Lemon Tree Tours- A Travel Company- Promoting Health and Cultural Exchange

Lemon Tree Tours- A Travel Company- Promoting Health and Cultural Exchange

United States
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Lemon Tree Tours will offer tour packages that pair adventure with health oriented volunteer projects and/or clinical placements. The goal is to make it easy for anyone to volunteer in a setting that is suited to his or her interests, comfort level, and price range.

Lemon Tree Tours believes that voluntourism provides the richest travel experience possible. Through volunteering the traveler is able to immerse his or her self into a culture and become part of a true cultural exchange. The local community is an equal participant in the exchange, playing the role of participant/educator, not recipient/student.

Before volunteers can begin to understand the needs of the community, they need to learn about the history, culture, language, and environment of the community, which they will do through sightseeing and instruction by community members.

All projects will operate under the guiding principal of “Do No Harm”. In order to meet this criterion, all projects must be sustainable and developed with the guidance of the community. Projects will focus on at least one of the following aspects of health care: health promotion, prevention, screening, curative treatment when possible, and connection with available local resources for chronic conditions. Prevention may include non-medical activities, such as developing a clean water source, stable food source, that contribute to community health.

Your idea
This will be the address used to plot your entry on the map.
Street Address

527 Browning St

City

Mill Valley

State/Province

CA

Postal/Zip Code

94941

Country
Year innovation began

2007

Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourist experience and benefit to tourists

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Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Geographic location

Multiple locations.

Plot your innovation within the Mosaic of Solutions
Main barrier addressed

Lack of collaboration

Main insight addressed

Education through hands-on experience

Innovation
What is the goal of your innovation?

The goal is to make it easy for anyone interested in health to volunteer in a setting that is suited to his or her interests, comfort level, and price range.

How does your approach support or embody geotourism?

Lemon Tree Tours believes that voluntourism provides the richest travel experience possible. Through volunteering the traveler is able to immerse his or her self into a culture and become part of a true cultural exchange. The local community is an equal participant in the exchange, playing the role of participant/educator, not recipient/student. In doing so local communities will be empowered and travelers will have a vacation experience that they can feel good about.

Describe your approach in detail. How is it innovative?

Lemon Tree Tour packages will pair adventure with health oriented volunteer projects and/or clinical placements. Lemon Tree Tours will provide a unique range of packages to address the barriers for travelers wishing to volunteer:Time, Money, Comfort, Expertise. The existing options offered by other vendors require a willingness to "rough it", a full pocket book, and/or a significant amount of time.

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

Funding is the number one resource that I need to get started. Beyond that their are many partnerships that I am looking to develop.

1) Partneship with local communiy non-profits that could use volunteer help and would welcome travelers.
2) Partnership with a web developer experienced in working with the travel industry, would be helpful in developing highly functioning website to extend the reach to international clients.
3) Partnership with Lonely Planet and National Geographic Explorer would establish credibility and help me reach my target audience.
4) Partnership with airlines would allow to to provide assistance to lower income travelers.
5) Partnership with international health conference organizers would help me reach my target audience.

Impact
In one sentence describe what kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

To transform a paternalistic approach to volunteering into an understanding & appreciation of how resource poor communities stretch those resources to provide as much as possible for their communities

Describe the degree of success of your approach to date. Clearly define how you measure quantitative and qualitative impact in terms of how your approach contributes to the sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How does your approach minimize negative impacts? 200 words or less

Lemon Tree Tours is still in the set-up phase, but has generated quite bit of interest with 6 individuals interested in going on the second pilot trip over Thanksgiving. One of the board members has a tremendous amount of experience in the area of outcomes research. She will assist in developing and implementing tools to measure impact. In addition, volunteers will be requested to complete a feedback questionnaire at the end of each trip.

