Travellers looking to explore a new destination while making the world a better place have several new options, as The Travel Corporation and social enterprise ME to WE officially unveiled their new partnership, which will see several new purpose-driven packages offered across TravCorp’s multiple brands.
The announcement was made by TravCorp CEO Brett Tollman and ME to WE co-founder Marc Kielburger, who detailed the new partnership alongside members of The Travel Corporation’s Canadian team, including The Treadright Foundation, the company’s charitable arm. The event also welcomed another pair of special guests – Jackson and Wilson, two Maasai warriors from Kenya who shared how Me to We has directly benefited their community through educational and economic initiatives, including tourism.
Tollman told PAX that while The Travel Corporation had previously included social aspects on some of their trips (such as an optional visit with victims of landmines in southeast Asia as part of a Contiki trip), the company searched for several years to find the right organization with which to partner, until Me to We was brought to Tollman’s attention in 2013.
“Our commitment is to our travellers, but it is equally important, from a corporate social responsibility standpoint, that we strive to protect these destinations,” Tollman said, describing the decision to team up with Me to We as “a partnership of purity. “We are interested in extending that awareness to our travellers.”
Through the partnership, a variety of optional experiences (which can be added on to existing itineraries) will be offered across three destinations – Kenya, India and Ecuador – where guests will engage with local communities, including activities such as building schools. In Canada, this partnership will yield opportunities for travellers to give back across all five of TravCorp’s Canadian brands, including Trafalgar (India and Ecuador); Insight (India); Contiki (Ecuador); Uniworld (India) and Lion World Travel (Kenya).
Kielburger told PAX that the goal of the program is to “provide a hand up, not a hand out,” as opposed to some forms of ‘voluntourism’ which can create an economic dependency on the continued presence of travellers by exploiting poverty.
“This is travel with purpose in a sustainable manner, with meaningful engagement with local communities,” he said, describing it as “the perfect balance between making the world a better place and enjoying a getaway.
“We want travellers to go and see the Taj Mahal and the Maasai Mara but to also have that meaningful experience.”