Supporting community tourism enterprises has the potential to change millions of lives for the better as the world begins to travel again, while at the same time providing travellers with unforgettable local experiences. But few community enterprises have the knowledge or resources to fully tap into the global travel supply chain .
The Global Community Tourism Network is looking to change that. Created by international non-profit organization, Planeterra, the network seeks to change the face of travel by putting communities at the centre of tourism’s efforts, and to connect them to travel businesses that can help them to build back better after the pandemic.
Planeterra has brought together a network of more than 200 community tourism enterprises from 68 countries to share experiences and lessons learned through three main resources: a virtual community to connect with one another and share ideas and contacts, the promotion and marketing that comes with Planeterra’s global presence and connection to the travel industry and an online Learning Hub which garnered Planeterra top accolades at the 2020 WTM World Responsible Tourism Awards,
Jamie Sweeting, president of Planeterra, says training and support is often the biggest barrier for community tourism enterprises, and women, BIPOC communities, and communities in rural areas in particular lack the access they need to grow their businesses.
“Planeterra is breaking down these barriers so communities can access more revenue from travellers to achieve their community goals – be it women’s empowerment, cultural celebration, environmental conservation, improving access to healthcare and education, or building self-esteem and pride. Bringing communities together to support one another and collectively shape the future of community tourism is creating hope at a time when it’s needed most,” says Sweeting.
Planeterra has a proven track record helping community tourism enterprises earn an income. Between 2015 and 2019, the non-profit helped drive more than $10 million of tourism revenue to communities. Through the Global Community Tourism Network and strategic partnerships with international organizations including Destination Mekong, Community Homestay Network, Komu Travel, and Trade + Impact, Planeterra seeks to reach even more communities. The nonprofit has also partnered with a number of national community tourism associations in countries such as Kenya, Bolivia, and Panamá. Friends-International, Regenera, and World Animal Protection, are also advising Planeterra on learning resources around child protection, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare.
Sweeting is calling on travellers, governments, and most of all travel companies and the travel industry, to partner with Planeterra and join in the movement to build tourism back with community benefits in mind.
“We strongly believe that community tourism is the most effective way for the travel industry to positively impact host communities – and with our model, we can change millions of lives in the next few years”.
“We can’t do this alone. In order to succeed, the travel industry needs more travellers, travel companies, and governments to join Planeterra, and put communities at the heart of tourism’s recovery. This will ensure local people benefit from travel as it emerges post-COVID,” says Sweeting.