The co-founder of GOOD Travel is transforming one of the world’s largest industries into a genuine force for good.
Words Bianca Zander
GOOD Travel inspires and enables travellers to have a helpful impact when they travel, by only working with operators making a positive impact on a community, environment and economy.
Eliza Raymond lives her life by the proverb, “To go fast you may go alone, but to go far you must go together.” Through her commitment and dedication to transforming the emerging voluntourism sector, she’s inspired countless friends, family and strangers in the global community to join her cause.
The trend for voluntourism – where travellers combine tourism with voluntary work – once went unchallenged as a force for good. Celebrated as providing an alternative form of tourism that promoted sustainability and generosity, it was an option taken up by keen young travellers the world over. But for Raymond, the co-founder of GOOD Travel, the benefits of voluntourism were not so clear cut. Her research at the University of Otago, looking into the impact of voluntourism, made a significant contribution towards global understanding of the industry.
Raymond is no cloistered academic. Since graduating in 2007, she has served as the director of international programmes for a large voluntourism organisation in Peru, and worked as the executive director of the Global Volunteer Network Foundation in New Zealand. Most recently, she managed Family Planning New Zealand’s programmes in the Pacific Islands and represented Family Planning at a range of national and global events, including at the United Nations in New York.
Throughout this time, she spent countless nights and weekends building the foundation for GOOD Travel, which is now her full-time job. It’s Raymond’s dedication and interest in learning from everyone she meets that has enabled GOOD Travel to grow from an idea into a viable social enterprise.
“Her grit to succeed is matched by her empathy and deep interest in other cultures,” says Caitie Goddard from the Global Knowledge Initiative, who is also a co-founder of GOOD Travel. “It is this unique combination that is so rare and should be recognised.”
GOOD Travel was founded by four women from four countries in 2013 to promote and facilitate travel that has a positive impact. These women wanted to address an issue highlighted in a Booking.com report that found increasing numbers of tourists were keen to travel in a way that had a positive social, economic and environmental impact, but were clueless about how to do so. Through their blog, social media and events, the company provides travellers with knowledge and tools to access sustainable and ethical travel experiences in places including Peru, Iceland, Thailand, Tanzania and Nepal. In the past year, they have reached more than 200,000 travellers, and directly donated more than NZ$9,000 to support sustainable development initiatives, including a water tower project in Zanzibar and a youth empowerment programme in South Africa.
“We believe the tourism industry has the potential to reduce poverty and inequalities, to empower communities…” says Raymond. “We are working to make sustainable travel the norm – to transform the travel industry into a force for good.”
To vote for Eliza Raymond, category winner for travel, as the People’s Choice award recipient, click here.
To find out more about Eliza Raymond and GOOD Travel, visit good-travel.org