Pandemic has ‘amplified’ awareness of environmental issues, says G Adventures

G Adventures is adapting its range of holidays because the pandemic has raised awareness of sustainability and ‘meaningful’ travel, says the operator’s founder.

Bruce Poon Tip said more travellers are now looking to fly less often and stay closer to home, so the adventure specialist is adding ‘mini adventures’ and offering more short-haul options.

He has also been impressed by the response to G Adventure appeals which support communities in the destinations offered by the operator.

“There is a lot of talk about carbon emissions – people are talking about flying less,” he said.

“The whole flight shaming that went on just before the pandemic has amplified to a fever pitch during this pandemic,” he said.

“How people use their vacation time, it is just going to be very, very different. People have looked to explore their own countries…and closer to home.”

He said the launch of new ‘mini-adventures’ that can bolt onto longer stays are a response to the slow travel trend.

“People are going to want to travel less frequently, but stay longer, so we are putting our programmes together to be component-based, so that people can put many different experiences together,” he said.

“It is a completely different way of operating in terms of planning dates and how people can put things together.”

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Another post-pandemic trend will see more people seeking ‘meaningful’ travel, he said.

Mainstream holidays will remain but if a small number of holidaymakers switch to sustainable, community-based tourism, it can have a “positive impact”.

“We’re never going to get rid of the cruises or compound resorts and those kind of holidays which will always have a place and a purpose,” he said.

“It just takes a small group of people to change the way they travel to have a massive impact on the landscape of travel.”

He said more mainstream media outlets are talking about meaningful travel – an issue that has been central to his business ethos for 30 years.

“The minute people start talking about it, and asking questions about it, is when you create a market for it,” he said.

He said the pause in travel prompted people to look more critically at the focus on amenities – such as go-kart racing on cruise ships or the thread counts on sheets.

“We looked back and said, ‘That’s kind of ridiculous’, where the travel industry was, when we were so focused on selling amenities over the destination,” he said.

Despite the pandemic, G Adventures has managed to reach its target of supporting 100 community projects by the end of 2020.

“We wanted to live up to our commitments as a business,” he said.

“A lot of communities that have struggled through, tourism was their only thing. It has been tough.”

Furthermore, the operator has raised money from clients and partners, and matched their donations, in order to give grants to 35 community projects, ranging from education assistance to food parcels and medicines.

“We’ve done more than any other company could have done or has done but we could do more,” he said.

“Our travellers are amazing that way, especially people that have visited a lot of these projects,” he said.

“It’s overwhelming, at this time of need, because we’re asking people to help people that many of them have visited on our trips, or they loved the reason why they travelled for us.

“It has given us a reason to have a dialogue with our customers that transcends travel. That’s been amazing for us.”

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