MEET BRUCE POON TIP By Camille Hoheb
Leading with a simple but powerful statement "We travel because we are looking for something meaningful." I jotting down key phrases in the dark. These scribbled notes became the foundation for my exclusive 1:1 interview. I was motivated to share Bruce’s knowledge, mission and passion for purpose-driven travel. Not easily intimidated at this point in my life, admittedly, I was a bit antsy. It’s not often that one is given an opportunity to have a private chat with a visionary like Bruce. Every minute has a value and my goal was to make our time count. Gracious, down-to-earth and giving of his time, talking to Bruce was easy.
CH: Please tell our WTJ readers about the “noble purpose of travel.”
BPT: We travel with a particular passion to see the world or experience other cultures but our motivations are different. The real noble purpose of travel is for travel to be able to change lives. Whether peoples’ lives change because of the experience they are having or because of positive impact on the ground when you’re visiting some of the world’s poorest countries. Tourism is a transformational way to inject wealth distribution to these countries. The travel industry has kind of lost sight of noble purpose of travel that has been my message for a few years now.
CH: Tell us about your "four pillars of happiness."
BPT: Sure. The first is the ability to grow. The second pillar is being connected; connected to the people you are with and the thing(s) you want to achieve. Also, being something greater than yourself – that’s the third pillar. The fourth pillar is freedom –being able to make mistakes and think freely. You have to be free in order to achieve happiness.
CH: What are your recommendations for being a better traveler?
BPT: First you have to get away from all-inclusive properties and support companies that are not part of big conglomerates. Small companies are actually owned by bigger companies where the money doesn’t actually stay in the country. As a consumer you have a lot of power and the greatest power you have is spending responsibly and knowing where your money is going.
CH: What are some examples of spending responsibly?
When you are in destination, spend your money all over the place – distribute your wealth by using different cab drivers, eating in different places and shopping with local merchants. Make sure different people benefit from you being there. There are a couple other tips about traveling responsibly – I always say never leave a country without sharing a meal with a local person because food is an international language. Don’t leave without creating some kind of connectedness with the local people. So many people travel and they never really leave their tour buses or cruise ships or in compound resorts and they never actually come across a local person. With these scenarios you don’t ever have to come across a local person if you don’t want to and there’s no need for you to learn about the local culture. Now that’s a shame. Sustainable travel is about getting to know local cultures and people because you bring that home and have a better appreciation for where you have been and what you have at home. There are all kinds of great benefits – you come home a different person. You bring that home to your family, to your friend and to your community. That energy perpetuates.
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About Bruce Poon Tip:
Bruce Poon Tip is the founder of G Adventures and is a champion of responsible tourism and social entrepreneurship. Bruce has spoken multiple times at the request of the United Nations and World Bank, presented at the headquarters of Apple and Google, and delivered keynote speeches at TED events and leading entrepreneurship conferences around the world. Inducted into the Social Venture Network Hall of Fame, alongside Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines), Anita Roddick (The Body Shop), and Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream), Bruce's first book, Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business is a N.Y. Times best seller.