Travel has the potential to change the world for the better. We aim to create a positive impact in every destination we visit, socially, economically and environmentally.
We are committed to ensuring our trips are not only amazing, fun experiences for our travellers, but also for the local people and communities where our trips go.
We encourage all travellers to build meaningful relationships with local communities, understand the local cultures in which you find yourself and respect different ways of life from our own. Along with supporting the communities in which we are privileged to visit, protecting and preserving our natural environment including the animals and wildlife that live within it are essential.
By minimising our footprint, striving for sustainability and supporting various environmental causes on our trips, we hope to leave the world a better place than we found it.
Below are some of the many initiatives and local projects that Gap 360 and our local partners support. You can get involved in these projects whilst on some of our trips too. Click on the individual projects for more details about the initiatives and which trips visit them!
Location - Indigenous community in the Sacred Valley, Peru
The community of Ccaccaccollo is an indigenous community home to around 140 Quechua speaking families. Despite being close to Cusco and Machu Picchu, the benefits of tourism rarely reached this community and women especially were excluded from educational and economic opportunities.
Since 2005, our local team have partnered with a local women's co-operative (starting with only just 3 women) to help them bring back weaving traditions that were previously lost and make income from them. Funding was provided to source equipment and connections with travellers on our group tours, allows the women to share their culture and contribute to family incomes.
There are now 46 people who own the co-operative and they are the first generation to be able to speak fluent Spanish. The women who who started the project also report that all of their children are now studying at university - something that was not economically feasible for them previously.
Location - New Delhi, India
Partnered with Salaam Baalak Trust, which is an organisation that provides safe housing, education and counselling to over 5000 children in Delhi, this city tour is a tour with a difference. It is led by the youth of the city and gives travellers a fresh perspective on life in Delhi.
Funds generated by the city tour are used to finance scholarships and employment opportunities for struggling youth. Guides are fully trained with new skills and also have the benefit of boosting their self-confidence.
Location - Siem Reap, Cambodia
Our local team has worked with New Hope Outrach Centre. New Hope does a lot of work with young Khmers and their families in the Siem Reap region, ranging from training and education, providing fresh clean water and free medical check ups.
Since 2010, with over $60,000 funds raised, a restaurant was built in Siem Reap to train young adults who are interested in working in the hospitality industry. The 6 month long training programmes also helps students find paid full-time job placements after the training ends. Over 1000 students have gone on to fulfiling jobs in the industry.
Travellers can visit the training restaurant and eat a delicious meals there. Funds from the experience go back into the restaurant and training programme.
Location - Ometepe, Nicaragua
The Puesta del Sol community association was created by women in the community to provide more work opportunities for people on the island. With previous opportunities being scarce, many family members were forced to leave the area to find work in other regions, which split up families.
Puesta del Sol has developed a homestay programme in La Paloma on Ometepe Island to attract tourists to the area and create jobs for the islanders. Our local partner provides a steady stream of travellers to the village which has made the community project a success. The funds raised through this programme benefit 17 families and additional funds are put back into developing training programmes relating to tourism, scholarships for young students, supporting the elderly and investing in local infrastructure such as the local school and park.
Location - San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala
95% of the inhabitants of San Juan La Laguna are Indigenous Tz'utujil Mayans. The local economy is very limited and men mostly work as labourers for private coffee producers and the women weave. The homestay programme that has been created aims to increase income for the Tz'utujil people, whilst also conserving their culture and supporting the long term health of the local environment.
There are 647 families directly denefitng for the programme and a further 400 people indirectly benefitting from the additional tourism to the area. Funds from the homestay programme are used to improve local infrastructure, provide education and scholarships and develop envrionmental education programmes in local schools. As part of this programme, around 2500 trees are planted each year.
Location - Sacred Valley, Peru
Parwa Restaurant is owned by the Huchuy Qosqo Association, a community-based tourism enterprise. For years, residents of the area saw tourism flourish in neighbouring cities and areas but were unable to benefit from tourism themselves. With the help of our local partner a community restaurant was created to provide training and jobs. All ingredients for the restaurant are sourced from local community farmers and all income earned is used to reinvest in social projects for the community. The employees of the restaurant have monthly salaries, health insurance and pensions. Around 25 other local businesses receive assistance to capitalise on the steady stream of 1500 travellers who pass through Huchuy Qosco village.
Location - Kathmandu and Pokhara, Nepal
SASANE is a charity was formed in 2008 with the aim of empowering survivors of human trafficking to break the cycle of corruption in Nepal by training survivors to be paralegals and the first point of contact for other victims in local police stations. It is often the victims of trafficking that are wrongfully arrested, fine and then bailed out by their traffickers to be further exploited and abused.
SASANE and our local partner have developed the Sisterhood of Survivors initiative with the aim to produce a sustainable income for their programmes. The tourism initiative trains survivors in tourism and guiding, which both creates meaningful employment and raises awareness of the issue of trafficking in Nepal to a wider audience. Survivors can teach travellers how to make traditional dumplings and they enjoy a meal together. The majority of employees and trainees are young people aged 20 or under.
