Tourism with a sustainable twist - Guest blog by Elena R. Blanco from Authenticity
This month’s guest blogger is Elena Rodríguez Blanco, Co-Founder and Experience Curator of Authenticitys.
I’m Elena, the Co-Founder of Authenticitys, a platform that connects visitors with local, enriching and social impact initiatives and experiences. We are the first travel company in Europe to receive the B Corp certification, which stands for rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Basically, what we do is promote sustainable travel, which according to us leans on these six pillars:
1. Health through physical activities, healthy food, etc. Take care of yourself.
2. Education through knowledge exchange - with other cultures. New learning opportunities open up every day.
3. Awareness about the environment and the world’s resources by making people understand their value. Take responsibility.
4. Employability through learning or teaching new skills. Be open to new conversations and experiences.
5. Freedom and Equality through respect for each other no matter what. Do good.
6. Happiness through connecting with other people and contributing positively to society. Follow your heart and spirit.
Authenticitys wants people to have a great time and at the same time, leave a positive impact on the city that they visit. For us this means: responsible tourism - not consuming without thinking as we’re currently seeing in a lot of places. We believe that it’s possible to approach tourism as a movement of social change and to create social value from it.
There are plenty of sustainable activities which you can enjoy as a tourist: learn about local dishes with Slow Cooked Bucharest, helping less fortunate children by participating in Football for the Future in Medellín, Colombia, the Sierra Leone marathon, or simply doing an e-bike tour. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re making a positive impact while travelling and connecting with the local culture as much as possible.
We also want people to get inspired and realise what is possible in their own country. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to build a school in an impoverished area if there are no skilled human resources around to start educating the local children.
Naturally, we want to focus on systemic change. By providing meaningful travel experiences, we want to inspire visitors - both locals and non-locals - to set in motion a chain of events both abroad and at home.
What we’re aiming for is a solution that brings together as many different actors as possible, so that when we do build that school, we can provide a knowledgeable teacher for the students and, hence, true education. That is how any social issue should be solved - through systemic change, by tackling the origin of the problem instead of its consequences. Of course, the end result described here is a complex task; we have set ourselves the challenge of being part of something that is much larger than we could ever. Mainly, we hope to be an inspiration and show that small, positive actions can always lead to greater things. It’s all about nudging change, knowledge and social awareness.
In order to bring our message across, we collaborate with universities such as ESADE Business School in Barcelona and Wageningen UR in the Netherlands. We are also affiliated to the European Erasmus+ projects. To be more specific, we address the refugee crisis by promoting sustainable entrepreneurship education in the fashion industry in the areas which need it the most. At its core, Authenticitys strives to find solutions for Spain’s youth unemployment by supporting innovation, cooperation, reform and promoting experiential learning with a focus on the development of professional skills and abilities which are currently in high demand.
Finally, we provide support to five social and environmental entrepreneurship crowdfunding campaigns each year since we believe that by supporting other entrepreneurial initiatives with similar goals, we can have a stronger impact. Authenticitys provides pro-bono consultancies to at least 5 NGOs and social organisations in bettering their impact on society every year.
Like many people in the sustainability movement, we believe that there should be more face-to-face encounters to promote cross-industry collaboration. At the moment, we communicate through email and phone a lot, which is not enough. It needs to be more personal. We need tell our stories and those of others. Sustainability is undoubtedly the future, be it in the event, tourism or hotel industry, but we must form a united front to make it happen. Together we’re stronger.
For more examples of fun and sustainable activities please visit http://authenticitys.com/en/tours/