We believe that travelling has unique power to make our world a better place.Routes For Good Company Mission
‘Routes for Good’ is a social and travel venture that aims to connect local travel guides and their communities, with travellers who are looking for an authentic travel experience that leaves a positive impact on the region they are visiting.
With the mantra of ‘Travel For a Better World’, Routes for Good is the brain child of three individuals - Greek woman, Eleni Hatziioannou, who has fallen in love with Africa, authentic travel and social entrepreneurship; Kenyan man Joseph, who wants to help his community through the development of responsible tourism; and Fabrice, an experienced travel guide from Madagascar, who wants to attract conscious travellers to his country.
Routes for Good currently offers personalised in Kenya and Madagascar, based on the philosophy of community-based tourism. It is the organisation’s goal for 100% of the money spent by their travel clients stay within and support the local economy and its residents.
“I believe that travel, when done with a specific philosophy like the one we espouse, has the power to make our world a better place,” says Eleni, who has travelled to 7 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, mainly for volunteering, and always seeking to be open and connect with the locals, to be part of the community, to learn, ask and generally take advantage of the opportunity for an authentic and true experience.
It was on these trips that Eleni realised that there is an absence of people with the skills and ability to offer there travel experiences professionally, thereby increasing their income and and assisting the local region.
“On the one hand, they do not have the means, knowledge and resources to promote their services and attract interested travellers directly, and on the other hand, they do not know how to locate independent local escorts in order to safely organise their trip.
“So with these thoughts in mind, I decided to create something that brings these two worlds together, with the goal of getting the maximum possible benefit for both sides,” Eleni explains.
The trip was magical! It was a shock in multiple levels... culturally, socially, sensorially. Our contact with nature was direct, as we stayed in beautiful camps. Our interaction with the local tribes, through wonderful Joseph, was authentic. This is a trip that could never be organized by a mainstream travel agency nor by solo travellers. Personally, I feel I participated in a National Geographic mission!!!Maria Koutsoubou
According to a United Nations report, the global travel industry makes $7 trillion each year and represents 9% of global GDP. However, only 5% of that stays in local communities.
In a nutshell, social impact travel is travelling with the purpose of making a positive impact - and it’s a growing trend as people are increasingly seeking immersive local cultural experiences that are respectful, ethical and sustainable.
Social impact travel aims to support local economies and make a positive impact in host communities and is based around discovering local cultures and respecting the cultural, economic, and ecological environment of the region.
As Eleni explains, “Travel can act as a driver of economic development and empowerment of the local community, creating jobs and alternative sources of income in areas where residents usually make a living and depend on a single sector, such as agriculture.
"At the same time, the development of responsible, authentic and sustainable tourism gives incentives to local authorities and residents to protect the environment and preserve culture and local tradition.
“But the most important thing for me is that these trips are deeply educational and offer the traveller a transformative experience, a powerful experience, a unique opportunity to get out of his microcosm.
“Thus, he finally returns to his everyday life more aware, more informed, more sensitised and more humble.”
“We hope that as many people as possible get to know us, get inspired by our vision and want to support us. Either by traveling with one of our companions, or by financially supporting the CBO (Community Based Organisation) that we created with Joseph in Northern Kenya.
“We will soon be launching a crowd funding campaign on our site which anyone who wishes can support.”
The Community Based Organisation (CBO) that Eleni refers to is a form of non-profit, non-governmental organisation that falls under the Kenyan Ministry of Labor and Social Protection with the purpose is to design and implement community empowerment and economic development programs.
“On a beautiful stretch of acacia trees in Samburu land, we aspire to create a Community Centre that will also function as an eco-hostel for visitors,” says Eleni.
The Community Centre will offer skills development programs to youth and women in relation to community-based tourism, such as making souvenirs based on traditional practices, tour guiding training, and so on. It will also organise seminars around complex social issues such as women's rights, the importance of education, family planning, as well as permaculture educational programs that will help residents to effectively deal with food shortages.
At the same time, the eco-hostel will create jobs and be able to attract visitors, as well as volunteers who are interested in getting involved with the programs of the Community Centre.
As far as travel is concerned, Routes for Good believes that every traveller is unique and hence so are their trips. There is no standard programme and each trip is planned after discussion with the person concerned.
“For example, one may like free camping and adventure. For this traveller we will suggest crossing a river in Madagascar by traditional dugout, camping at night on the banks, or spending a night in a tent in a traditional Samburu village in Northern Kenya, listening to the hyenas and elephants roaming around at night. Someone else may be very fond of nature and animals, so we will make sure to visit many national parks and observe wildlife,” says Eleni.
“For a sporty and active traveller, we can plan an itinerary that will include hiking in beautiful mountains or diving, in the case of Madagascar. And if someone wants a combination of all the above, of course this is also possible!”
For Eleni personally, it is crystal clear that who she is today is inextricably linked to her travels and experiences in Africa.
“These trips shaped me, changed me, opened a way for me to become aware of what I now consider important in life. After all, as I often say, Africa puts things in perspective,” she says.
“No matter how many books you read, no matter how many documentaries you watch, no matter how many stories you are told, personal experience has the power to make you perceive and redefine many things about the world around you, about others, about yourself.
"And of course, when we talk about countries that are not just different, but extremely poor, with deficiencies in basic infrastructure and with residents not having access to basic goods and opportunities, then this experience shakes you."
Words are so difficult to describe this trip… You feel like you travel at the centre of the earth. It's an existential journey where you remember what really matters. Amazing sceneries at Turkana Lake. Our guide Joseph from Samburu tribe showed us all the hidden beauties and made this experience an immersion into the local culture. And most of all we made a new good friend. I will never forget the songs of the children from El Molo tribe. This trip is a journey to your roots. Discover your "roots" for good. Responsible travel without mediators. The whole experience is the real thing; it's a feeling, the core.Anna
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Authentic social impact travel experiences