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G Adventures Expands Commitment to Tourism with Positive Environmental, Community Impacts

The tour operator is reforesting 13 countries severely impacted by climate change and relaunching its Ripple Score — a tour-evaluation rating that lets travelers see how much of their trip fees remain in the communities they visit.

Doubling down on its belief that travel companies and travelers play a pivotal role in protecting the environment, global tour operator G Adventures recently launched its Trees for Days initiative.

Through Trees for Days, for every day a traveler is on a G Adventures trip, one tree is grown in their name. Though unveiled on World Tourism Day (27 September), the tree-planting initiative is back-dated to 1 January 2023; so, more than one million trees have already been planted. The company estimates that more than 1.5 million trees will be planted each year.

Like many of G Adventures’ impact initiatives, Trees for Days is supported by its nonprofit partner, Planeterra — which works to intentionally develop and support community-focused and -led tourism projects. In the case of Trees for Days, Planeterra helped source the 17 participating community-based tree-planting projects in 13 countries — all of which have been severely impacted by climate change through deforestation or that are currently under threat.

“The planting of trees not only contributes to the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but it helps promote healthier landscapes and ecosystems such as wetlands, grasslands, and forests, and provides crucial habitats, food, and shelter for wildlife, thus helping to maintain biodiversity,” Planeterra president Jamie Sweeting said in a press release about Trees for Days. “Beyond that, helping local environments grow and flourish means they become more resilient to extreme weather events, which protects — and even helps develop — local communities and their sources of income, especially in rural areas. More trees also mean cleaner air and a reduction in the effects of extreme heat.”

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To bring this project to fruition, G Adventures also partnered with Reforest — which actively supports tree planting and forest conservation work around the world.

Trees for Days is G Adventures’ latest initiative aligned with its commitment to responsible tourism. Community tourism has long underpinned the company’s ethos when it comes to developing tours that host tens of thousands of travelers annually — its tours are “built on meaningful relationships with local communities and directly benefit the people and places we visit,” according to G Adventures’ G for Good commitment.

The G Local Survey — conducted in 2016 — found that 91 percent of the hotels, restaurants and tour providers on the company’s trips are locally owned. Additionally, 83 percent of supplier management staff are local; and 90 percent of suppliers purchase more than half of their supplies from local producers, markets and farms. At the time of the survey, 112,000 people were employed globally by G Adventures’ contracted service providers and, on average, three dependents were supported by each employee of the company’s service providers. Sweeting indicated that, though this data is now several years old, the information is still relevant — and likely trending in a positive direction.

The desire to understand and quantify the deep penetration of tourism’s potential financial benefits for communities led the company to establish the Ripple Score — a transparent tour-evaluation rating that lets travelers see how much of their trip fee was spent locally on services including accommodations, restaurants and transportation. To qualify as a local business or service, 50 percent or more of the enterprise must be owned by a legal resident or national citizen of the country where it operates. Based on this designation, G Adventures looked into every business and service it worked with to determine what percentage of its costs in each destination were staying there. The more money staying locally, the deeper the ripple effect within the community and the higher the Ripple Score, out of 100 points.

As of September 2018, 640 out of 800 tours had calculated scores with an average score of 93 — meaning 93 percent of the money spent by G Adventures in a destination went directly to local businesses and services. Like many tourism initiatives, the COVID-19 pandemic put the program on hold; though the company plans to relaunch the Ripple Score in January 2024.

“Our travelers care about making a difference when they travel — and they do that simply by booking a tour with G Adventures,” said founder Bruce Poon Tip. “Together, we will address how community tourism can play an important role in helping the planet heal — while uplifting local communities — through reforestation and positive local impact.”