Clean Travel owes much of its creation to the almost three years I spent living in Nepal, working with The Umbrella Foundation, an anti-child trafficking charity.
My time there changed my life and opened my eyes to a world beyond the corporate career I had embodied up until that point.
In addition to the significant personal development I also learned that aid and the traditional charity model was not sustainable and that in fact, most people didn’t want handouts.
There are countless hard-working, intelligent people around the world who, if given a chance, would happily earn their own way.
What they are lacking is the opportunity to do so.
In Nepal’s case, while its economy has always struggled at the best of time, the 2015 Earthquake brought the country to its knees.
It not only killed over 9,000 people but it destroyed thousands of homes and potentially millions of lives now and into the future because of the damage it did to the country’s communities, infrastructure and economy. It stunted the growth of the whole nation for decades to come.
With Nepal being home to the Himalayas and Mount Everest, tourism has always been one of the (very) few green shoots of growth.
This potential lead me to found a not-for-profit social enterprise called Umbrella Trekking in 2012.
An innovative organisation that offers adventure tours in Nepal all of Umbrella Trekking’s profits go to our partner charity, The Umbrella Foundation.
Crucially, because jobs are very hard to come by for young adults, every trip with Umbrella Trekking provides an internship to a youth from The Umbrella Foundation so that over time they can be trained as a tour guide and make a career for themselves in the tourism industry.
Clients love Umbrella Trekking, and we’ve benefited from the growing focus on impact travel, among a fast-growing travel market overall.
However, while we get a lot of word of mouth referrals we’ve always struggled to reach a broader audience online. We find it hard to compete with the large international operators that have massive advertising budgets.
While we have changed the lives of the young adults we’ve supported we have struggled as a small local organisation.
Our ongoing predicament got me thinking.
There is a growing community of local travel organisations globally that support their communities.
However, they are finding it harder and harder to differentiate themselves from the generic, well-funded large international companies.
What if there was a dedicated hub that brought all of the small travel operators together and served as a lightning rod to connect them with people that want to have a genuinely authentic experience?
Tourism is a massive global industry, and it contributed $1.4 trillion US dollars last year to the global economy and given its vast size, there is massive potential for it to have a positive social impact.
However, because large international tour companies currently dominate the sector just five out of every one hundred dollars spent by tourists stays in the country they visit.
We want to change that and show that by better sharing funds locally, tourism could serve as the greatest form of wealth distribution that the world has ever seen.
Clean Travel wants to reduce poverty and protect cultures and the environment through tourism by enabling you to book amazing immersive travel experiences with these locally run ethical travel organisations.
If you’d like more information on our model, please visit What is Clean Travel.
We are a for-purpose organisation that aims to make a difference through (fair) trade, not aid.
Over the next 20 years, twice as many people will be arriving in ‘developing’ counties compared to ‘developed’ markets.
By connecting you directly with local organisations, we’ll be helping to ensure that more of the money is retained and invested locally.
Similar movements have disrupted other industries such as Shoes (Toms), IT outsourcing (Samasource) and Adventure Apparel (Patagonia).
Our aim is to become the sustainable choice for tourism.
We want what has traditionally been seen as a niche offering or a potential way to travel, to become THE way to travel.
We are Clean Travel, and we invite you to Live The World with us.
Founder, Clean Travel