Miami, Florida Travel Agent
I had a very affluent family as clients early on in my career who ran a family foundation. I arranged an African Safari for them and knew they wanted to do more than just see animals; they wanted to be immersed in the local culture. So I arranged for a guide from the luxury lodge they were staying in to take them to his own village. It was a secret surprise for the patriarch of the family. They had t-shirts made and actually played a soccer match with the town team!
Upon returning from the trip, they decided they wanted to give back to the community that welcomed them so warmly. So they wound up making a large donation—managed and deployed by the local people—which funded a school, an orphanage and a medical clinic. They met a real need and created jobs. This is what inspired me and helped me understand and become passionate about sustainable travel in Africa and across the world.
To me, travel is not just about what you take away from a place, but what you contribute, meeting people, and appreciating a new culture. Especially in the luxury travel market, I really try to encourage my clients to book resorts that have good relationships with the local community. This a concept something I try, when appropriate, to present to my philanthropically-minded clients.
Some notable pioneers in this area include Singita in Africa; Six Senses (especially Duoro Valley, Portugal); Curtain Bluff, Antigua, which gives scholarships to teh children of their employees; Sol y Luna in Peru's Sacred Valley and the Explora Lodges in Patagonia.