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The Ripple Score: Bruce Poon Tip’s Top Destinations Where Your Money Does the Most Good

G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip is a pioneer of community-based tourism and the creator of the Ripple Score—a scale that measures how much of the money you spend on a trip stays local. In this episode, he shares his top spots—from Egypt to Ecuador, Costa Rica to Cambodia—where your spending has the greatest community impact.

Bruce Poon Tip is the founder of G Adventures, the world’s largest small-group travel company, which takes some 200,000 travelers annually on trips ranging from luxury yachting expeditions for boomers to hostel backpacking excursions for millennials. No matter how different each itinerary may look, they all revolve around the same core themes: cultural immersion, benefiting local communities, and creating a transformative experience for both traveler and host. Indeed, Poon Tip was talking about things like community-based trips and transformative travel long before most people were, and he joins host Bruce Wallin this week to discuss his picks for the best of both worlds: the destinations where your tourist spending has the greatest local impact—and you’ll have a truly amazing, authentic experience along the way. 

One of Poon Tip’s recent projects at G Adventures was to create the Ripple Score, which ranks each trip the company offers based on how much of the trip’s cost stays local. A high score means the majority of the money you spend goes to local hotel owners, transportation companies, restaurants, tour guides, and more. He says that creating the system—and accurately measuring the local impact of each trip—was a huge task that now informs how G Adventures plans every trip. It also made clear which countries are doing the best job at sharing the financial benefits of travel with local communities. 

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Those destinations, says Poon Tip, include Egypt, which he believes should be particularly of interest to travelers in 2022. Not only does a large portion of the Egyptian economy rely on tourism, with many people’s jobs depending on the return of international travelers, but Poon Tip says that it is the perfect time to see the country’s iconic sites, free of crowds. Wherever you go throughout the country, he adds, there are a number of high-quality, locally based options. 

Another country with strong community-based tourism is Ecuador, which Poon Tip includes among his favorite destinations for its diversity—from backpacking in the Andes, to diving in the Galapagos, to venturing through the Amazon basin, to exploring the indigenous markets outside of Quito. He discusses some of the issues of going local in Ecuador, including the choice between an LVMH-owned train to Machu Picchu or a somewhat “rough” locally owned option called Inca Rail.

 

Ecological diversity—and a commitment to protecting that diversity—is a hallmark of Costa Rica, which Poon Tip cites for its high percentage of preserved land, extensive national parks, and gorgeous beaches. He also talks about how Costa Rica is perfect for people at any stage in their “travel career.” 

For travelers looking to have an impact on conservation and sustainability, Poon Tip also suggests the highly diverse—and highly tourism dependent—countries of Southeast Asia. From the jungles and ancient temples of Cambodia, to the beaches of Thailand, to the historic cities and countryside of Vietnam, the region offers a plethora of a community-based travel experiences. 

Hosted by: Bruce Wallin

Produced and edited by: AJ Moseley

Music by: Joey Salvia