Typically any conversation that revolves around the future of travel and tourism is centred on technology.
Advancements in technology are an obvious sign of how consumer trends and the mind has moved on.
However for Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, technology in the form of items like water pumps is more important than smartphones and internet access.
And that’s because Tip’s future of tourism is focused on people. On stage at the Future of Tourism event in London a few weeks ago, Tip asked the audience if the future of tourism is that it becomes a way of giving something back, or balancing the wealth distribution in the world.
Earlier in the day he’d told Travel Daily: “The travel industry has been transformed dramatically in the last 10 years and I think that with such a change comes opportunity. There’s a lot of opportunity to look at the way the world is operating now and how consumers interact with brands.”
Tip has already put his own words into practice when it comes to G Adventures. His goals to transcend the brand past being a travel company saw G become the first private company to receive funding from the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB) to use US$1 million on community projects.
Along with G Adventures’ tours and other projects, this has moved the company into what Tip calls a social enterprise, although holidays are still a vital part to its work with helping build communities and jobs.
For holidaymakers this means trips that include activities like spear fishing with tribes or visiting markets with families to cook a meal that evening.
It is the company’s Local Living programme that has been one of the most popular with tourists, with a trial of four trips in 2013 moving up to 40 this year.
“Our Local Living tours visit areas that do not normally benefit from tourism and in effect this means our customers are sharing more when they visit a country,” Tip explained. “There will be a tipping point where people will want to match their holiday with their lifestyle. Holidays are focused on discounts or spaces to fill or dates but they forget that when they get those discounts the company might be in profits but the local operators are getting squeezed. The key to sustainability is about educating the consumer about these choices. Tourism can be a force for good and create jobs.”
Tip also used the Future of Tourism event to launch his new book Looptail, described as a mixture of a business book, memoir and self-help book.
“The motivation to write the book was to have an eternal document for those in the company to show where we have been and why we do what we do,” he said.