2017 has been declared as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations (UN) and we at Global Family Travels are honored to play a role by offering immersive journeys in support of quality education that support this UN resolution. A driving force of global economic growth, tourism currently accounts for 1 in 11 jobs worldwide. Through this declaration, the United Nations recognized that this sector has a unique opportunity to contribute to three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental. Tourism also offers the chance to build bridges, thereby fostering “a better understanding among peoples… leading to a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures, thereby contributing to the strengthening of peace in the world”. (UNWTO)
Tourism contributes to many of the 17 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, through its impacts on fighting poverty, promoting decent jobs, improving gender equality and the fight against climate change. Many of Global Family Travels’ Learn, Serve, and Immerse tours align with these goals and we want to share one that is important to us: universal quality education.
Access to quality education is key to improving people’s lives and sustainable development. Despite progress, in 2013, “59 million children of primary-school age were out of school” whether they ultimately dropped out or were unable to even begin. For those able to attend school, the quality of education is a concern with as many as 90% of students in some countries failing to achieve primary school proficiency in subjects such as reading and mathematics (UNWTO).
Supporting education for children in the communities we work with is one of Global Family Travels’ top priorities, and many of our trips feature a service component with a focus on education. Take our trip to South Africa, for example, where your family will have the opportunity to be positive role models by working with underserved children by providing tutoring, mentoring, or assisting with after-school programs.
Similarly, travelers on our Learn, Serve Immerse in Little Tibet trip have the chance to sponsor the education of a child in Ladakh, India through our partner, the Siddharta School Project, (SSP), which was founded and is directed by a Ladakhi Buddhist monk to improve the education options for the local community. SSP hires local staff and provides employment to Tibetan refugee teachers who are not eligible to work in government schools due to there citizenship status.
SSP Executive Director, Laura Kozaitis, shared this with us: "What is more, our graduates go on to do terrific work in the community. We have several graduates right now that are studying in greater India or the USA because there are great opportunities for them—but they all return to do community project work in the summer. These projects, of their design, are providing critical services locally and in remote areas, in women’s health, journalism, youth mentoring, and environmental cleanup.” Learn more from a graduate of SSP about how precious this education was to her.
Some of our trips even involve us facilitating cross-cultural school exchanges for students to discuss important topics such as access to clean water and sanitation, or sustainable cities and communities, two other important sustainable development goals.
Our year of Sustainable Tourism offers a unique opportunity to highlight how tourism has the potential to transform our world into a "place of prosperity and wellbeing for all,” (UNWTO) and we are excited to have you join us in making a positive impact by supporting the sustainable development goal of quality education in our global community!