Tourism

“We have looked deeply to work out what we want to be”: Planeterra’s president on using COVID downtime wisely

Nancy Hromin

Nancy Hromin

The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt been a challenging time for us all, not least the travel industry, but it’s also provided an opportunity to rethink and reset our path towards a more sustainable future.

It’s one that Planeterra grabbed with both hands, according to its president, Jamie Sweeting.

“Through this very difficult journey of COVID, we have looked deeply to work out who we are and what we want to be,” he told Travel Weekly.

“I think during this time, we came to the realisation we are a community NGO that happens to do our work through tourism.”

Planeterra helps local organisations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments and celebrate their culture.

Of course, with COVID, it has been a very difficult time for the tourism sector, as well as the communities that are so reliant on travellers for their livelihood.

Sweeting said time away from the field and the communities has been an opportunity to reflect on what matters in the work Planeterra does, and the possibility of driving tourism through corporate partners.

“A multinational global law firm in Europe could be interested in supporting work in Indonesia, and the dozens of communities throughout Indonesia, through their social responsibility objectives that many companies have now,” he said.

“And the fun bit about being a community development NGO that works with tourism is that your corporate partners can actually send their staff to go and visit the sites that they’re supporting, because we work in tourism.”

It has taken Planeterra a decade to get to working with 100 different communities; partnering with outbound tour operators in Australia, the UK, Canada and the US, and looking out to the travelling world.

“When COVID hit, our instant reaction was, ‘how do we make sure that nobody goes hungry and nobody gets sick … from the lack of travel revenue, not COVID,” Sweeting explained.

“We had this bizarre situation where we had communities that we work with that there was no COVID in their country. And yet they had no revenue, no travellers coming.”

Sweeting said he and his small team at Planeterra repurposed themselves to look at what they were doing. Could the communities repurpose themselves, too?

“We had one amazing group at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe – a women’s cooperative who we’d helped develop a meal experience for travellers,” he told Travel Weekly.

Image source: Planeterra

“In lockdown, with the elderly or disabled villagers, unable to get out to the shop, we created a Meals on Wheels service and they literally created a food cart for the villages.

“They repurposed everything they learned in developing a travel business, making it relevant when there are no travellers.”

Sweeting sure makes a compelling case for community tourism.


SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Breaking News

Tourism

Omicron variant reaches Australia, Hunt Says Australia Ready

Here’s what you need to know.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Cupitt’s Estate snags gold at the 2021 Independent Beer Awards

The team at Cupitt’s Estate won three medals at Australia’s Independent Beer Awards (The Indies) including a gold. The NSW […]

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Tourism

Qantas introduces new green tier program

Apparently the initiative is not so top tier! It’s not easy being green.

Share

CommentComments

Breaking News

Hotels

News

Mother charged with arson after hotel fire

We understand hotel quarantine can leave you hot under the collar, but this is ridiculous!

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Hilton is hosting a festive dinner for your furry little friends

Want to feel bad about whatever you’ve brought for lunch today? Check out the spread Hilton Hotels are putting on for their guests’ dogs this Christmas.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Tourism Minister seeks feedback on strategy to rebuild Australia’s visitor economy

The federal government is keen to hear your thoughts about its master plan to revamp tourism and if you ask us, all we need is more gigantic roadside fruit a la Big Banana.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Virgin drops massive Cyber Monday sale with Bali flights from $425 and domestic fares from $49

Apologise to your bank account for us, ’cause just when you thought the Black Friday sale bombardment had ended, it’s time for Cyber Monday!

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

“sacrilège!”: Travelling influencer enrages the French with croissant faux pas

by Ali Coulton

A German influencer has infuriated Parisians by committing the ultimate crime against pastries. Can you see what’s wrong with this picture?

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Jetstar pilot charged with murder as police continue search for missing campers

After three days of police questioning, Greg Lynn has been charged over the disappearance of two campers who went missing last year.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

AAT Kings offers remote outback experience with new Queensland jaunt

This fresh itinerary promises an immersive look into Queensland’s wild west, so send your clients a case of XXXX Gold and tell them to get packing.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Flight Centre slashes package prices as Skroo urges Queensland to “move on”

Say a prayer for your Flight Centre colleagues today, because they’re about to get bombarded by travel starved bargain hunters.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Hilton’s new campaign encourages consumers to “travel the world” closer to home

The advertising push champions international experiences in domestic locations. For example, sipping espresso outside a Melbourne cafe and then crying because you’re not in Italy.

Share

CommentComments