The Power of Community Tourism: Planeterra’s Mission To Turn Travel Into Impact

May 22, 2023 10:00 AM ET

by Selene Orellana, Planeterra

Tourism can be more than just traveling for entertainment and Bruce Poon Tip had a clear vision from the very beginning. He envisioned using tourism to do good things around the world and that is how the Planeterra Foundation came into being. Today, two decades later, his vision has become a reality and it is transforming the way the tourism industry traditionally works, embracing local communities rather than excluding them from tourism and making travel experiences more meaningful and impactful in the process.

Planeterra is the world’s leading nonprofit using tourism to uplift communities around the world. Born in Toronto, Canada, but rooted everywhere, Planeterra works with community tourism enterprises that are led by women, youth, Indigenous peoples, and rural communities, to break down the barriers that prevent them from leveraging the ripple effects of tourism.

Tourism is an estimated US$8 trillion industry, but the truth is that only a small fraction, if any, of that money reaches small businesses and local communities. This is one of tourism’s main problems, as it leads to a lack of opportunities for communities to be successful and have control over their own growth, development, and futures. Community tourism proposes a responsible tourism model that can break that cycle.

Planeterra defines community tourism as travel experiences owned, led, and run by communities – non-profits, cooperatives, community organizations, and social enterprises. At its very best, it bridges the gap to engage underserved communities in meaningful, life-changing ways. Years in the field have shown the team at Planeterra that community tourism is an opportunity to embrace a more responsible way to travel by encouraging genuine encounters between local communities and travelers while ensuring that local people are benefiting from tourism.

Read Selene's insightful article with great photos too -