Two hundred billion dollars. That’s what travelers spend in developing destinations every year. The opportunity for using that revenue to improve the quality of life in the destinations is not lost on most tourism industry professionals, including those at International Expeditions.
Since its inception in 1980, International Expeditions (IE) has been committed to responsible tourism, and strived to minimize its impact on places it visits. To do this, among other things, the company hires and trains expert local guides, who accompany travelers every step of the way.
International Expeditions is equally committed to conservation, but not as some large, North American company that swoops into an area, hands off a large check and leaves. IE prefers working as a partner with local communities whose people can provide an insider’s perspective on the daily challenges of life in the wild.
This model of understanding and partnership empowers local people, and helps create effective, long-term health and education solutions that ensure lasting opportunity while conserving local environments. It also leads to the development of a variety of conservation projects. In Peru, these projects address a host of local issues.
For many small villages in the depths of the Amazon, the lack of clean drinking water is a very real health issue for local people. Working in conjunction with a local NGO, IE built water treatment plants and point-of-use water treatment systems in many of these villages. Local medical clinics began reporting a difference in the health of villagers almost immediately.
This new access to clean water even stimulated the village economies, because they can use excess pure water to bake breads and make jams and marmalades to sell to nearby villages. By providing an alternative economic means, the local river people will not have to resort to logging for an income.
On its Amazon Voyage, International Expedition travelers will be able to see the clean water project up-close during village visits. Depending on the villages the group stops at, guests will see either one of the IE-funded water treatment towers or one of the schools where the company has funded portable water treatment systems in every school and home.
The Adopt-A-School program, created by IE and an NGO, CONAPAC, in 1993, matches schools in the USA with rural schools in the Amazon rainforest. It provides rural schools and students with school supplies while promoting environmental education in their communities. The program serves 120 schools with 4,200 students and teachers in 71 communities along the Amazon and Napo rivers. Before a child receives books and supplies, the parents sign a pledge to send their children to school every day and to use the supplies with respect. IE recently purchased an 18-foot boat to more easily deliver these supplies to the remote villages.
The Amazon Medical Clinic provides western medical care to more than 2,300 remote villagers each year. To learn more about this high-impact project, and its extraordinary founder, read here.
International Expeditions even created its own non-profit, the ACEER (Amazon Center for Environment, Education and Research) Foundation. With a $60,000 donation from IE as start-up funding, the ACEER Foundation is a hands-on education center that develops local and global environmental leaders who work to conserve and restore functioning landscapes in the Amazon Basin. Today, 25 years later, the ACEER Foundation is supported by IE guest donations, as well.
Among other things, IE established – and continues to fund – the ACEER Canopy Walkway, allowing scientists, educators, students and other travelers the opportunity to study the Amazon rainforest from above.
By engaging with, and truly understanding the needs of local communities, International Expeditions is able to advance its conservation mission in an effective manner that benefits all.