Toronto, Ontario – Cited for their commitment to socially and environmentally responsible travel practices, Planeterra Foundation and its founding partner, Gap Adventures were the co-winners of the 2009 Responsible Travel and Tourism Forum Leadership Award presented by Baxter Travel Media and Air Canada.
Brad Ford, Director of Business Development for Gap Adventures and Liz Manning, Sustainability Manager for Planeterra accepted the award at the 3rd annual Responsible Travel and Tourism Forum (RTTF) held at The Old Mill Inn in Toronto. Some of the key companies in attendance included Sandals Resorts, Transat, GlobeScan, Virgin Holidays, Air Canada, and Flight Centre Canada.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the RTTF for our efforts to this point. We really feel, though, that our dedication to sustainable community development through travel has just begun and we invite the industry to join us,” stated Richard G. Edwards, Planeterra’s director.
The Leadership Award was established to recognize an organization’s corporate social responsibility practices and is open to tour operators, agents, accommodation providers and destinations throughout Canada. Nominations are evaluated by a panel of five independent judges who are experts in the areas of corporate social responsibility, environmental sustainability, travel and tourism and travel media.
Planeterra Foundation and Gap Adventures received the award in part, for their work with local communities to improve their way of life while protecting and even benefitting the local environment. Cited was Planeterra’s Brazil Community Reforestation Program that engages and trains indigenous peoples in determining their own land-use practices in a move toward greater self-sufficiency, while reforesting lands in Brazil where much of the world’s rainforest loss has taken place.
This program, which will result in 450,000 trees planted by the end of 2009, will provide the communities and local farmers of Parana, São Paulo, Marilia, Oriente and Londrina with access to training workshops and seedlings, so that they can increase food production, create natural barriers on their lands, provide shade and fodder for livestock and other animals.
Planeterra currently has over 30 different projects in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Polar regions. They are focused in the areas of health, poverty alleviation, education, and conservation with an overall aim to create positive changes and development in local communities through travel and voluntourism.
Funding is received from donations from travelers who have visited a Planeterra project either as a volunteer or as part of a Gap Adventures tour. All individual donations are matched by Gap Adventures resulting in 200% of an original donation going directly to the project of the donors’ choice. Gap Adventures also covers all of Planeterra’s administration and operating costs, a rarity with most non-profits.
For details on Planeterra’s global projects and the opportunities it offers travelers to roll up their sleeves and assist communities at the grass roots level, see:
About Planeterra Foundation and Gap Adventures: Planeterra Foundation is a global non-profit dedicated to sustainable community development through travel. It was founded in 2003 by Gap Adventures, the largest independent adventure travel company in the world. Planeterra evolved out of a long history of travelers committed to finding ways to give back to the people and places they visit. Planeterra selects the projects and works with Gap Adventures to arrange voluntour travel programs worldwide.
For information on Planeterra’s year-round voluntour programs please go to http://www.planeterra.org/pages/voluntours/4.php or call 416-260-0999
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