Tourism is an important contributor to sustainable development, economic growth, employment and cross-cultural understanding, and travel experiences will play a key role in post-pandemic recovery efforts for our local and global communities. Inspired by the concepts of community tourism and regenerative tourism, Global Family Travels created some impactful outdoor adventures that address social and environmental issues to help regenerate Greater Seattle’s local communities, non-profits and businesses.
Much more than a traditional tour operator, Seattle-based Global Family Travels’ mission is to Learn, Serve and Immerse using travel to build cultural bridges and to foster global citizens. Using tourism to help solve community challenges, we organize sustainable travel opportunities in partnership with local and global non-profit organizations and support many communities.
In developing their new domestic tours, the company was inspired by the principles of regenerative tourism and reached out to several Seattle-area non-profit organizations that address social and environmental challenges to work together. The collaborative community experiences Global Family Travels launched are designed to create meaningful connections and support Destination Stewardship, including the preservation of diverse and native cultures, conservation, education, and economic growth of Greater Seattle.
These new Seattle Community Tours offer the opportunity for guests to visit urban/community gardens, learn about the region’s coal mining history with an interactive hike in the woods, enjoy a bike adventure around the city’s lake while learning about the various neighborhoods around it, including the boating history, as well as talking to the artists behind some of Seattle’s most vibrant street art while on a tour. The company also partnered with First Nature Tours to develop regenerative weekend adventures, to learn about salmon habitat recovery and cultural engagement with tribal citizens on the Olympic Peninsula, and to help rebuild communities devastated by forest fires in Oregon, while enjoying outdoor adventures.
“Community tourism can be a catalyst for positive change in a destination and these local adventures offer the opportunity for locals, travelers and host community members to create meaningful connections and support destination stewardship in the Pacific Northwest,” said Jennifer Spatz, chief executive and founder of Global Family Travels.
Community Tours in Support of Black Lives Matter and Climate Change
Several months into the pandemic and in the wake of the wrongful deaths of many black Americans, including George Floyd, Global Family Travels made a commitment to partner with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and to help amplify their voices through community-based tourism experiences. Some of them reveal the history of unjust and oppressive policies, such as housing segregation and redlining*. For example, in collaboration with Seattle’s Black Famers Collective, last November the company introduced the Power of Community Gardens, an enriching experience in the heart of Seattle which offers the opportunity to learn about the power of community gardens and creative solutions to systemic land and food injustices.
In May, the company will begin operating additional Seattle community tours, including a Street Art tour in the Central District, an epicenter for the African American community and communities of color, to explore the vast and varied public, yet underground world of graffiti. Each of these new adventures are in partnership with one or more community or non-profit partners, and supports their missions.
Goals of Community & Regenerative Tours
Through the company’s Learn, Serve & Immerse travel pillars, Global Family Travels’ aspirations with their community tours are to:
- Help locals and visitors be stewards of our environment by creating connections to our great outdoors and urban areas and communities.
- Help foster global citizens and creating advocates for social and environmental justice issues.
- Cultivate an understanding our place of belonging, and the interconnection of people and places in our communities.
Ensuring Sustainability, Diversity and Inclusion through Tourism
Tourism is an essential ingredient for the economic recovery of many destinations and with the pandemic, our industry is being given an unprecedented opportunity right now to rethink tourism to make it more sustainable and resilient. Protecting environmental resources and biodiversity, respecting the cultural heritage and values of a destination, and ensuring that host communities benefit economically are paramount to sustainability. A larger and more important shift in the travel industry this past year is the recognition among many travel brands that travel can be used to shed light on diverse voices, and should be used to educate, and even help heal some of the social and environmental injustices in our world.
Travel is a powerful tool, and provides us with an opportunity to practice empathy, and think about how you as a traveler can expect and take care of the community you are visiting. “With these Seattle Community adventures, we hope to contribute to a stronger community and share the good work of some Seattle-area non-profit organizations that address community challenges,” says Jennifer Spatz. “We believe in cultivating compassion, justice, and inclusivity for visitors and local community members, forces that inspire participants to take action to help achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”
*Redlining policies restricted folks from receiving home loans, jobs, access to stores, restaurants, hotels, hospitals and basic liberties outside of these designated or “redlined” areas.
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