Well one potential match I’ve had my beady eye on for some time now is the eco travel focused The Adventure Company. Set up in August 2006 to support small, local projects in the countries they tour, every adventurer booking with them is invited to donate £1 which is then matched by The Adventure Company. 100% of the money raised helps in-country projects every year. Contributions made across 137 tours help to support 18 further wildlife and community projects around the world.
Now I’m delighted to report that The Adventure Company has reached a fresh milestone of raising over £100,000. Contributions made by the small group adventure and eco travel specialist (and its customers) over the last six years have helped a range of locally run grass root projects. The worldwide causes include the building of new wells in Borneo, reforestation in Peru, a Kenyan programme to stop wildlife being snared for meat and helping a homeless children’s charity in India buy medical supplies.
39% of the funds were raised through £1 passenger donations matched by The Adventure Company Foundation. The remaining 61% was raised through designated contributions made by The Adventure Company across 137 of its tours.
Claire Wilson, MD of The Adventure Company, told me: “One of our most recent donations has gone towards supporting orphaned children in Uganda where our £2,611 donation has helped the Bwindi Watoto School build four new classrooms and a further £1,350 will go towards furniture and installing window shutters. In addition to our commitment to investing as much as possible on a local level by using locally-owned agents, transport and accommodation, we believe adventure travel is about opening your eyes to new cultures and ways of life. We created The Adventure Company Foundation as a way of maximising the positive effects tourism can bring to the destinations we visit. By encouraging our travellers to become involved in grass root initiatives we hope to make a genuine difference and bring long-term benefits to communities.”
Having pioneered the family adventure concept over 15 years ago, The Adventure Company remains the UK’s leading family adventure and eco travel specialist with 113 dedicated family holidays. Family itineraries are tailored to suit children of all ages, from infants to teenagers, and cater for all levels of experience, from those new to adventure to seasoned travellers. Eco travel Trips vary from multi-activity holidays and exotic animal encounters to Hands On Adventures interacting with local community and environmental projects, plus dedicated teen trips.
A range of over 250 adult and family small group adventures across the continents combine ‘must-see’ highlights with unforgettable cultural experiences. The collection allows holidaymakers to enjoy some of the world’s most iconic treks, spot wildlife on safari, get under the skin of local cultures, camp under the stars or try out new activities such as white-water rafting and dog-sledding, From Argentina to Zambia, all trips are led by local guides who provide an invaluable cultural insight. Last year they even introduced expert led family photography and family astronomy holidays.
We’ve come along way since I first started pursuing the cause of eco travel for families. What held true back then still holds true today, best coined by my friend Tricia Barnett, of the campaigning organisation Tourism Concern. “It would be fabulous if all families could instill in their children the idea that when we’re on holiday we are all guests in somebody else’s home. While it is your holiday for just two weeks, it is someone else’s home for a lifetime.”
To be part of a holiday that helps (wherever you happen to travel this summer) start by supporting the local economy by buying produce that has been made or grown nearby. And be sure to pay a fair price for the goods or services you buy. Haggling for the lowest possible price might save you pennies, but deprive the vendor of a day’s salary. Use public transport, hire a bike, visit local restaurants and carnivals, find out where the locals go, and get off the well-trodden tourist route. That way, you will not only get under the skin of the island, but ensure that your money goes into the pockets of those who need it most.
There is no better way to experience the culture of a nation than through its people. Heavily patrolled, all-inclusive hotels only serve to heighten visitors’ fears of life beyond the duty-free gift-shop and create a feeling among locals that tourists are there to be endured, not enjoyed. Abandon the lame hotel lounge, learn some local lingo and put the guidebook away for a while. Ask questions instead: you will find out more from the lady at the local grocery store than you will from any guidebook.
And, of course, when you’re booking, try to seek out tour companies that mention environmental or conservation issues, and those that invest some of their profits back into local charities and initiatives. My heartfelt congratulations go out once again to The Adventure Company. This year alone they hope to raise over £24,000 towards local community and wildlife projects. An additional target of £19,000 has also been set to help offset customers’ carbon emissions. These funds will go towards the work currently carried out with the non-profit organisation Blue Ventures Carbon Offset – distributing solar and energy efficient stoves to communities in Madagascar.
As a customer you even get your own say in where contributions go. This year’s adventurers have selected The Esther Benjamin’s Trust to be the next project to benefit from their holiday donations. The trust works to rescue Nepalese children who have been trafficked or displaced into India and provide them with education and skills that enable them to become independent and reintegrated into society.
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