In a previous post I talked about Walking the World, an adventure tour company headed by veteran guide Ward Luthi, which caters just to travelers age 50 and up and specializes in walking and hiking trips in Europe, Asia, Latin America and beyond.
Luthi — who has met challenges as an Outward Bound instructor and successful tour company owner since 1987 — is now taking on new ones: giving back to local people around the world — particularly to those in Central America — who, as he puts it, “have given so much to me and my fellow travelers.”
Giving back is one of three pillars of Walking the World’s motto: “Get Up — Go Wild — Give Back.”
“Get Up” essentially means getting off the couch or up from your desk and going walking or hiking. “Go Wild,” Luthi explains, means both exploring some of the earth’s wild places and also to “let loose”– as, he contends, people are meant to do: to “unleash the wild person inside.”
And as for giving back, Luthi has three particular projects in mind: building schools, planting trees, and helping to provide clean cook stoves. He’s partnering with nonprofit agencies working in Central America to do just that.
Luthi is currently committed to help build a school in Nicaragua, and for years has helped provide classroom materials to schools in Costa Rica and Peru as well, along with working to combat the ravages of deforestation.
And he’s now starting a big new campaign to provide families with clean cook stoves. As many as four million people each year, mostly women and children, die from toxic smoke emitted by traditional three-stone fires used to cook family meals — a shocking statistic. (Worldwide, about half the world’s population still cooks on such fires.)
His goal is to find one million people who will donate $10 each towards these projects. 100,000 people donating $10 a year would bring in $1 million, allowing Luthi and his partners to build at least 40 classrooms, plant 300,000 trees and build 1,000 stoves annually.
You can get more information on his work at www.1stove.org.
While Luthi isn’t pursuing these projects to gain business, my guess is that they will have that effect. Surveys have shown that baby boomers are more likely to opt for a tour agency that gives back to local people or donates to worthy charities than those that don’t. And folks who take walking tours tend to have a special appreciation for meeting local residents and helping out if they can.
So this is a win-win both for Walking the World and, more importantly, the people of Central America.
Added note: Baby boomers as a group are proving to be generous with charitable donations. According to a new study, 43 percent of all charitable dollars in the U.S. now come from boomers. Nearly three-quarters of all boomers made donations, averaging more than $1,200 each in 2012.
Be sure to download my free report, “How to Ride the Coming Wave of Boomers,” available here. It’s all about the best ways to market travel to baby boomers — the biggest-spending group of travelers the world has ever seen.
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