A Journey of Becoming: The Centre for GOOD Travel

Shelley Bragg
Mar 20, 2024

GOOD Travel is evolving. Like so many others in the tourism sector, the past two years have been a time of immense challenges and changes, as well as a time for reflection. Taking a step back from our day to day operations, and evaluating our current purpose and contribution has allowed a new way forward to emerge. 

This evolution is a recognition that the world has changed. Our commitment to transform the tourism industry into a force for good continues, but the way we’ll be doing that will look different as GOOD Travel, the tourism sector, and the world around us continues to evolve. 

We’d like to invite you into this journey through a series of blog posts documenting our transition into the Centre for GOOD Travel. This is the first in the series. We’re embarking on a journey of becoming: we’re embracing an emergent process, so we don’t know exactly where we’ll end up or what will emerge, but we’re welcoming change and invite you to join us on the journey too.

GOOD Travel’s Beginnings

When we started GOOD Travel, it was in response to what we (the founders of GOOD Travel) witnessed and experienced during our own travel journeys and our work within volunteering and voluntourism. We constantly met travellers who were passionate about and committed to making a positive impact in the places and communities they visited but that were often directed to activities or programs that were not putting the community or the environment first. 

We also worked with individuals and organisations that were harnessing tourism’s potential to improve the livelihoods of those within their community and to rehabilitate or preserve the environment they were within. 

We also recognised what a powerful learning experience travel can be and how, with intentional design, it can foster cross-cultural understanding and nurture global citizenship. Travel can offer perspective, introflection and a deep appreciation for the natural world.

We saw that there was a way for tourism to be a positive force for GOOD and we believed we could contribute to this future vision by focusing on education and advocacy. We ran trips, with the purpose of connecting travellers to tourism businesses committed to sustainable tourism, and we worked to enable  travellers to be the responsible and respectful travellers they aspired to be. We also undertook research and consulting, and we wanted to advocate to the industry as a whole as to why we needed to travel in a way that was more sustainable and what incredibly powerful potential this would hold to protect our planet and to address some of the socio-economic challenges faced in the world today. 

We have always believed in the power of tourism to affect change.

COVID-19 disrupts the tourism industry

When COVID-19 first began, we tried our best to keep the spirit of travel alive during our Virtual Travel Series. We know - through research and our own personal experiences - that travel can be a transformative educational experience. It offers new perspectives, deep connections with other cultures and ways of being, and it offers internal journeys of self-reflection, which often get neglected within our regular, daily life. We wanted to continue these experiences and continue to support our partners, even though we were largely grounded by the pandemic. 

As the year - and then years - drew on, the lives of our team members and partners were affected in different ways by COVID-19, and with a significant pause to our usual operations, we embraced the time to reflect, reassess and reimagine.

Our GOOD Travel team members, Debbie Clarke, Founder of New Zealand Awaits, and Josie Major, New Zealand Aotearoa Program Manager, began an explorative, and deeply personal journey into regenerative thinking, modelling and practice. They brought others into their journey with them through GOOD Awaits: The Regenerative Tourism New Zealand Podcast. They became the guides and stewards of GOOD Travel’s journey to critically assess our work of the past and looked to reimagine what GOOD Travel’s purpose is within the tourism ecosystem as we move towards a regenerative future for tourism.

The Centre for GOOD Travel 

As we undergo this process of internal and external reflection and unearthing, we are asking some key questions:

  • If we could reimagine the tourism industry, what would we envision? How has this changed since we started GOOD Travel?
  • What does the world need right now? How can tourism contribute to what is needed?
  • What capabilities does our sector need to develop to become regenerative?
  • Where do we see ourselves in the nested, complex, adaptive system of tourism?
  • What is our unique potential to help transform tourism systems?
  • Is the way that we are operating inclusive, responsible, respectful and in deep collaboration with others?
  • What capabilities do we need to develop individually, and as a team, to realise our potential? 

We have spent several months in structured sessions working through these questions and we are beginning to discern our direction forward - refining our strategies for how we develop capability and capacity in the tourism systems we’re part of through our trips, our partnerships and new projects that will emerge. 

For those of you who know us through our work, our trips, or through the podcast, we invite you to share your thoughts and reflection to these questions also. We’d be so appreciative to hear your insights about who we are.

Becoming the Centre for GOOD Travel is a reflection of our commitment to our original mission - to transform the tourism industry into a force for good. We hope to transform traveller mindsets, challenge business-as-usual ways of working, and to work at a systems level to transform our sector and those it interacts with. We aspire to be progressive thought leaders, empowering partners, generous hosts and mindful guests. We hope you’ll join us in this evolution. 

Read part 2 of this series: A Journey of Becoming - Who We Are

Interested to collaborate or learn more? Contact us on: info@good-travel.org

March 20, 2024
5 min read