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Redefining Tourism with Context Travel

Redefining Tourism with Context Travel

 

Last Friday, the team at B Lab, the nonprofit which certifies B Corporations, enjoyed trekking around Center City Philadelphia on one of (newly certified) Context Travel’s Philadelphia walking tours—or, as they call them, “walking seminars.” Context Travel is based on the fundamental belief that “Knowledge is power” – the power to know more about the place you visit, the people who live there, and how to be a positive force during your stay. The company began with a simple goal, to connect intellectually curious travelers with those who best know the places they are visiting.

Context docent, Julie, led our public art-themed walking seminar. With an extensive academic background in Philadelphia’s public art, she brought, not only a wealth of information, but a passion for learning and sharing. The walk felt more like a one-to-one conversation tailored to our interests and set to our own pace. A group highlight was our detour into the Rodin museum, which, many of us Philly natives didn’t even know existed. The group was small enough that our change in plans had little effect on the experience of others visiting the museum and our walk was flexible enough to allow for a little adventure. By the end of our trip, we all had a better understanding of what it means to do tourism differently.

At the core of Context’s mission is a sentiment familiar to all B Corps, ‘Let’s go to the root of a problem and transform it into something beneficial.’ While living in Rome, founders Paul Bennett and Lani Bevacqua saw first hand the negative impact large scale tourism can have on a city. Tourism had become something for the masses and those masses were choking the city’s culture. Meanwhile scholars and professionals studying archaeology, architecture, art, and history were looking for ways to support themselves while pursuing their studies. Paul and Lani decided to connect the dots and brought together these specialists, or ‘docents’, and travelers for a meaningful learning experience.

Context Travel continuously looks at the bigger picture of their impact on the planet and cities. They work with organizations such as Sustainable Travel International and offset all of their carbon use, a significant problem in the travel industry. Context Travel also equips their docents with information about local restaurants, businesses, public transportation, and more to help travelers continue to be beneficial tourists. This way the real vibrancy of the city can flourish.

Since their beginnings in Rome, Context Travel has grown to include 15 cities throughout Europe and America. They plan to nearly double their cities over the next two years and expand to Asia. Bennett and Bevaqua saw B Corporation Certification as a great way to ensure that their company keeps using the power of tourism for good. Bennett states,“We saw benefit immediately, even in the process of certification.” The assessment provided the tools and resources needed to improve and grow. By measuring and assessing impact as they expand, Context Travel will continue to redefine tourism and foster good growth in cities around the world.

Thank you Julia and Context Travel for a great time. To learn more , Better Know Context Travel.

 

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105 comments

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11:04PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

Something I would really appreciate. I could image myself finding a town in such a perspective. I wish it will increase to many more places!

New York Hotel

1:42PM PST on Dec 19, 2011

thanks

12:35AM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

what is a holiday?

12:16AM PDT on Sep 13, 2011

here in the uk it so much tax we cant afford a holiday

9:48AM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

Was involved with a similar tourism company in traveling in South Africa several years ago. It just stands to reason & makes sense in terms of conservation & preservation in so many varied ways. Such pre-organization not only helps a traveler become a good responsible guest to the host city/country; but it also builds efficient use of time & money to render the vacation experience enjoyable & pleasant for the visitor. During our group tour, I observed that the tourism agency made frequent attempts to assess the interests of the group members & adapt & adjust the itinerary to suit the group needs. It was NOT a totally programmed, one-size-fits-all vacation package. I am glad to recommend such tourism agencies that assist to diminish & dispel the image of the "Ugly American" both at home in the USA and around the world.

9:37AM PDT on Sep 10, 2011

We are blessed with an acre of beauty with an inground pool. All who share love my cooking and hospitality. Even though being at home in the warm weather is more work for me.. there`s no place like home, and I am gratful to share it with all who mean so much to our family.Like being on staycation with everyone you want to be with ..minus the unwanted crowds.

1:35AM PDT on Sep 9, 2011

Sounds like an enjoyable way to learn about a city - and maybe work off any holiday indulgence at the same time! :-)

Janie C. you can click on one of the links in the article to find the fees. As an example, I looked at Boston and found several tours for $65/person or $300/group.

4:43PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Thanks for posting.

10:16AM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Wonderful! So that I will know if the average, on a tight budget, vacationer should consider entertaining the idea, how much does it cost?

9:33PM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

First of all, people meeting face-2-face is great.Second, the whole concept is positive.I like the idea and would enjoy doing it,too.

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