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BRUCE POON TIP


Small group sizes are key to the success of G Adventures. The company was recognised in the National Geographic 50 Tours of a lifetime


was on getting people in touch with the countries they were travelling in. “Mainstream tour operators offered trav- el within a westernised bubble – air-con- ditioned coaches, Best Western hotels,” he says. “Outside of very brief moments when you might pull up outside a craft market, you hardly saw local people. Tourists were experiencing countries at arm’s length. The original focus of Gap Ad- ventures was to get the traveller in touch with local people, and help them see the country through the locals’ eyes.”


THE OFFER G Adventures (the company changed its name in 2011 following a copyright infringement ruling in a suit brought by the retailer Gap Inc) offers small group adventure tours in Asia, Africa, North America, Europe, Central America and Antarctica. The tours are organised into different ‘styles’ to help travellers pick – these include Active tours, Family Tours, Voluntours (which include an element of


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voluntary work) and Limited Edition tours, which feature trips that take in one-off events such as cultural festivals. The tours all use local transportation – which can range from buses and trains to rickshaws and camels – and ‘authen- tic’ accommodation to try and bring the traveller closer to the communities they are travelling in. Keeping group sizes small is also important, says Poon Tip, with an average group size of 10, and a maximum of around 16 on any trip. The company also owns the cruise ship M/S Expedition and offers cruises to locations including the Arctic, Antarctica, the Amazon and Greenland. Earlier this year, G Adventures launched its Local Living programme. “It’s a new brand that gives people the chance to stay in a farmhouse in Italy, or live with a local family in Chile. It gives people a different experience,” says Poon Tip. G Adventures has also teamed up with the Discovery Channel to create Discovery Adventures, offering 31 Discovery Chan-


nel-inspired trips to 18 destinations. “It’s a very big programme with more elements of learning on it and specialist guides creat- ing trips around the Discovery Channel pro- gramme’s content,” says Poon Tip. “When the Discovery Channel did Frozen Planet and Planet Earth we did trips around those themes, for example. It’s been a really successful relationship for us.”


PLANETERRA From the very start, it was important to operate in an ethical and sustainable way, says Poon Tip. “From day one it was always about people for us, about cultures meeting cultures. It always made sense for us to have an intimate relationship with our hosts. It’s about doing the right thing, which is one of our core values. “First of all it was about creating jobs and benefiting local economies, but we became very successful in the process. There came a tipping point when we knew we had to do something more than just giving people jobs. It made sense to go


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