“Why do you do this?” This was the most commonly asked question asked of One Horizon Africa from large tour groups when it was looking for distributors of its tours. That was less than 10 years ago and long before the travel industry had an epiphany that later called tours like ours “sustainable and/or responsible” tourism.
As a Not- for-Profit organisation that conducts tours of its projects that help lift people from poverty, the travel industry was simply perplexed by One Horizon. Until we realized that we were speaking different languages. Multinational travel groups are about profit, margins and commissions. That’s fair enough. But One Horizon spoke about community well-being and helping people out of poverty. And the basis of everything One Horizon does, irrespective of whether we have tourists as guests or not, are the humanitarian programs that go on day in and day out, as they have for over 10 years.
However the desire by tourists to engage in sustainable and responsible tourism existed 10 years ago, it was just denied by the tour groups who wouldn’t back it because it didn’t seem to fit their profit driven model. They might well be correct on this point. But they did see an opportunity to tie themselves to organisations like One Horizon as they attempted to build credibility with travelers.
And then One Horizon emerged to shake the tree. We wanted people to be involved in our work, we didn’t mark up prices on hotels (which scared the life out of travel agents) and everyone wondered how we did it. And the fees we charged in offering tours to guests went totally into funding our humanitarian projects. Yes, we were the black sheep of the tourism industry. Shame on us!
How things have changed! Travelers are dragging the travel industry into the 21st century. A more compassionate and educated populace driving the change and demanding opportunities to give back. And One Horizon has been a part of this social movement. And at a time when the Corona virus is ravaging the world, One Horizon’s work with communities goes on funding the programs to ensure people have stepping stones to a future.