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PEOPLE IN HIS OWN WORDS


Poon Tip on who he admires and what makes him tick


Who do you admire in business? I like great leaders. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a fantastic innovator. I admire Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu on the spiritual, motivational side. Richard Branson, who I’ve had a chance to meet, is a great leader and a great mind in terms of sustainable thinking.


What do you do for fun, outside work? Work is fun! Outside of work, I play a lot of sports. I also enjoy staying at home – I travel so much that my vacation is sit- ting in the garden. I have two children, aged eight and 10, and my passion is travelling with them, because they are still


that next step. There comes a point when you have to really get serious and incor- porate doing the right thing into the entire philosophy of your business.” In 1996, G Adventures started to part- ner with other non-profit organisations in order to give back to the communities in which it operated. Poon Tip soon became frustrated with the bureaucratic nature of the NGOs they were working with. “Because we were so entrepreneurial and quick to market with our ideas, we felt the NGOs were slowing us down,” he says. The answer was to go it alone, and in 2003 G Adventures set up the non-profit


30 LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014


amazed by everything. I took them to Peru in March. I’ve probably been to Peru 50 times in the last 20 years – we have 300 employees there – but going with my kids is a totally different experi- ence, as they have new eyes for everything.


What is your philosophy on life? As far as I’m concerned our whole purpose in life is to create happiness and to be happy. Happiness is free, for everybody, if you want it; you just have to create an environment where you can achieve it. At G Adventures, our whole business model is centred around creating happiness, and that goes for anyone who touches


Planeterra Foundation, dedicated to the support of small communities. Planeterra is currently running more than 50 projects around the world, spanning health, education, employment skills training, cultural heritage preservation, and environment. “I always thought Planeterra would end up being bigger than G Adventures, because there’s so much potential and I think that prediction is coming to fruition,” says Poon Tip. “As an adventure travel operator, you’re a niche operator. Giving back is a mainstream proposition, with the potential to appeal to more people.”


our brand – our employ- ees, our travellers, our travel agents.


What has been the highlight of your career? There have been so many highs. This year the Social Venture Institute inducted me into its hall of fame – I was pretty excited about that. Two years ago National Geographic com- piled a list of the best adventure travel compa- nies on earth and we were number one. That was pretty nice. We always tell people how great we are, but it’s nice when other people say it too. We have also achieved a lot of milestones with the Planeterra Foundation, which has been a real high for everyone.


As an example, Poon Tip cites an ap- peal that was launched during the Kenyan droughts to raise money to build water tanks for families travelling to refugee camps. “We raised CA$50,000 in 24 hours with a single tweet,” he says. “Then we raised another CA$50,000 the week after. Suddenly, we’re involved in disaster response, which was never on our agenda. We made CA$100,000 in a few days, and that cost us nothing as a company. It shows how we can transcend our product and engage our customers beyond travel.” It hasn’t been all plain sailing, of course. Poon Tip says that 1996 and


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