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Planeterra Puts People and Places at Center of Its New Strategic Agenda

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TORONTO, ONPlaneterra, an international non-profit organization based in Toronto, Canada is accelerating its capacity to support a growing number of sustainable development projects worldwide, in places where Gap Adventures and its travel industry partners operate adventure and cultural tours.

Founded in 2003 by Gap Adventures’ owner and founder, Bruce Poon Tip, Planeterra intends to break new ground by backing long-term solutions in key travel destinations worldwide. By leveraging small-scale businesses, creating ecosystem-wide solutions, and supporting essential human needs, Planeterra puts the people and places travelers visit at the center of its agenda.

“Planeterra revised its mission statement, and we’re now moving dynamically to help empower local people in travel destinations, to help develop their communities, preserve their cultures, protect their environment and create a humane and supportive system for their endeavors,” says Megan Epler Wood, the organization’s executive director.

Since 2007, Planeterra has facilitated the development of voluntours worldwide, by vetting projects where travelers share their time and skills with local people and community projects in destinations around the world. With a growing team of local Planeterra specialists the organization provides expert guidance and professional advice to the many projects incorporated into these voluntours. Planeterra allows its travel industry partners to manage and operate the voluntours.

Travelers who want to give back to the destinations and communities they visit support Planeterra’s work.  Travelers help build momentum behind a small business economy, which combined with fair trade and organic products can produce growing investment in environmentally sound and socially responsible development.

Planeterra will continue engaging travelers and the global travel community to help provide critical funds for investment in sustainable development projects that focus on specific needs in destinations around the world.

Planeterra is establishing a set of four funds, which will channel steady investment in social, environmental, and business solutions that are needed in the destinations worldwide.

The organization’s global team is developing a systematic approach to quickly identify recipients for its investments through its new model and collaborating closely with its travel partners to ensure recipients benefit not only from donations but also from the opportunities the travel economy can generate. Planeterra endeavors to finance the following social and environmental responsibility funds:

-Emergency Preparedness & Response: Emergency response to climate related and natural disasters in travel destinations where our travel partners can donate effectively to help the area recover.

-Destination Preservation: Improvement to the management of iconic destinations, which lack basic planning and infrastructure and urgently need systems for ensuring important historic monuments and human heritage are supported and conserved in the long-term.

-Social & Environmental: Equitable solutions to human needs in tourism hubs – where travelers gather and stay in hotels, use local services, and prepare for their journeys. This includes conservation of ecosystems where travel impacts are increasing and funds are lagging for conserving the beautiful beaches, coral reefs, rain forests, wild rivers, high mountains, and deserts upon which the travel community depends.

-Small Business Development: Entrepreneurial community small business development, where the travel economy brings growing opportunities to villages and local vendors who supply our travel partners.

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