As travellers become increasingly aware of the social and environmental impact of their travels, many are beginning to look for ways to give back to the communities they visit. The great news is that there are now a growing number of organisations with social and environmental aims that you can book through. These social enterprises in travel and tourism offer a great opportunity to ensure your travel has broader social value…
A social enterprise is an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximise improvements in social and environmental well-being, alongside making profits.
Social enterprises are part of the ‘third sector’, a term used to describe organisations that are neither strictly public nor private enterprises. This includes voluntary and community organisations, social enterprises, mutual societies and co-operatives.
Social enterprises in travel will generally have social, community or environmental goals. So, booking your travel, tours or accommodation through a social enterprise can have far-reaching benefits.
Top 5 social enterprises in travel
Here are my top 5 social enterprises in travel (in no particular order):
1. Good Hotel
Good Hotel is a concept introduced by the Good Group, a non-dividend company founded on the belief that one day all business should be social business. They aim to redefine how business is done – combining making a profit with doing good.
Through Good Training they offer long-term unemployed people access to a unique hospitality training programme and a chance to re-integrate into the economy. After successfully completing the theory stage, trainees get on-the-job training and a full-time salary at Good Hotel, after which they are helped towards a permanent job in the local economy.
The latest location, Good Hotel London, is a unique re-designed floating platform on the River Thames, but you can find Good Hotel elsewhere too.
The aim of Visit.org is to make socially-conscious travel easy, fun, and accessible to all by providing an online platform through which you can book tours. Organisations and not-for-profits register with the site, and their tours are vetted to ensure they meet social and environmental criteria, giving you peace of mind.
Visit.org features culturally-immersive, impactful activities from around the world. You can pick from a selection of experiences, ranging from one hour to multi-day tours, building an itinerary for your trip without having to spend loads of time researching for yourself.
The benefit to participating organisations is that the Visit.org platform links them with potential visitors from around the world, allowing them to participate in a global economy, and ensuring tour revenue can continue to be invested back into the local community.
You can read more about Visit.Org in this previous post.
3. G Adventures
G Adventures is not only a major player in the adventure travel field, but also a social enterprise. They recognise that the planet is their product and the social value of what they do is just as important as the profit they generate.
Their mission is to help people and communities thrive through solutions, not handouts. They do this by providing resources and opportunities for local people to develop and strengthen their communities, and their network of travellers provides communities with the long-term income to make solutions sustainable.
They do this through their foundation, the Planeterra Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to ensuring communities touched by tourism benefit from the opportunities it provides.
Planeterra works to promote sustainable solutions and economic growth for communities, managing over 50 projects in under-served regions all over the world. They have a focus on supporting rural and indigenous communities, women and at-risk youth.
Brian Young, managing director of G Adventures EMEA, said:
“As a social enterprise, G Adventures brings underserved communities into the tourism supply chain and supports community development projects that help people help themselves. Through the work of our non-profit foundation Planeterra, we have launched and supported 50 projects globally, which are helping give men, women and children greater access to education, health care and sustainable income that honours their traditional way of life.
“Last year G Adventures launched an ambitious imitative to build 50 more projects over the next five years. By 2020, we will have incorporated them into around 93% of our tours, empowering our travellers to help us positively impact even more people through tourism, and at the same time giving them a unique and unforgettable travel experience.”
4. Unseen Tours
Unseen Tours is a social enterprise working with the homeless, ex-homeless and vulnerably-housed Londoners to provide tours of the city with a difference. It evolved from the inspiring work of The Sock Mob, a volunteer network that engages with men and women living on the streets of London.
Unseen Tours takes this model a step forward by providing paid work as a tour guide to vulnerably-housed individuals, showcasing their creativity and resourcefulness while taking you on a great tour to parts of the city you might never otherwise see with people you might never otherwise meet.
The tours aim to show London’s historical and cultural quirks in an unusual and entertaining way and address the issue of homelessness, making a point about the state of the world we live in and the issue of social injustice.
5. Travel Matters
Travel Matters Enterprises is a not-for-profit social enterprise with twin objectives: they operate both as a fully bonded Travel Agency and as a training centre for people recovering from mental health problems.
Travel Matters aims to make a difference to people’s lives, building confidence, realising potential and offering a bridge to work for people in the community facing barriers to employment. All the proceeds from the travel agency go towards the running costs of the training, so every booking makes a difference.
As a fully-bonded travel agency, they arrange anything from domestic flights to worldwide tailor-made holidays, booking package holidays, city breaks, flights, hotels, taxi transfers, car hire, visas, travel insurance, cruises, ferries, and rail tickets for both leisure and business travel.
These are just a few examples of social enterprises in travel, a growing trend in the tourism industry. So, next time you book your holidays, or search for a tour or accommodation, why not have a think about how you can get the best social value from your spending and consider booking through one of these social enterprises in travel.
Featured image used with kind permission of Redrocks (Rwanda) and Visit.Org. All other photos used with kind permission of G Adventures.
I am a Visit.Org Ambassador and I have used an affiliate link in this post. If you book a tour through this link I will get a small commission, at no extra cost to you, which helps with the running costs of the blog.