September 27, 2017
This week marks the United Nations’ annual World Tourism Day. The UN has announced the official theme as ‘sustainable tourism’. This means the big focus will be around raising awareness and encouraging institutions, both private and public, to come together in making tourism a positive catalyst for change. According to the UN, tourism, the third largest export industry in the world, has the capacity to contribute to all the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.
This is a cause I hold dear to my heart. With travel and tourism growing every year, many local, underprivileged communities are being displaced throughout the world - especially in high-growth travel destinations. Some of today’s high-growth tourism hot spots, while booming, are unable to pass on the full benefits to the local communities because of a lack of adequate education. In fact, many communities in high-growth destinations find themselves being displaced.
The travel and tourism industry has been a great platform for eNett to thrive, allowing us to rapidly grow year-on-year and expand into new markets. We have a responsibility to give back and that’s why we launched our annual CSR programme ‘Repay the eNett Way’ last year.
We didn’t want to simply donate to charity. We wanted to take a direct hands-on approach, shining a light on the challenges and pressures experienced by underprivileged communities around the world - and make a difference to the lives of people living there. Education has the power to transform the lives and futures of individuals, their families and local communities who may have been displaced by tourism. That’s why we are committed to making a positive difference in this area through the initiative.
In 2016, eight members of our team fundraised and travelled to Phnom Penh in Cambodia to help make improvements for the community, including refurbishing a sewing room and building a new playground. We also sponsored two individuals from the towns; the first to qualify as a travel tour guide and the second to gain a scholarship at one of the top local English speaking universities so that he could pursue his dream of becoming a translator. We witnessed first-hand the difference these types of initiatives, from a company of our size, can have on people’s lives.
In November, nine eNett employees will embark on our next initiative; travelling to the disadvantage township of Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Here, they will be part of a team of 282 volunteers from across the world taking part in the project which aims to build 14 new classrooms, two playgrounds and two new kitchens in one week. I can’t wait to see what they achieve, and impact it has on them and the community.
The fact that World Tourism Day highlights the need for sustainable tourism, should be a call to action for all travel companies to get involved. As a whole, the travel industry can do more to give back. Personally speaking, our Repay the eNett Way initiative has been phenomenal in bringing together the team like never before. I encourage every company, large or small, to look at how they can contribute to sustainable tourism. A little can go a long way in disadvantaged communities.
For further information on Repay the eNett Way, click here