WHY IT RATES: The new ‘Ripple Score’ system allows tourism companies the benefit of measuring how the money tourists spend positively impacts local communities.—Jessica Zickefoose, TravelPulse Associate Editor
Just in time for World Tourism Day, September 27th, award-winning tour operator G Adventures unveils an industry-first analysis and communications tool with the introduction of a new ‘Ripple Score,’ used to report the local impact of most of its small-group trips around the globe.
The innovative scoring system indicates what percentage of a tour’s local expenditure remains in the local economy, benefiting small business owners and members of nearby communities.
Calling it a “revolution” in the way tourism companies measure the ripple effect their products and operations in local communities, social entrepreneur and G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip revealed the Ripple Score to a crowded room of travel journalists, bloggers and industry publicists at the 2018 SATW Convention in Bridgetown, Barbados, earlier today.
Across G Adventures’ portfolio, which includes hundreds of different trips across 100+ countries, the average Ripple Score is an astonishing 93 out of 100. That means 93 percent of the money its local operations and customers spend within destinations and in connection to G Adventures tours, stays with locally-owned businesses—benefiting local people.
The score was determined based on survey results from nearly 2,000 local suppliers, whose services support the 640 different tours that were ranked.
Jamie Sweeting, G Adventures’ Massachusetts-based vice president for social enterprise and responsible travel, explained that the Ripple Score is a way for the company to better understand its impacts and improve transparency with its partners and customers. It is also, he explained, an initiative that was designed to help drive the travel industry forward.
“The G Local survey was a thorough, multi-year analysis of our supply chain, designed to help us find out how many of our suppliers are majority locally-owned, and how much money stays in the destination,” said Sweeting.
“When travelers spend their money with local service providers it has a measurably positive effect on communities among both the business owners and their direct employees. But it also creates an even-wider ripple effect among their larger communities and villages, supporting families’ basic needs and their neighbors’ livelihoods. That’s why we call it the Ripple Score.”
G Adventures’ non-profit partners, the U.S.-based Sustainable Travel International and the Toronto-based Planeterra Foundation, assisted in the development of the G Local Survey (from which Ripple Scores were derived) and the final Ripple Score calculations.
Yves Marceau, G Adventures’ Boston-based vice president of product and contracting said, “As leaders in responsible travel, it’s always been our goal to prioritize the use of local service providers who employ local people. But just how well we were doing, and what benefits we were helping to create, were less than clear.”
“That’s why we decided to undertake this massive outreach effort two years ago and find out just how home-grown and beneficial our tours actually are.”
International efforts to quantify the local benefit of tourism and travel to destinations and their communities have been challenging and complex. One commonly cited statistic from the U.N. Environment Programme estimated that, because of foreign ownership and large holding groups, just five out of every one hundred dollars a tourist spends stays in the local economy. The actual numbers are not clearly known.
Marceau added, “I think of it as a voluntary check-up for our supply chain. We peered under the hood, inspected the connections, and discovered how well benefits are flowing. Now, we’re releasing the scores.”
“To my mind, it represents a first in our sector and a sea change in tourism operations. We hope it coaches the industry forward so that suppliers and other tour operators become more accountable for their economic and social impacts on destinations.”
Following the “G Local” survey, 640 of G Adventures’ approximately 700 trips were given a Ripple Score. These scores will appear alongside each trip on the G Adventures website beginning this week, in time for World Tourism Day, September 27. They will also be published in G Adventures’ 2019 brochures, available for digital download later this fall.
“This was not a fast or simple undertaking, but it was important, groundbreaking work and I’m proud that G Adventures had the commitment to see it through from concept to communication,” said Sweeting. “We hope it helps educate travelers about the positive impact they can have while traveling, simply through the power of their vacation choices.”
The Ripple Score is the latest purpose-driven initiative under G Adventures’ ‘G for Good’ social enterprise umbrella, which also includes the company’s suite of responsible travel guidelines aimed at protecting children, animals and Indigenous peoples’ well-being.
Its more than 65 social enterprise projects around the world which help alleviate poverty, conserve cultures, empower women and train disadvantaged youth, also support the G for Good vision.
For more information please visit gadventures.com/ripple-score
SOURCE: G Adventures press release
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