With its own staff profile made up 71% of females, The Travel Corporation’s Marie Anne MacRae, Global VP, Strategic Partnerships, and Sheralyn Berry, President of Contiki Canada gathered in Toronto to introduce a panel of five travel industry trailblazers in celebration of the upcoming International Women’s Day.
Coinciding with World Wildlife Day, yesterday, March 3, the events consisted of a #TTCIWD luncheon and an evening panel session, which were six months in the making to coordinate busy travel schedules and the international line up of speakers.
Honourary Contiki ambassador Canadian travel vlogger Nadine Sykora, who has embarked on 18 Contiki trips to date including most recently on the 12-day East Africa Safari itinerary, where she investigated the threat to local wildlife in Kenya and Tanzania, and why the Great Migration is declining, kicked off the lunch session.
In collaboration with the travel provider for 18-35’s, Sykora released an informative video featuring first-hand accounts and advice from local guides, conservationists and experts who work closely with wildlife.
“Having the opportunity to learn directly from the locals and experts who work with these animals every day highlights how education and sustainable travel are two of the most important factors in contributing to us all having a positive role in conservation for these beautiful animals,” said Sykora, who has 477,000+ subscribers on YouTube and is nearing 100k on Instagram.
“We are listening to our guests who are Gen-Z and millennials, and travelling sustainably is a top priority for them,” said Berry. “Contiki Cares’ ‘Wildlife’ pillar is our commitment to protecting the animals we encounter at home and abroad. We’re honoured to work with Nadine to continue supporting and educating on ethical animal experiences and protecting the world’s most at-risk wildlife, so the unmatched magic of East Africa’s wildlife can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Overall, Sykora says the Contiki product has evolved since she started working with the brand in 2012 with the introduction of more trip styles, the integration of social responsibility, addressing animal welfare issues and added free time.
For travel agents looking to boost their own Instagram profiles, she suggests working on improving their photography skills and adding more value in the captions.
As for what she thinks is going to be hot this year, she points to Oman, and the continued growth of Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.
A passion for travel
Despite current events, Trafalgar and its Global Brand Ambassador Patricia Schultz are moving ahead with a 12-day Italy and Sicily journey in July with the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book, 1,000 Places To See Before You Die.
“I know that there’s a situation happening whose very name I won’t pronounce but it starts with a ‘c’ who is having us all stop and take pause,” said Schultz. “This is very unprecedented, and no one has a crystal ball, but I also know that as travellers there’s not much that holds us back. There’s a constant realization that things change, and everything passes, and usually for the better. Maybe we’ll have a better appreciation for what we can visit, and how much we can travel, and sooner rather than later.”
Schultz said that she’s “on the same page” as Trafalgar as some 600-700 picks from her 1,000 Places book, which took her eight years to finish, match up with Trafalgar tour experiences and destinations.
“What we agree on without a doubt and inarguably is the importance of travel and the value of travel, and how we should travel as much as we can and as far as we can,” she said. “The premise of the book is that the possibilities are countless, to think that there are only just 1,000 places is laughable… Really, it should have been named a million places.”
Make travel matter
Sarain Fox, TreadRight’s “People” Ambassador and Storyteller, star of the recently released Make Travel Matter video, urged attendees to take the #MakeTravelMatter Pledge at www.treadright.org/pledge.
“I got to do a really amazing video on how we make travel matter. To me this has been really awesome because there are some really easy ways that we can do it,” she said. “I hope it inspires you to make your own travel matter and make an impact. Something as simple as putting your name on the list can help you hold yourself accountable to the impact that you can be apart of. I believe you all want to be apart of the world that we want to live in.”
Where the wild things are
National Geographic Photographer Ami Vitale recently came on board as the brand new “Wildlife” Ambassador for The TreadRight Foundation. Vitale has travelled to more than 100 countries and her photograph of the last male northern white rhinoceros on earth was voted by National Geographic readers as the top photograph of the decade.
“Travel is wonderful. It educates us, it inspires us, but it’s more than that, we’re on this planet together, it’s an intricate web, we’re at a crossroads right now and we need each other,” she said. “Travel definitely inspires us that individuals can have profound impacts, and, in our travels, we can actually have a profound impact in very positive ways, we can empower human beings, we can empower individuals in our acts.”
“We are so pleased to announce on World Wildlife Day that Ami Vitale is our first ever TreadRight “Wildlife” Ambassador. An incredible visual storyteller and photographer, Ami’s unforgettable and poignant images have resonated across a worldwide audience and online community,” said Brett Tollman, Chief Executive of The Travel Corporation and Founder of the TreadRight Foundation in a release. “Her compelling work with rhinos aligns with TreadRight’s initiatives, including our work with rhino, elephant and leopard populations across Africa and India. We look forward to working with Ami to tell TreadRight stories in the future together.”
Vitale will be travelling with the TreadRight team to capture the wildlife conservation work being done at two Red Carnation Hotel Collection properties, Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve nestled in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains in South Africa and the Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, set to open June 2020. Vitale will help tell the stories of the extraordinary efforts employed by the Xigera property to empower local communities in its environmentally conscious build amid the incredible setting.
“I am thrilled to be TreadRight’s new “Wildlife” Ambassador as their conservation projects are aligned with my personal values and I am delighted to be able to share some of these upcoming inspirational TreadRight stories to further generate awareness and understanding,” she said. “We really are in a race to save the planet, and in understanding, we can enjoy its extraordinary beauty but we are also responsible for taking care of it.”
The joy of giving back
Rounding out the panellists was Roxanne Joyal, CEO of ME to WE and founder of ME to WE Artisans, who drew similarities between her organization and the TTC for also being a family-owned and family-led business.
One of her initiatives was to create an international market for the intricate handiwork of more than 1,500 indigenous women in Kenya and Ecuador, allowing them to lift their families out of poverty and establish themselves as leaders in their communities.
“Our social enterprise is a part of this effort to provide people with the opportunity to align their consumer choices with their values, whether it be through socially responsible experiences or products,” she said. “From a product perspective, it’s an honour to be able to leverage the artform of beading with the women with whom we work in Kenya. It’s not about appropriating the artform but leveraging the skill so that they’re able to connect to the global market and to be able to earn four times more through their work than they are able to locally. We know from an international development perspective that every dollar invested in a woman is a dollar that goes straight to her household, her kids and her community, and it’s an honour to see that change happening on the ground.”