What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?
Currently low-quality travel products predominate, competing for low prices; travel products that preserve local communities and pay reasonable costs are considered high-end. The ethical consciousness of travelers is changing rapidly, but in reality there remains a clear discrepancy between these changes in consciousness and any changes in the actual style of travel. In the Asian region, Korean tourists still chiefly engage in modes of tourism that exploit local communities. Accordingly, we are spreading the “fair travel” culture in cooperation with national government agencies at industrial networks, and are working with them to improve practices that are unfair to local communities. In order to achieve a dramatic improvement in the quality of service and focus on disadvantaged communities, we are focusing on training, consulting and product development to foster self-reliance and establish a foundation for change in the tourism industry.
Tell us about your partnerships
In Korea, we are cooperating with 8 similar agencies through the Korea Association for Sustainable Tourism; in each travel destination we are participating with specialized business partners. We are carrying out and advancing cooperative projects with strategic partners such as the Korean Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korean National Parks Service, and Korean Tourism Organization. The Haja Center, a hub for youth innovation establish in cooperation with the Seoul city government and Yonsei University, assists in founding of businesses with Travelers’ MAP and is currently carrying out spatial and industrial cooperation; we are carrying out joint projects approximately 10 innovative social enterprises based at the Center. Internationally, we are cooperating with local partners including in Cambodia (CCBEN) Indonesia (INDECON), Nepal (3Sisters Adventure Trekking, AHRCDF), Africa (Nomad Tour), Vietnam (AMAP, KOTO), and China (Xintour). In the coming year, we plan to join The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and participate in the ESTC international conference.
Explain your selections
We have acquired project capital through social investment in early 2011 from individuals and fund investors. We have succeeded in acquiring a total of $150,000 and of this 80% has been invested by individuals including our customers; the remaining 20% has been invested by funds specializing in social enterprise. We are proceeding with several projects in collaboration with NGOs to support social enterprise, and are also carrying out tour projects for neglected groups in cooperation with foundations that support these groups. We are additionally supporting neglected-group tours through corporate sponsorship, and corporations are also involved in the expenses for supporting local development. Local and central government and public agencies are carrying out joint projects with us to revitalize local community businesses while also assisting in project development costs and labor costs.
How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?
We will continue to diversify the regions our project serves and our service types. In this way, we will enable real contributions to these regions while improving product quality. By strengthening our cooperation with industrial networks and national and local governments, we will create Korean models for sustainable tourism and focus on expanding these models nationwide. We will present a model for cruise tours, which have not yet been attempted in Korea, and scale up the size of our travel business; at the same time, we will grow into a leading global service enterprise in the Asian region in the field of sustainable tourism by expanding our local footholds. In this way, we will expand our industrial networks in the sustainable tourism sector across Asia.