Location - Moshi, Tanzania
With as little as 5% of girls finishing secondary school, gender inequality is still rife in Tanzania. Give a Heart to Africa (GHTA) is an women-only adult education school in Tanzania which provides free education. GHTA provides a year long education programme for 30 women annually which incorporates subjects to help women launch their own businesses and earn their own money, in an environment where traditionally men control the families finances.
Graduates of the programme are supported in setting up their own ventures such as Moshi Mamas which is a craft and souvenir store our travellers visit on our trip.
Location - Floreana Island, Galapagos
Floreana Island in the Galapagos received tourists on short day trips, but were not economically benefitting from tourists visiting their island. With such a lack of job and economic opportunities, young people were choosing to leave the island and rarely returned. The residents of Floreana Island developed the first ever community based tourism group in the Galapagos and with investment from our local team have developed a training programme to manage all aspects of tourism on Floreana. They have since coordinated tourism activities such as guiding, trekking, snorkelling, food services as well as training in accounting and reservations. This has opened up lots of jobs and opportunities to improve income for the local residents, as well as empowered people to protect the unique biodiversity which attracts tourists to the island.
Location - Hoi An, Vietnam
With an estimated 20,000 children living on the streets in Vietnam, there is still a huge divide in the population and this is made worse by a lack of child protection systems. Our team in country partnered with STREETS, which is a programme that works with at-risk youth to train them for hospitality roles. The Oodles of Noodles tour was created to help teach them the skills needed to work in a professional kitchen and also to help develop their English skills which is vital for success in the hospitality industry. The students lead classes for travellers to teach them about the different types of noodles available in Hoi An (of which there are 26!). The Oodles of Noodles programme means that STREETS can continue to provide tuition, safe housing and health care to those most at risk. Graduates of the STREETS programme receive an International Culinary Arts Certificate, and many go on to work in large 5 star hotels in cities across Vietnam.
Location - San Ignacio, Belize
In the village of San Antonio, Belize, the average household has seven children and resources are limited. As a result, girls' education is not priorized and it is common for them to not have an education beyond primary level. The San Antonio Women's Co-op was formed by nine Mayan women with a goal to empower and inspire the children of the community, and to provide them with a way to earn an income whilst sharing their traditional knowldeged with not only the younger generation, but with vistors as well.
With the help of our team in country, a grant was provided to the San Antonio Wonem's Co-op, which gave them the opportunity to build an indoor workshop to showcase and sell their pottery and other crafts made by women in the community. This indoor space has also given them the opportunity to run a training programme for unemployed youth in the village. At the co-op, travellers also get the opportunity to try the ancient pottery-making techniques used by the women of San Antonio. The success of the co-op has meant they have been able to employ a further nine women supporting 11 local artisans, and since the co-op was formed they have been able to sponsor the education of two local girls who have now been able to graduate high school.
Location - Santa Marta, Colombia
The Wiwa are an Indigenous people of the Sierra Nevada, and until the last few generations they have remained isolated from the rest of the world. In the last few years as they have increased their contact with the outside world, the Wiwa community have strived for access to tourism that celebrates and upholds their cultural values, customs and traditions but that provides the families of the community economic autonomy. Our local team have worked closely with Wiwa community leaders to create opportunities for communities along the Ciudad Perdida trekking route. Alongside an Indigenous-owned agency they have been able to develop a training programme for Indigenous-owned tourism businesses and guides to increase employment in the area. Thanks to this initiative, a training kitchen, meal and handicraft experience have been developed in the Wiwa community, and provides opportunities to for women to sell traditional handmade crafts and also to provide meals to trekkers.
Location - Santiago de Agencha, Bolivia
Before a partnership was established between Jukil Lodge and our local partner, the lodge had been closed for 5 years and received no visitors. Located in one of the most remote parts of Bolivia (only 280 inhabitants) most young people were migrating to urban areas to find employment. This left a lack of infrastructure and housing in Jukil, along with diminshing populations leading to erosion of traditional cultures. Along with the problems associated with a lack of economic opportunities, the area has faced major drought and failure of traditional crops such as quinoa.
By partnering with our local partner, Jukil Lodge upgraded it's buildings and equipment, received training in orangisation management, restaurant operations, business administration and more. Now travellers can give back to the local community by being one of the 300 travellers to stay there per month, which brings in much needed money to the community. The lodge is now seen by the local community as a way to preserve indigenous culture for future generations.
Location - Monduli, Tanzania
With unemployment at over 10% in Tanzania, the Mto wa Mbu Cultural Tourism Enterprise is an innovative community project that celebrates local culture and provides much needed employment and income, whilst at the same time protecting valuable wildlife and resouces. The initiative provides meals and handicrafts for sale as well as cultural experiences including bike tours of the area.
