Monday,  March 20, 2023  5:46 am


Is this the end of a 5-year dispute with The Gap Clothing?
Terrilyn Kunopaski

Bruce Poon Tip
Gap Adventures is giving up two letters for the sake of “freedom,” the company’s founder and CEO Bruce Poon Tip said on Tuesday night, announcing a global name change to G Adventures.

The news came at the tour operator’s Future of Tourism event, as Poon Tip explained to attendees how a basis of happiness is freedom.

G Adventures has been in a legal battle with The Gap Inc. clothing company in the U.S. since 2007 because of a trademark infringement suit, and while attempts have been made to come to a global settlement, Poon Tip said he was done fighting so he made the decision to change the company’s name worldwide.

 “I am now free,” he said.

After a U.S. federal court ruled at the end of June that Gap Adventures must change its name by Sept. 1, 2011 because of confusion it may cause consumers between the two brands, Poon Tip immediately filed an appeal. While the appeal is still before the courts, he said it may no longer be necessary, believing the new name takes away any confusion that allegedly existed in the past.

The Gap Inc. was not aware of the name change until last night and lawyers from both parties will be meeting today in New York to discuss what action will be taken from here.

With hefty legal costs of more than $5 million for G Adventures, Poon Tip admitted that in retrospect, he wishes he had made the change sooner.

“Years ago, I should have given this up,” he said. “In the end, it was fighting for the sake of fighting.”

After 21 years as Gap Adventures, the rebranding will begin rolling out today and is expected to be complete by the end of September. The company’s new brochures are due to be released by the end of October and will sport the new branding.

As for the name, Poon Tip told reporters that G Adventures can mean whatever consumers decide – “It could stand for great, it could be if you want to still think of us as Gap, if you want to think of us as global, green, generations of trips; for us, it’s whatever you want it to be,” he explained.

Poon Tip presenting at Future of Tourism event in Toronto
The company has tested many options throughout the past few months, including GO Adventures or calling the entire company Planeterra, which is a non-profit branch of the company dedicated to community development through sustainable tourism.

“The (legal) process has been extremely painful but the decision to change our name is extremely liberating for us as a company and doing it on our own terms has been a decision that we’ve taken because we’re confident in our brand and our culture,” Poon Tip said. “There are two options for us: we could continue fighting for the next foreseeable future in appeals courts and continue what I’ve been doing for the last five years or we could do this.”

Aside from Gap Clothing, Poon Tip pointed out there have been other problems with the name historically, specifically with Gap Year in Europe and Australia – two of G Adventures’ biggest markets – which runs backpacking trips primarily for students.

For all these reasons, he is confident the change comes at a good time.

“We have full confidence this is the thing to do for us. Our relationship with our customer and our travellers is not based on our name –we’re still the great adventure people and we’ve always been the great adventure people for 21 years,” Poon Tip said.

Now faced with the challenge of ensuring the public will be able to identify G Adventures as the former Gap Adventures after the rebranding, he believes travel partners and customers will recognize the product.

Seventy-five per cent of G Adventures’ business comes from travel agents, wholesalers or partners, all of whom were taken into consideration during discussions of rebranding, and Poon Tip said “passengers are so connected that they’ll travel (with us) regardless.”

Although unsure if this is the end of disputes between The Gap Inc. and G Adventures, Poon Tip is optimistic about the future.

“Tomorrow is a new day for us. I never have to worry about it again...I hope,” he said. will have a report on last night's Future of Tourism event in tomorrow's edition. Stay tuned!