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Exodus Travels ensures that tourism benefits locals as well

September 12, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Sydney travel agents turned out in Melbourne last night, and in Sydney the night before, to learn about an inspiring new tourism initiative, the Exodus Travels Foundation, designed to help create sustainable change and promote responsible travel around the globe.

International guest speaker Olly Pemberton, Exodus’ award-winning filmmaker, accompanied the announcement with a short screening of his new film, the 22-minute documentary, Ngumu. It focuses on the pioneering young female porters changing the face of Mt Kilimanjaro – brought to life through the trekking experience of Team Great Britain hockey champion and Olympic Gold Medallist, Crista Cullen.

The powerful documentary depicts the challenges and advancements of women on the mountain and promotes the growth of females in the workforce.

The Exodus Travels Foundation is an extension of Exodus’ core values; to ensure local communities benefit from tourism in their regions, and to educate and inspire travellers to take responsibility for their impact when they travel.

When Exodus found out that many Peruvian porters never get to see Machu Picchu, because they headed back for more work before visiting the site, the company ensured that was rectified. In Africa, it has made great strides in boosting the female workforce.

Exodus Travels’ Ngumu and porter project in Africa

“Travel and tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world,” Australasian Territory Manager, Louisa Day, explained.

“We [Exodus Travels] have a huge opportunity to use our worldwide network to promote positive change for both the environment and local communities. By shining a light on the projects we’re implementing, we hope we can, if even in some small way, help Australians and New Zealanders make more conscious and sustainable decisions when travelling; from culling single-use plastic on trips, to supporting local tourism and respecting all cultures.

Porter guides at Machu Picchu in Peru

The Exodus Travels Foundation leverages the wide span of connections and longstanding relationships the company has built and maintained over the past 45 years to go off the beaten track and help communities that large aid organisations can’t reach.

Exodus explained the move yesterday in conjunction with Evolution Travel Collective (ETC), which works with it to maximise brand exposure and inquiry generation.

The Exodus Travels Foundation builds on Exodus’s three guiding principles: empowerment, education and environment. Ventures include the Inspiration Project, which educates disadvantaged children on their community and culture, distributing reusable sanitary pads in Nepal to promote menstrual hygiene and installing UV water filters to stop the spread of plastic waste in the Himalayas.

Porters in Africa

Olly Pemberton said that while being a porter on the world’s highest free-standing mountain was hard enough, “being a female porter in a heavily male-dominated role brings a whole extra set of challenges.

“To put it into perspective, Kilimanjaro currently has a workforce made up of only 18% women. Ten years ago, there were none.”

Exodus has operated the Kilimanjaro treks for over 30 years. Female and male porters are the backbone of these climbs, carrying 20kg luggage on their heads every day, allowing travellers to reach Kilimanjaro’s summit in comfort.

Through the Porter Project, an initiative that funds off-season porter schools, and offers scholarships to promising porters, Exodus is giving females the opportunity to succeed. It is one of the few tour operators in the world employing women on the trek.

Award-winning filmmaker Olly Pemberton in Sydney on Tuesday 

The Exodus Travels Foundation cannot exist without the backing of travellers. With over 600+ tours across the globe, supporting Exodus and the foundation means being part of a movement to drive positive change within the travel industry.

The foundation, fuelled by grants, contributions and fund-raising drives, aims to raise GBP 250,000 (AUD 402,000) by 2020 to support foundation initiatives.

Adventurers can help support the porters of Kilimanjaro and take on their own challenge to reach the summit on these routes with Exodus Travels:

  • Kilimanjaro Climb Rongai Route
  • Kilimanjaro Climb – Lemosho Route

Exodus Travels, which has been operating for 45 years, currently offers 500 trips in over 90 countries. The average age of clients is 45-55, with quite a few younger and older people as well. Trips are graded “leisurely” to “challenging” so there’s something for everyone. Group size is usually between four and 16 – average 12.

Written by Peter Needham

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