G Adventures - Future of Tourism

G Adventures talks sustainable travel at Future of Tourism event

TORONTO — Industry experts at G Adventures’ ‘Future of Tourism’ discussed how travel could play a role in community development and improve livelihoods. The adventure travel company also launched a new trip style and announced its upcoming mobile app.

The event, held at Toronto’s Koerner Hall last night, sold out with more than 1,100 RSVPs. There were also more than 480 viewers streaming online from 14 countries.

“The world is going to be very different for the next generation,” said Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures and sustainable travel advocate. “There’s a race to preserve some of the most iconic destinations for future generations.”

And we’re reaching a tipping point where people want their holiday to match their values, he said.

In 10 years, tourism will grow to 10% of the global GDP or $10 trillion annually, which could be a new form of wealth distribution. “For the world’s 40 poorest countries, tourism is the second-largest source of revenue after oil,” said Poon Tip. And tourism can impact communities – if it’s done right.

“Certainly tourism can create jobs, but for far too many communities, tourism doesn’t actually bring the benefits they’d like,” said Jamie Sweeting, president of the Planeterra Foundation. “It’s taken more than it’s given.”

One issue is that for every US$100 spent by tourists in developing countries, only US$5 remains in the local economy. “Your travel choice does make a difference,” said Sweeting. And that includes all-inclusive resorts and cruises.

“I’m a firm believer in sustainable all-inclusives,” said Sweeting. “There are all-inclusive companies that spend a tremendous amount of time and effort investing in local communities; they’ve got management schemes to bring local people (up the ranks). It doesn’t have to be a bad thing.”

G Adventures also announced it’s launching rail adventures – from classics to off-the-beaten-path options – as well as a new mobile app that will be available Dec. 1 on Google Play and the Apple Store.

The app can be used offline (without WiFi), and is integrated with the client’s profile when they book a trip, including emergency numbers and agency information, as well as their itinerary, maps and alerts.

“It’s a companion that could make it easier for (travel agents) to sell by supplying the customer with more information, but at the same time use it as a way to access the traveller when they come back,” Poon Tip told Travelweek. “The next component will be a social component where they can communicate with their agent on the ground.”

Some 70% of G Adventures’ business comes through travel agents. “So this is set up to keep the integrity of their relationship, but also allow (clients) to get better prepared before they go, a better experience on the ground and better interaction with their group.”