Money raised by a group of travel industry professionals by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is to be re-allocated to Covid-19 emergency relief funds.
The ‘G Trek For Good’ group, led by G Adventures UK and EMEA managing director Brian Young, had planned to donate the money raised to support a new community project via the operator’s social enterprise arm, Planeterra, as well as people affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook via Abta Lifeline.
But the Planeterra element, totalling £12,897, is now being redirected to support the communities that G Adventures already works with, who are most in need due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The money will pay for essentials such as food and medicine, which communities are struggling to access now that tourism to their destinations has stopped.
A spokesperson said: “Not being able to cover basic needs for their families like food and medicine is the biggest risk to Planeterra’s project partners at the moment.
“There is also a risk that some projects potentially have to shut down their tourism enterprise permanently because they are at risk of losing their space or cannot afford to maintain it during the next several months while tourism has halted.”
Planeterra is aiming to raise £30,000 through its Turn Travel into Impact from Home campaign. However, this amount would not fulfill support for all 80 Planeterra projects.
“At the moment we are looking at supporting as many of our partners’ immediate needs as we can, for the first month of the pandemic, knowing that support will likely be needed for another three to five months, until travel returns to these communities,” the spokesperson said.
Projects being supported range from Uganda to Belize, Morocco to Tanzania and Colombia to Botswana.
Young said: “G Trek for Good was established with the mission of raising funds to help support and give back to local communities through tourism.
“Six months since we stood at the top of Africa’s highest peak, we are faced with a world where tourism is at a complete standstill.
“The effects of this tourism halt is being felt far and wide but nowhere more fiercely than by the local people in communities where money generated by tourism is their sole income and opportunity to access things as basic as food and medicine.
“I’m incredibly proud and cannot thank the G Trek for Good team enough, not only for stepping up to do the climb in the first place but also for their amazing efforts to raise funds ahead of the climb and to motivate each other on the mountain to get to the top.
“With the hardships faced by communities during the pandemic we have collectively decided to distribute the funds raised to help these communities in immediate need.
“Being able to provide families with food parcels and communities with essential shelter brings some light into this time of uncertainty.”
The Planeterra spokesperson continued: “We know we won’t be able to help everyone, but we will do what we can, and any level of support to our fund is greatly appreciated.
“Our team is currently undertaking a needs assessment survey of all 85 partners, to collect data to determine the exact number of community members that will need funds to support their families.
“This will allow us to prioritise grants to support highest priority project partners first – like those with members unable to cover basic needs such as food and medicine.
“Planeterra’s global programs team is also developing new training modules to provide to partners to help them through the crisis and prepare them for a stronger return to tourism, with our field staff taking additional time to address training needs of our partners.
“This will include facilitating webinars and learning sessions on marketing, expanding their tourism enterprises, financial management, emergency planning, and diversifying their income.”
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