On the 12th November I was privileged to be a guest speaker at The World Travel Market at Excel in London. I took part in a seminar entitled ‘Luxury Travel with a Conscience’ hosted by Morris Visitor Publications’ IN London magazine and Eventica’s Global Luxury Forum the latter had previously invited me to speak at their event in April.
I was looking at this from a different angle to my fellow team members who were all in the travel business and wishing to prove that their companies were involved in responsible travel, particularly in the reduction of carbon emissions, recycling and building eco-friendly resorts. All of these are extremely important issues, but sadly the humanitarian factor is often overlooked.
I explained the concept of Philanthropic Travel and how rewarding it can be to visit a local community, gaining a cultural experience and giving a donation to local project. Many people are totally unaware that behind their exotic resorts, built in third world countries are some of the poorest people in the world. I strongly believe that if the luxury traveller in particular were made more aware of these circumstances, they would be willing to ‘give something back’.
Photo: Jane with a resident of Mukuni Village – ‘giving something back’ is such a rewarding experience. A new mattress to go in one of the new homes funded by The Butterfly Tree
As an example of Philanthropic Travel I began by describing how I went on a business incentive trip to Victoria Falls and gained a life-changing experience by founding The Butterfly Tree. I gave three other examples; firstly of a luxury tour operator with a conscience who include in all of their tours a visit to a humanitarian outreach project.
Secondly I mentioned our affiliation with Sun International in Zambia showing them as an example of a ‘luxury hotelier with a conscience’ stating how the management are passionate about their humanitarian projects which include assisting four orphanages, setting up sustainable businesses at a reformatory and a project with the blind and disabled community to grow fruit and vegetables as well as being involved in the building of a hospice. Lastly I told of a ‘luxury traveller with a conscience’ – Sean Eagan from a company called Gardiff who gave a £5000 donation which has enabled The Butterfly Tree to built and fully-equip the pre-school at Mukuni Village.
Photo: The Mukuni Village pre-school donated by one of The Butterfly Tree’s sponsors after visiting the community. 170 children attend 3 classes throughout the day.
Besides providing great networking opportunities for The Butterfly Tree being a speaker at both Global and local events is a way of making awareness of the needs of others. At the end of my talks I often use the following words ‘they only need the essentials in life:
WATER FOOD HEALTH AND EDUCATION
I came across this wonderful African proverb when reading the website of one of the world’s greatest humanitarians the late Anita Roddick:
If many little people
In many little places
Do many little things
They could change the face of the earth.