Did you know that tourism accounts for an estimated 9% of global GDP? That is a huge impact! Travel as we know it is no longer sun, sand and all inclusive resorts – it is a means of connection, an exchange with a globally linked economy, and an opportunity to deepen the values held at home in the broader context of the world.
This is why the UN has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Here are their goals (and be sure to check out their video!) and a bit of how Traverse has integrated them into our trips this year. We hope you can come experience it with us!
Inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Emerging economies are experiencing 4% or more annual increase in tourist arrivals from around the world. To Traverse, it’s incredibly important that we put our money into the local economy whenever possible, like by working with local surf instructors from Alex’s Surf Shop in Nicaragua.
Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction. Just because tourists visit an area doesn’t mean that the local residents necessarily benefit, especially in developing economies where opportunity is stratified. In Ecuador, we are super excited to spend a day with the local women’s cooperative in the indigenous community to engage in cultural exchange and learn how the fashion accessories that they make bring income to their tribe.
Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change. More and more travel operators are committed to reducing C02 emissions by providing green accommodations, restoring biodiversity and raising funds for conservation. 5% of Traverse’s sales go back to the community partner for each trip. On our Amazon Encounter Ecuador trip, the funds will directly support the Sani Isla community and its rainforest conservation efforts.
Cultural values, diversity and heritage. The past several centuries have wrecked havoc on many culture’s heritage, painting them as “backward,” “primitive” or “not civilized.” In fact, this rhetoric often continues today. Traverse strives to create spaces in which travelers can learn and appreciate the wisdom and knowledge traditional cultures hold, while restoring pride in these communities and providing the economic and moral support needed to preserve these traditions.
Mutual understanding, peace and security. There is nothing like a cross-cultural experience to build bridges connecting people. Visitors can see a way of life that - while perhaps different than their own - is still full of the same human experiences, while opening up perspectives they may have never considered before. Hosts can engage with other cultures that they may have only seen through media impressions and forge new friendships and understandings. Each Traverse trip has opportunities for these exchanges, such as our day in Nicaragua with Barrio Planta Project to share a love for art and language with local kids, the leaders of the next generation!