This entry has been selected as a finalist in the
Globetrotting for Good: The Condé Nast Traveler Challenge competition.
Project Street Address
93-103 Wing Lok Street, Central
Project Postal/Zip Code
Are you a traveler or a travel company?
Tell us your idea. What makes your idea innovative?
whl.travel is a unique global network of local grassroots tour operators. The network of local people on the ground in every destination we service (we are currently live in 160 destinations in 75 countries) allows whl.travel to reach deep into local communities and provide online booking facility for small local travel service providers such as accommodation providers who till now have not had any possibility to sell to the global market via the Internet. This has enormous benefits to local communities.
The local partners in the whl.travel network own and operate the booking business ensuring the vast bulk of income stays in the destination to support the local community. whl.travel also encourages all its local partners to list accommodation and tour product and NGO projects which support improved social, cultural and environmental outcomes.
What is the likely impact of your idea?
After only three years of operation whl.travel is already live in 160 destinations in 75 countries directly supporting around 5,000 SME accommodation providers and thousands of small local tour guides, NGOs, activity providers and transport providers. We have a further 150+ destination sites under construction (as of end March 2009), and are adding them at the rate of 20+ per month currently so we expect to be live in around 300 destinations and over 100 countries by end 2009. This will equate to some 10,000 accommodation providers and many thousands of other tour products, NGO projects etc. Direct beneficiaries are estimated at some 250,000 people by end 2009.
What would it take to launch or spread your idea?
We have spent the last 3 years building this unique global network of local travel partners and all the local product they have collected. We have proven the value of this innovative approach to connecting travelers to local communities and all we really need now to provide real impact is to drive more awareness with travelers. This is happening organically via the web (our web traffic will triple this year), however some money to get stories out in mainstream travel media like Conde Nast is what is needed now. Amount needed....maybe US$100,000.... or winning this competition.
This Entry is about (Issues)
Describe yourself as a social innovator.
whl.travel has pushed into regions where travel is one of the few options left to effect social change (e.g Aceh Indonesia, Bosnia, Albania, Timor Leste, Solomon Islands, Nepal), and where other models for market access for local communities do not work. Connecting the last mile is tough in these places due to poverty, poor infrastructure, poor local skills, etc. and whl.travel has persisted to come up with a model which provides access for all. It will take many years in many of these markets for travel to play the positive role it could and whl.travel has been willing to stick with the local communities. We have small village accommodation providers in the Solomon Islands for example who are on the outer islands and are only contactable by HF radio. In such cases what looks like an instant booking for a traveler is in fact very complex on the back-end (our digital to bicycle interface)
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