
“It will also allow us to better use strategic resources, funding, initiatives and all the support bases to make sure that it’s a much more coordinated approach moving forward and allow us to do more across the globe across those different regions.”
At the launch event at The Ivy, agents watched a film made by guest speaker Olly Pemberton on the plight of female porters on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
“It’s an incredibly male-dominated profession and culturally a society which is very patriarchal and sadly women are viewed in a very different way in that the opportunities just aren’t there,” said Mr Pemberton.
The foundation aims to recruit and train 10 female porters a year for the next five years.
“We’re all starting to understand the role travel can play in that responsible and sustainable sector. What is interesting is that it’s now become part of a customer’s purchasing decision,” said Mr Rawley.
“The customer wants to know your social and responsible impact and your footprint and what you’re doing. It’s not who’s doing the most: it’s are you doing something?
“The more businesses that step up and contribute to this, all the better. There has been some initial collaboration across the industry, but we’d love to see a lot more from the industry as a whole.
“The role that we can play as a travel industry as a whole is significant and the time is now.”
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