Incredible experiences where travelers can have meaningful impact on the local community
Although travel has been put on hold in many places around the world, travellers are dreaming of their next adventure and the meaningful impact they want to have on local community development once it’s safe to travel again. Recent research conducted by Booking.com across five countries reveals that almost one-third (25%) ) of US travelers said that their post-coronavirus travel motivation lies in searching for new experiences and learnings, while for almost a quarter (19%) it lies in the dream of experiencing new and different cultures. When the time is right to travel again, travelers will be searching for destinations where they can both learn new skills and get fully immersed in local cultures for a more authentic experience. With that in mind, Booking.com is sharing a list of experiences that have been carefully selected from the alumni network of the Booking.com Booster accelerator program, which supports and funds startups that are making headway in different sectors throughout the entire sustainable tourism ecosystem.
Ghana has so much to offer owing to its welcoming beaches, vibrant culture and tropical climate. It is also famed for its sustainable development, its biodiversity and the conservation of its wildlife . Through Tastemakers, an ecotourism startup that joined the 2018 Booking Booster Program, travelers visiting Ghana can connect with local insiders to go on unique experiences, such as organized trips to see wildlife in their natural habitat, visit beautiful attractions off-the-beaten-track or have guided tours of some of the country’s unique cultural hotspots.
Where to stay: Praised for its impeccable service, Lemon Beach Resort exudes a serene atmosphere, featuring a communal lounge and evening entertainment such as a bonfire night, perfect for stargazing. The resort consists of a restaurant, a large outdoor swimming pool and children’s pool, a bar, garden and sun terrace, with spectacular views of the ocean and a fresh breeze. At the resort, each room incorporates local textiles and artwork, as well as a flat-screen TV and a seating area. Nearby, guests can enjoy a range of activities such as horseback riding, fishing and cycling.
Hanoi is also a fantastic destination for travelers looking to have an impactful experience due to its fascinating yet complex history and cultural heritage. The tourism startup I Like Local, a finalist from the 2019 Booking.com Booster Program, offers experiences for travelers looking to immerse themselves in the local culture, ranging from a cooking masterclass with a local resident to crafting workshops and hiking tours of the less explored area of Phu Long.
Where to stay: Conveniently situated in the heart of Hanoi, near plenty of attractions such as St Joseph’s Cathedral and the Hanoi Opera House, the cozy Chi Novel Hostel provides air-conditioned rooms, a stylish bar and a shared lounge and has been commended for its exceptional hospitality. The hostel is a great place to bond with other like-minded travelers and provides a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
They always say the best way to explore a place is by foot, and The Jordan Trail Association presents travelers with an incredible opportunity to experience various walking routes along the historic long-distance trail, which traverses the length of Jordan from Umm Qais to Aqaba. There are different routes to choose from, which all become a journey through the history of Jordan and a unique opportunity to encounter its diverse culture. The Jordan Trail Association was awarded a grant during the first round of funding for the 2018 Booking Cares Fund, for its responsible development of the trail and the organization’s commitment to protecting and maintaining it, while also connecting with local communities to create job opportunities.
Where to stay: One of the amazing walking routes finishes in Aqaba (the end of the Jordan Trail), which is a relaxed small-town right on the Red Sea and it is a hidden gem thanks to its unspoiled coral and atmospheric town center with a lot of shops to explore. Travelers will no doubt be very tempted to stay here after their walking adventure, especially with an overnight stay at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba. This beachfront 5-star hotel is also making headway in incorporating environmentally sustainable practices, from corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs that aim to improve the local community, to minimizing environmental harm through green initiatives that conserve daily operations energy.
For travelers wanting to discover the heritage of Colombia, a trip to Cartagena de Indias should be high up on the wish list as this city is hailed as being the most beautiful and well-preserved city in South America. Through Impulse Travel, a 2019 Booking Booster alumnus and grant recipient, travelers can be fully immersed in authentic cultural experiences that will leave them with a rich understanding of the Colombian and pre-Colombian (Zenú) heritage. The experiences through Impulse Travel also help contribute to making a positive impact on local communities by creating new economic opportunities for disenfranchised and at-risk residents.
Where to stay: Hotel Boutique Casona del Colegio strikes the perfect balance between historical colonial architecture and a sustainable, yet luxurious modern Colombian design, resulting in an impeccably stylish hotel. Located in the heart of the historical center,travelers won’t have to go far to discover Colombian history, as just a short walk away is the Cartagena's Gold Museum, which focuses on Gold jewelry and other pre-Columbian (Zenú) artifacts.
This enchanting city is just waiting to be explored thanks to its elaborate architecture and labyrinth of underground caves, of which there are around 200, and the Tomb of Gül Baba. Through Secret City Trails, travelers can playfully experience a city with self-guided city discovery games, finding the city's best hidden gems and local attractions. Founded in Amsterdam, Secret City Trails received a startup award grant in 2018 from Booking.com to develop their innovative sustainable travel solutions to encourage travelers to discover the deeper history/side of a city.
Where to stay: Offering an idyllic sun terrace and an on-site restaurant, the swanky Terrace Apartments at City Park are located in the Pest Region of Budapest, conveniently nearby the city center and within easy reach of transport links. After a long day of exploring like a local, this light and spacious accommodation is perfect for relaxing on the terrace and taking in the breathtaking views of the city. Additionally, cars and bikes are available to rent at the apartment, giving guests the opportunity to explore the city further.
For travelers on a quest to find new enriching experiences, Backstreet Academy, which was awarded the top grant from the first Booking Booster in 2017, offers a peer-to-peer travel platform that connects travelers with local residents through cultural and authentic experiences. Through this startup, travelers can choose from activities around Kathmandu, ensuring that travelers leave with more than a few holiday snaps – they leave with new skills learned and a strong understanding of the culture and day-to-day life in Kathmandu.
Where to stay: Nepal Pavilion Inn offers characterful and eco-friendly accommodation in the heart of Kathmandu where some of the capital’s finest heritage sites are conveniently nearby. A short walk away is the Hanuman Dhoka Durbar square, famous for its historical heritage and monuments including the Royal Palace which was originally founded during the Licchavi period (4th to 8th centuries CE).
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of adults who have taken a trip in the last 12 months. In total 3,509 respondents were polled including 609 from Germany, 677 from France, 723 from Great Britain, 750 from Italy and 750 from the US. Respondents completed an online survey between 25 and 30 June 2020.