Bruce Poon Tip on “The Last Tourist”, Women and Sustainable Travel

by | Sep 20, 2022 | 0 comments

Last updated on September 22nd, 2022

Travel as a Force for Good

 By Carolyn Ray, Editor, JourneyWoman

Earlier this year, I was invited to the launch of the documentary The Last Tourist, executive produced by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip, and directed by Tyson Sadler.  Filmed prior to the pandemic in over 16 countries and guided by the world’s leading tourism and conservation visionaries,  the movie examines the impact of travel on the environment, wildlife, and vulnerable communities around the globe.

Now available for streaming on Crave in Canada, The Last Tourist examines the history of modern tourism, shining a light on a side of the industry that many travellers might be unaware of. It explores important issues including animals suffering for entertainment, orphaned children exploited for profit, and developing economies strained under the massive weight of foreign-owned hotel chains.

Poon Tip says the world is a different place than it was two years ago, noting that many travellers have changed what they are looking for from their vacation time.

“People are being much more intentional and purposeful with their holiday decisions – they are asking more questions about where their money is going, and whether it is helping to support local communities, which is exactly what we need. Travel wasn’t in a great place pre-pandemic,” he says.

My Q&A with Bruce Poon Tip

Speaking with Bruce in July was a thrill for me, having heard his name for so many years.  He’s a visionary and thought leader, starting his company, G Adventures,  in 1990 to bridge the divide between backpacking and mainstream travel, and to connect travellers with local people in the countries they visit. Fast forward 30 years: G Adventures is now the world’s largest small group adventure travel company, hosting 200,000 travellers per year, to 100 countries — across all seven continents.

In our discussion, Bruce and I talk about the privilege of travel and the vital role of women to make travel a force for good in the world by focusing our influence, purchasing power and making good decisions about how, when and why we travel. One of the many things we agree on is that many all-inclusive resorts and large-scale cruise ships are not sustainable ways to travel – they don’t bring dollars back into local communities, and cruising creates more problems than it helps. This is why we don’t cover cruising in our editorial and have a Slow Travel Resource Centre with tips and advice. 

Research tells us that less than 15% of the world’s population travels, yet our impact is tremendous. Sustainable travel is complex, but you should have a head start if you’ve attended our webinars over the past two years, including our most recent Sustainable Travel webinar in September with Anna Pollock, Norie Quintos and Shannon Guihan. (If not, sign up for our YouTube channel or mailing list to watch the video and key points, which will be published soon.)

The role of women in travel

Tourism is one of the world’s most important economic sectors. It employs one in every 10 people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more. Of these, most are women. Tourism also contributes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal Number 5: “To achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”

There are things we can do as women to help create a more sustainable future for all of us:

1. Be curious. Embracing a questioning mind by asking ‘how do you know?’ is a frequent discussion among women. In our recent webinar with sustainable travel expert Anna Pollock, our 2022 JourneyWoman Award winner, she recommended asking the following questions to people and communities when we travel: 

  • How can I help the people and this place thrive?
  • What are the issues you’re facing and how can I contribute?
  • How can my guests be of service to you/ your community?
  • Listen, and feel the pulse.

2. Support women and women-owned businesses in the tourism industry: Our ethos at JourneyWoman is to empower women through travel. As we consider the future of travel, we have an opportunity to recast many practices that were damaging to the environment, animals and communities.

One example of our commitment to this isour Women’s Travel Directory, which is the largest resource for women-friendly travel in the world. These women entrepreneurs provide small, highly personalized tours for women and take safety and community involvement seriously. Several of the tour operators in our community have launched funding campaigns to help local communities in hard-hit areas such as Kenya and Bali – they realize that we are all connected and dependent on each other. Read more about how we can empower women through travel here. 

3. Show gratitude for those doing it right: As Mary Poppins said, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. As with any behavioural shift (e.g. wearing seatbelts, smoking in public spaces) role models are needed to support positive change and reinforce good behaviours. We invite all women to use our platform as a forward-moving force for good. If you have a story to share,  write for us! 

Want to learn more about Sustainable Travel?

Read the articles in our Sustainable Travel section which provide tips. andstories on wildlife conservation, volunteering and choosing animal-friendly experiences.

Our Slow Travel Resource Center has information on finding long-stay accommodations, less-travelled places and budget travel. 

About the film

As well as Bruce Poon Tip, The Last Tourist features the world’s leading travel and tourism visionaries including Dr. Jane Goodall (Jane Goodall Institute, United Nations Messenger of Peace), Lek Chailert (Save Elephant Foundation), Gary Knell (National Geographic), Meenu Vadera (Sakha Cabs For Women) and Jonathan Tourtellot (Destination Stewardship Center). The Last Tourist had its U.S. premiere in March at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and is available on video-on-demand via Apple, iTunes and on HULU from June 1.

Watch the trailer below.

A passionate traveller, Carolyn believes anything is possible when we follow our heart and trust our intuition. Raised in Florida, Carolyn loves all things Latin, margaritas, the ocean and music. She's a board member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).

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