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This adventure travel founder is (finally) pulling back the curtain on how much money stays in the places we visit

G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip is bringing transparency to the travel supply chain, showing travelers how much money actually remains in the communities we visit.

This adventure travel founder is (finally) pulling back the curtain on how much money stays in the places we visit
[Photo: Norman Wong]
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A new piece of information began appearing alongside the more than 750 itineraries offered by the small-group global tour company G Adventures in 2018. Called the “Ripple Score,” the 1 to 100 ranking signals the percentage of each trip’s cost that remains in the local economy. Since launching G Adventures, in 1990, founder Bruce Poon Tip has been championing responsible travel and leveraging tourism to create financial opportunities by putting guests, for example, in locally owned hotels. “Our message is about wealth distribution and local impact,” he says. But working with tens of thousands of suppliers around the globe—hotels, rail services, boat operators, restaurants, and more—made oversight difficult. So he embarked on a four-year project to bring unprecedented transparency to the travel supply chain—and make his company accountable for how much money it leaves with the communities it visits. He worked with the consultancy Sustainable Travel International to score every supplier that G Adventures works with, based on how many of its employees, managers, and owners are local. “Once we opened that Pandora’s box, it was a nightmare, because we found out all kinds of things we didn’t know about the companies we work with,” he says. G Adventures is now phasing out certain suppliers and helping new ones, such as a rail line in Peru, bring up their standards so they can start receiving international G Adventures travelers. Since the Ripple Score was developed by a third-party organization, other tour companies are able to adopt it. “Our intention is to make the Ripple Score an industry standard,” he says.