On the evening of September 23, the Elgin Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto was packed to the rafters with people eager to witness G Adventures present this year’s edition of the Future of Tourism. The Future of Tourism series has always been as much about answers as it is about questions. Now entering its third year, the series has led the conversation about how travellers and travel companies can make the world a better place to live and explore.
After a video introduction from Survivorman himself, Les Stroud, Planeterra executive director Paula Vlamings took to the stage to discuss ongoing projects and show just how far the nonprofit has come—and where it still needs to go.
Following this short presentation was the man of the hour, Bruce Poon Tip, who began by shedding light on some harsh truths of the current travel industry. The main takeaway from the presentation was the sobering fact that more and more travellers are booking all-inclusives that cater to comfortable Western sensibilities—minus any real connections made with other cultures or international communities. One commonly tweeted statistic: Out of every $100 spent while on vacation, only $5 actually benefits the local population. (Check out the #FUtourism hashtag on Twitter for tweets from the event!)
But it wasn’t just sobering facts coming from Bruce—he introduced his new book, Looptail, and expanded upon some personal stories and lessons outlined in his first venture into published writing. A story about how he managed to get an introduction written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama was a particular highlight and received plenty of laughs from the crowd. In Looptail, Bruce has taken the essence of past Future of Tourism events from all over the world and transformed them into a business philosophy founded on passion and purpose.
And then came the part of the night when everyone needed tissues—the winner of the G Project was announced and, as we already informed you this morning, it was Lee-Ann Gibbs and her idea Human Trafficking Survivors Take Back The Streets In Nepal that took home the $25,000 prize. As Lee-Ann repeated her winning pitch to the audience, there were few dry eyes in the house. But sniffles soon turned to huge smiles as Lee-Ann was awarded a giant novelty cheque to represent the funding her idea will receive to make it a reality.
With that—and a few inspirational videos courtesy of Planeterra’s good work—another Future of Tourism was in the books. Thank you again to everyone for coming out and supporting Planeterra—we hope you enjoy your copies of Looptail! (Everyone else: be sure to pick up your copy now!)