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

Travel Agents

“It’s our shout”: Flight Centre is giving away free holidays!

The travel giant is giving away 40 holidays to celebrate its 40th Birthday! Nobody tell them that it’s usually the other way around…

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

QT Newcastle signature restaurant and bar revealed!

It might seem like we’re calling Newcastle a ‘cutie’ but rest assured, our cutest NSW city award still goes to Griffith.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Australian Tourism Exchange 2022 concluded and next year’s location revealed!

The rumours are that next year’s event will have twice as many arancini balls and half the day will be dedicated to playing Mario Kart. Bear in mind our source for this was a 6 year old boy…

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Japan gets closer to reopening its border with experimental group tours

Don’t worry, the fact that the tours are operating is what makes them experimental. You won’t have to remember your high school science skills for a trip to Japan (at least we don’t think so).

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Do you want to explore South Australia? Complete a few training modules for your chance at a famil!

The team at South Australian Tourism Commission has your next holiday sorted with a famil offering for travel agents and product managers.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

ATEC tickled pink with Labor Party tourism funding promise

As professional journalists, we at Travel Weekly remain completely unbiased when it comes to political matters. However, we’re just going to leave this here…

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

“The time is right”: industry legend, Barry Mayo, retires after 60+ years in travel

We think we speak for everyone when we say we can’t imagine an Australian travel industry without this industry stalwart!

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Tourism Western Australia partners with AAT Kings and showcases WA wildlife to Sydney

Rumours are that part of the collaboration deal is that the AAT execs all get free camel rides whenever they want, which we completely understand.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Humans of Antarctica

Travel Weekly joined Aurora Expeditions for an Antarctic circle expedition and met some amazing travellers who waited over two years for the adventure.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Flight Centre scores whopping government contract

Work for Flight Centre? Your tax dollars could now be contributing to your own salary, according to our vague understanding of the ATO.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Start-up airline, Bonza, to embrace Uber model

However, it’s not yet confirmed whether the pilots will be willing to give life advice to drunk passengers, like the rideshare app.

Share

CommentComments

Midweek Interview

Midweek Catch-up with UnCruise Adventures’ Kirsty Bozlee

We’re not sure how to UnCruise… and when we asked the company’s vice president of operations, she thought we were joking.

Share

CommentComments