All projects will operate under the guiding principal of “Do No Harm”. In order to meet this criterion, all projects must be sustainable and developed with the guidance of the community. Projects will focus on at least one of the following aspects of health care: health promotion, prevention, screening, curative treatment when possible, and connection with available local resources for chronic conditions. Prevention may include non-medical activities, such as developing a clean water source, stable food source, that contribute to community health.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

Trips will have a balance of leisure and volunteer activities to ensure that volunteers will return feeling that they actually had a vacation and not need to take a vacation after their vacation. Examples would be volunteering in the morning and adventure activities or sightseeing in the afternoon.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your innovation, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

A large part of trip development will include meeting with local community organizers and not only achieving buy-in, but in developing projects and clinical placements. Locals will also be educational resources, teaching travelers local history, languages, cooking, dancing, etc.

Describe how your innovation helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area’s cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues. How do you motivate them to act responsibly in their future travel decisions?

Each trip will involve some language instruction, whether that be Quechua, Lakota, Creole, or Spanish. In seeing travelers embrace their heritage, locals may find pride and value the preservation of their environment, languages and culture. By working side by side with the locals travelers will develop empathy that will make it more likely that they will act responsibly.

Sustainability
Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? What is the potential demand for your innovation?

Once up an running, the organization will be be sustainable.

Voluntourism is the fasting growing segment of the Travel Market. Voluntourism has shifted from a fringe market to the mainstream as evidenced by an article in Time (Fitzpatrick, July 26, 2007) entitled “Vacationing like Brangelina”. Websites such as CheapTickets are even getting into the game. There is a demand, what is needed is a well executed service.

How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

At the moment my initiative is self-financed. I am applying for funding from a variety of sources. In the meantime, I am continuing to work a day job, save money and use vacation time for trip research.

What is your plan to expand your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

My plan is to start with 2 trips and then as they are established hire locals to run and maintain them, while I research and develop other trips.

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

I have encountered nothing but enthusiasm for my idea. My main barrier is money. As soon as I receive funding I can quit my day job and focus all of my time on Lemon Tree Tours.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell your story.

Believe it or not the courage to really put my idea into motion came from the movie Eastern Promises. Viggo Mortensen's performance was so masterful , it was clear that he is passionate about his craft. When you focus your energy on what your are passionate about, the result are inspirational and it got me thinking.

I went home and took the time to remind myself of what is important of me and to come up with a plan to invest my energy in that area of my life. I began to think back on personal experiences a volunteer for a variety of non-profits abroad while I was in nursing school. In the end I decided that I had two passions travel and helping people. In that moment it became clear that Lemon Tree was where I wanted to invest my energy.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

I have B.S. Biology and Art History from Duke University and an M.S. in Nursing from the University of California, San Francisco. I have been fortunate to travel extensively, including the US, Latin America, Europe, and Africa, for business, voluntourism, and leisure. I speak Spanish and am studying German. Next up French!

While in nursing school I participated as a volunteer on projects in Guatemala, Honduras, and Ecuador, ranging in duration from days to weeks. Through these projects I gained experience in trip planning, connecting with resources, working with local communities and health care providers to identify areas of need, and working with the community to achieve results in a short period of time.

After graduate school, I worked at the UCLA Center for Prevention Research for several years focusing on the development of HIV prevention methods, such as vaccines & microbicides. Currently, I am working at a biotech company and developing Lemon Tree Tours on the side.

Please write an overview of your project. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the Google map located on the competition homepage.

Lemon Tree Tours will offer tour packages that pair adventure with health oriented volunteer projects and/or clinical placements. The goal is to make it easy for anyone to volunteer in a setting that is suited to his or her interests, comfort level, and price range.

Lemon Tree Tours believes that voluntourism provides the richest travel experience possible. Through volunteering the traveler is able to immerse his or her self into a culture and become part of a true cultural exchange. The local community is an equal participant in the exchange, playing the role of participant/educator, not recipient/student.

Before volunteers can begin to understand the needs of the community, they need to learn about the history, culture, language, and environment of the community, which they will do through sightseeing and instruction by community members.

All projects will operate under the guiding principal of “Do No Harm”. In order to meet this criterion, all projects must be sustainable and developed with the guidance of the community. Projects will focus on at least one of the following aspects of health care: health promotion, prevention, screening, curative treatment when possible, and connection with available local resources for chronic conditions. Prevention may include non-medical activities, such as developing a clean water source, stable food source, that contribute to community health.