Canadian young entrepreneur /founder of G Adventures, Bruce Poon Tip told about sustainable tourism and one of his concepts ‘freedom’ and ‘happiness’ which makes a successful business model at The Center in Vancouver, Canada on May 31. (Future of Tourism )
When I first learned about G Adventures ( GAP Adventures at that time ) at tourism college in 1996, I fell in love with his concept and vision of sustainable tourism.
So what is his concept and vision?
Have you been or somebody you know has been to Varadero, Cuba ? Or any other all inclusive resorts? It is pretty much the same. You may not even tell where you are because you do not go outside of property. You do not need to if you do not want to. Because everything is there. Can you tell what does Cuba look like if you are in the resort? No matter where you are, spending money at the property stays in the property and goes to non-local people ( foreign corporations ) . So he encourages people to get out the property and eat at local restaurants, shop at local stores, use taxi, drop money to the locals. To him,
If you want the comfort of home, Please STAY HOME!
My father always says, ” I travel around the world in my living room! ” He watches travel shows and documentaries at home and he tells me he does not need to go abroad. I think he is smarter than those who just want to take pictures and proud of themselves how many countries they visit. He does not need to spend money and get the same value. Japanese do not get a long holiday. Typical holiday packages are 3, 5 7 and 10 days including flight from Japan. I have seen so many crazy itineraries such as 3 European countries in 5 days, Turkey and Egypt for 5 days and so on. I also saw comments on social media asking how to travel Angkor Wat and Halong Bay in 3 days of course including flights from Japan. Even when they have time ( Summer holiday, between jobs or retired) , somehow their schedules are rush. So sad…
Tourism changes all the time.
Now there are Eco tourism, Green tourism, Sustainable tourism, Responsible Travel, Ethic Travel … He tried to put all in one but it was impossible. If you are an extreme believer, you need to choose one. It’s slightly different and it may conflict. For example, now G Adventures use street kids for their city tour guide in Delhi. They want make differential from other tour operators. But at the same time, it also helps street kids. Then some people who against child labour may be offended. So this is not Ethic Travel. If you give just money or a shelter, it may help them temporarily. G Adventures give them training and decent money, they will learn and discover how to get out from the street by themselves and they won’t go back. This will be good for kids in a long term. When you support people, you should think about in a long run. That is sustainable.
To be honest, I did not expect I got inspired again this much. I was thinking to leave earlier. But from the beginning to the end, it was so exciting and stimulating my ideas and motivation. Even I already knew most of them, there were new up-dates. Especially
People, Planet, and Profit
Some people may think, it’s all about business and making money. But to be sustainable, you need to make money. Actually I did not realize until a few weeks ago somebody told me the company needs to make money before supporting others. When I was looking for a job at non-profit organization, I saw the salary and it was way higher than mine. Then I wondered how much percentage of the donation goes to salary? It is expensive to have fundraising events. How much actually goes to the research or people who need? Why people pay for somebody climbing Mt. Everest to raise money? Climbing Mt. Everest is very expensive. I understand it is very hard to climb but we are paying their expense. Why people do not donate without events? So that almost 100% of donation goes to the right place. I have been like Che Guevara, one of the leaders of Cuban Revolution. He tried to be the same as ordinarily people and worked like ordinarily people . He asked his wife to take a bus instead of a private car. Then I forget about myself. I love travelling because I am interested in culture and people. My heart is always getting back to people as much as I can. So I started my own charity with my friend in Nepal called The Wheel of Green Life . First I thought, Greg Moterson ( Author of Three Cups of Tea ) did it by living in a car, so why not! I can do it by living in a share house. But now, I feel it was maybe just my own selfishness. Both of us even have difficulty supporting own living. It is hard to support others. In-flight safety demonstration says ” the passenger should always fit his or her own mask before helping children, the disabled, or persons requiring assistance “. So when I hear People, Planet and Profit, I strongly felt we need this ” Triple Bottom Line ” and balance it in order to be sustainable and help others.
G Adventures and Planeterra Foundation give locals a chance to learn how to run the business. Money donation or volunteer workers from foreign countries won’t stay forever. Local needs to learn and generate own income. Also organization like G Adventures and Planeterra Foundation needs to make money to support them until they start to generate own income. They also need to support their staff. Staff has their own living, too. To get words out, you need to pay for advertise.
G Adventures use social media wisely.
They have spent money on advertisement and still they need to do to keep business going but now they are big and Social Media helps to reduce the cost. Bruce and G Adventures have so many twitter followers and the media talks about them. They raised $25,000 in just six hours and $50,000 in 2 days to save people in East Africa by building 2 water stations on the way to refugee camp. It did not cost him anything to make this happen also it was very fast thanks to the power of social media. I won’t get this result. It was because Bruce and G Adventures who always care about this kind of issues and people are aware of it. People trust their organization and activities. G Adventures use local own services ( hotels, transportations and staff), so taking their tours goes back to locals and you can also see it with your own eyes, then you can donate directly, too. Isn’t it nice to know where your support actually goes?
Happiness and Freedom brings successful business model
I always check mission and concept of the company I want to work for and the products I want to promote. I cannot work or recommend if I do not believe in. I admit I am a workaholic. I take my work very seriously. So I liked their philosophy ” Work hard and Play hard ” when I was working at GAP Adventures. Now he added a new concept.
Perceive progress + Connection + Perceive Control + Bing part of something larger than you = Happiness
If you do not like your job, when you achieve the goal, you may be good at your job but you are not happy. When you see progress, feel that you are controlling your path ( things go well as you plan), and things are all connected, you feel happy.
Bruce is a great speaker and it was fun. I highly recommend it. It is not only tourism. He talks business model to Google staff and other non-tourism companies. Anybody can get inspired.
I went to see him to say hi after the event even almost 5 years later, he still remembers my name! I just met him a few times while I was working for GAP Adventures in Vancouver store. I see he is very business-oriented and it shows through his talk but at the same time I can see that he cares people.