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VolunTourism, Earthwatch Institute & Travelocity's "Travel For Good"
Our “3-Q’s” for this month were answered by Ed Barker, Director of Corporate Partnerships, Earthwatch Institute. Here is what he had to say in answer to our questions:
1) Travelocity recently announced its "Travel For Good" initiative and Earthwatch Institute is recognized as one of the three entities on its Web site. What motivating factors contributed to the Earthwatch Institute's alliance with Travelocity?
The timing on this initiative was good for both of us. EW has been looking to reach new constituencies and increase the numbers of volunteers that it sends into the field, and Travelocity was looking for reputable partners as it developed the "Travel For Good" program. The more we talked about a partnership, the clearer it became that Earthwatch's goal of engaging people in research science was consistent with Travelocity's interest in encouraging people to participate in hands-on travel experiences and its commitment to environmental responsibility. We're very pleased to be working together.
2) Earthwatch is seen as the pioneer within the "volunteer vacation" market space. How does the alliance with Travelocity represent a new effort by Earthwatch to be a pioneer in the mainstream tourism market?
We see this as a pioneering relationship in many ways, but the two that stand out most are these: This partnership provides an introduction to voluntourism and an invitation to many mainstream travelers. For many, this may be the first time they considered a volunteer vacation, or it may open a whole new world of possibilities. We are excited to bring new people into the voluntourism marketplace. For people who are predisposed to Earthwatch's expeditions, a partnership with Travelocity represents an important recognition of the way people research and plan vacation opportunities. We see this as an important way to meet people when they're making travel decisions.
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3) Traditionally, Earthwatch has held a philosophy that distinguishes its activities from tourism. How does this move into the mainstream tourism marketplace demonstrate a "departure," if any, from this 30+ year historical philosophy?
If anything, it's a convergence. The tourism industry has moved more towards Earthwatch, as more people are eager for real opportunities to experience the natural world in hands-on ways. Our objective remains the same - to provide a means for people to engage in scientific research and make a difference. By reaching a broader audience, this partnership represents a new way to reach people with this same opportunity. And the kinds of challenges we face can't be addressed without the involvement and undersanding of more mainstream audiences, because they affect us all. By bringing Earthwatch opportunities to larger numbers of people and by building awareness, we invite them to become a part of the resolution of those challenges.
Ed Barker, MPA
Ed Barker is the Director of Corporate Partnerships for Earthwatch Institute. He comes to Earthwatch from Community Wealth Ventures, a for-profit social enterprise consulting firm in Washington, DC, where he worked for 5 years. As a senior consultant and director of operations at CWV, Ed worked with his clients to develop new revenue streams for nonprofit organizations using corporate partnerships, for-profit business ventures, and other market-based entrepreneurial solutions.
Prior to joining CWV, Ed worked for the Chewonki Foundation, an environmental education organization in coastal Maine, the World Trade Center Institute in Baltimore, the National Parks Conservation Association, and other organizations.
Ed received his Masters in Public Administration in science and technology policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He holds a BA in French magna cum laude from Dartmouth College. He currently is a trustee of the Chewonki Foundation and a director of the Maine Lakes Conservancy Institute.
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