written by Samantha Cyr – TravelYep Blogger
As travellers we should be more conscious about the way we travel, be more aware of how we impact the places we visit and the footprint we leave behind. We need to ask ourselves if our presence is beneficial or detrimental? Does the money we spend on travel support the local economies and communities? Did we leave the place we visited as we found it? But most importantly, have we changed?
Just as we can calculate our ecological footprint on the planet, one Canadian tour operator took it one step further and analyzed their impact on the planet. They created a score system referred to as the “Ripple Score”, which calculates their positive impact on the planet.
The innovative company that invented this concept is Canadian Travel tour operator Gadventures. Founded by Bruce Poon Tip in 1990 in Toronto, Gadventures offers over 700 small group tours in more than 100 countries across the globe. In addition to being environmentally conscious they also founded a non-profit organization Planeterra, which promotes social and economic opportunities of local communities around the world through tourism. https://planeterra.org
This is the first company of its kind to introduce such a calculation!
So what exactly is a ripple score?
A ripple score is a percentage number on 100%, that tells you how much money stays in the country and benefits the local communities that are visited during your tour; so the higher the score, the more money stays within the community.
The main objective of the ripple score was to determine how sustainable and eco-friendly Gadventures’ tours are.
The company follows 3 steps in determining a certain tour ripple score.
First, the company needed to define their local suppliers. They then asked all their suppliers to fill out a survey about their day-to-day operation and finally they were able to calculate the percentage of money that stays within the local communities. When all was said and done, Gadventure averaged a ripple score of 93%!! I know! Crazy, right?
This means that 93% of money spent promotes local businesses and communities!
I had the pleasure of travelling with Gadventure back in 2017 and I must say, I couldn’t be happier. I travelled to India on their 20 day tour “Rajasthan & Varanasi on a shoestring” which has a 97% ripple score.
Everyone thought I was crazy for going to India as my first time in Asia, but I was all “go big or go home” and I haven’t once regretted my decision; it was the adventure of a lifetime.
My trip to India was amazing and I have memories that will last me a lifetime. Some of my fondest memories come from immersing myself into the local community and getting to support local businesses.
I could go on for pages with all the special moments that I had in India but there are 3 moments that I would like to share with you, representing what being travel conscious and supporting the local communities really means.
- Salaam Balaak Trust: Is an NGO that helps take children off the Street in New Delhi and provides them with proper housing, allows them to finish their education and offers the proper resources to get a job and eventually be independent. To raise awareness, the organization offers city walks of New Delhi, which allows tourists to learn a bit about the city and about what the organization does. Our tour was lead by a young man who had been abandoned by his parents as a child because they no longer had the means to care for him. He was split from his siblings who ended up at different organizations, but without the Salaam Balaak Trust, he would have most likely ended up on the streets mixed in with crime, drugs or prostitution. The tour also brings awareness to the difficulties that children and families face everyday. While they now don’t have the resources to help every child or family, in the past 29 years, they have helped over 9000 children a year and continue to do so. http://www.salaambaalaktrust.com
- Sheroes Hangout
Is a project created in partnership with a team known as “Stop Acid Attacks” which advocates for women who are survivors of violent acid attacks. While this may be something unimaginable for us, this is the reality for many women in India. Sheroes is a café that offers traditional Indian meals and employs survivors of acid attacks. The café provides a way for the women to reclaim their lives and to help them regain their confidence in the face of adversity. A part of the funds from the café go to support women in the aftermath of an attack as well as campaigns raising awareness. https://www.sheroeshangout.com
- Cabs For Women by Women
Is an organization that promotes women’s safety, independence and livelihoods. The organization hires women who are from poorer regions and who have been marginalized by society. They are given all the resources they need to successfully drive a taxi; this includes driving lessons, self-defence lessons, classes on map reading and seminars on women’s rights. This organization not only helps women enter into the workforce but also gives them the proper education and learn how to defend themselves if need be. http://sakhaconsultingwings.com/about-us/company/
As of September 2018, the ripple scores of every Gadventure tour has been made available on their website. This way you can simply and clearly see how much the tour you want to buy supports the local communities. By providing a score for each tour, we can of course understand the level of local involvement, but it also shows us how sustainable travel can have a positive impact.
If it were not for Gadventures, I wouldn’t know about these local companies and the work they do for their communities; whether it be promoting awareness on child welfare, acts of violence or women’s rights. We all know there are global organizations that support social issues around the world, but to see first hand the communities and the local businesses you are supporting, that is what’s truly life changing.
Gadventure website: https://www.gadventures.com
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