Funds generated from the initiative are pumped back into the community in infrastructure such as sanitation and local schools.
Location - Rome, Italy
Since 2014, more than half a million migrants have landed at Italian ports. There is a huge demand for economic opportunities and social programmes to support migrants looking for a better life who are entering Italy. In 2010, the Migrantour project was developed in Turin to promote responsible tourism and since 2021 it has extended to other cities in Italy. Migrantour Rome created an alternative city tour which highlights the multiculturalism and takes tourists to some of the hidden gems that make the city as wonderful and diverse as it is. Tours are led by migrants themselves so that travellers are educated on the history of migration in Italy and they can learn about the various different cultures, languages and religions that make up the population of Rome. This project provides migrants with a job and an income which is vital in helping them settle into their new life.
Location - Barcelona, Spain
Since 2017 there has been a surge in migrants arriving in Spain, which means there has been increased demand for social services, resources and programmes which help migrants intergrate into Spanish society and also enter the formal economy. Mescladis was developed as a culinary training programme for migrants and Spanish youth who struggle to find employment. They are given the opportunity to learn the practical skills required to work in a professional kitchen which they can then use to find employment in the hospitality and tourism industries. The students at Mescladis run cookings classes for travellers which helps generate income for the programme. Travellers who participate in the cooking class get to learn about how Spanish culture has blended with other cultures both historically and recently, whilst preparing and trying delicious meals.
Location - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In Rio de Janeiro, around 30% of the population live in favelas (shanty-towns). There are over one thousand favelas ranging from those with slum-like conditions to those which are highly-functioning and vibrant. Residents of the favelas have seen increased challenges over the last few decades due to government corruption, drug trafficking and militias, and often the residents of favelas are discriminated against purely because of where they live. This makes it difficult for people, especially youth, to find employment and therefore often find themselves involved in criminal activities due to lack of alternative options.
Favela Experience has developed a new social enterprise tour, which is led by the local people which allows them to earn an income. Travellers get to experience the local community by meeting local people, particupating Brazilian martial arts lessons, visiting an agro-forest and tasting locally brewed beers. They are also able to purchase locally handmade crafts which supports members of the community. Our local team have partnered with Favela Experience so that travellers can learn more about what life in favelas is really like, and in turn this helps increase revenue flow into the community, and providing the members of the community with a sustainable income.
Location - Caye Caulker, Belize
Caye Caulker is a remote island in Belize with limited educational resources. Often, students have to travel to the mainland to receive a decent education, and this barrier means that by the age of 12 many have chosen to quit school and find work. In 2008, The Ocean Academy school was opened on Caye Caulker as the first and only community high school. This provided an opportunity for education that previously didn't exist.
The Bike with Purpose project was developed to provide a student-led bicycle tour of the island, which travellers have the option to participate in. Our local team has partered with them to provide a constant stream of travellers and income and through the money raised, Bike with Purpose is able to help fund education programmes for students at Ocean Academy. There are now 125 students enrolled in the academy and those involved in the Bike with Purpose project are able receive the training and develop the skills needed for future employment opportunities.
Location - Java, Indonesia
Ngadas is a village located in central Java, which is home to the Tengger tribe. The community acts as the protectors of Mount Bromo, which is one of the most sacred sites in Indonesia. In recent years, the land of the Tengger people has been subjected to illegal logging activities by external parties, leading to the community youth relocating to more urban areas. The relocation of the youth has led to a loss in cultural rentention in the area. Our partner supported the Ngadas community to set up a homestay and community tour programme that is fully owned and managed by the Tengger Tribe. The project benefits almost 500 households and also positively impacts many small enterprises in the community such as farmers, tour guides and drivers. Travellers get the opportunity to stay in a traditional Tengger home and explore the area on a walking tour and ancestor trek.
Location - Chitwan, Nepal
Baruli is home to the Tharu people, who are a small Indigenous community near the Chitwan national park in Nepal. Chitwan is a popular tourist destination but the Tharu people have never been able to benefit from this due to their distance from the main tourist hotspots in the park.
Royal Mountain Travel developed a community homestay programme in Baruli which gave the Tharu people the chance to welcome travellers into their community to stay and share their culture with them. The homestay project is run entirely by Tharu women, which provides them with an income, but they also save a portion of all profits made from tourisms to invest back into the community for things such as environmental projects and educational scholarships.
Location - Monteverde, Costa Rica
Most conventional tourist initiatives in tourist regions displace farming culture. However Monteverde has managed to integrate the best of both economies for the local people. Life Monteverde is an agrotourism initiative that helps commericialise coffee growing and selling at a fair price for the growers. Around 12 families grow sustainable coffee and having a fairer wage allows them to improve their communities by employing other local people and seasonal workers.
Life Monteverde also hosts local school groups as well as international visitors to educate people about their sustainable practices. A homestay programme has been developed by the community, which brings employment for a further 10 local families.
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