Bruce Poon Tip – a man of vision

Travel Talk

Bruce Poon Tip Take a Canadian with a passion for connecting people and cultures, who believes that the entire planet is the holiday product, and that business can be conducted in a highly ethical way for travellers, employees and locals who are being visited, and you have a compelling individual – Bruce Poon Tip. Jennie Carr finds out more.

Given that changing people’s lives through authentic travel experiences is a core value at G Adventures, the company Bruce founded in 1990, it is hardly surprising that the Planeterra Foundation, the NGO he started, is central to much the company does. As a traveller with G Adventures, you meet many of the projects the NGO works with worldwide. In India, you may well be picked up from the airport by a woman driver, who’s using a car Planeterra provides. Or you could be taken on a bicycle tour by a young person whose tourism trained with Planeterra’s support in Caye Caulker, Belize. 

Bruce’s inspiration came from a back-packing tour in Asia as a student, he spent to the limit on his student credit cards to build a company that bridged the gap (the company’s original name) between back-packing and traditional resort or cruise holidays. Luxury is not the name of the game here, real experiences (think rural home stays, genuine interaction with locals) are the thing, whilst supporting, indeed enhancing, the places visited. The first tours were to Belize, Ecuador and Venezuela, with very small groups, recruited through marketing talks around Canada, involving grassroots travel using rickshaws and canoes.

Cooking Class Skip forward to 1993, when Bruce came to the UK, having realised Brits have 4 or 5 weeks holidays (Canadians have just 2) and then jump to the mid-90s when the internet opened up fast communication and G Adventures were poised for a great moment. It came in 1996 when the Colombian government approached Bruce to invigorate their tourist business, asking him to work with their local communities to create new opportunities. 

What has followed is remarkable – Bruce now heads up a huge company, 200,000 people travel with G Adventures each year, which leads the way in responsible, sustainable eco-tourism. However, it is the Planeterra Foundation that he cites as his most important work, supporting local people to develop their communities, conserve their environment, and provide people-focussed answers to local business challenges.

    

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Jennie Carr

Silver Travel Advisor Creative and Communication Director, member of BGTW

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