Good Tours serve up ethics

Tourism for good:  Eliza Raymond in Peru’s Sacred Valley in the Andes, a place of ‘‘snow-capped mountains and Incan ruins’’ – one of the stops on her first Good Travel tour.
Tourism for good: Eliza Raymond in Peru’s Sacred Valley in the Andes, a place of ‘‘snow-capped mountains and Incan ruins’’ – one of the stops on her first Good Travel tour.

An Eastbourne woman is inviting travellers to tuck into exotic foods and experiences in Peru, while helping out local firms with a social or ecological conscience.

Eliza Raymond says with global tourism generating $1.3 trillion in export earnings in 2012, the potential for the industry to make a positive global impact is huge.

''Although tourism in developing  countries has often been characterised by large-scale resorts, environmental degradation  and limited benefits for the poor, a growing number of locally owned tourism businesses are embracing corporate social responsibility,'' she says.

''At the same time, international tourists are increasingly seeking a more responsible and authentic travel experience.''

That's the vein her new guided tour company Good Travel aims to tap.

 Raymond has seen a fair bit of the world.  As well as a lot of independent travel, including in Asia and Nepal, she has been a worker with the Global Volunteer Network in Africa and South America.

She lived and worked for two years in Peru, became fluent in Spanish and discovered ''amazing restaurants and shops doing great things''. 

''But the majority of travellers never got to see them because they were off the beaten tourist tracks.''

Raymond and three other women she has travelled with - residents in Peru, South Africa and the United States - co-founded Good Travel. 

A seven-day guided trip to ''culinary hotspot'' Peru (August 3 to 10 this year) is the first of what they hope will be many tours to developing countries.

Good Travel is committed to exclusively partner with hotels, restaurants and tour operators which actively work to improve their local community, environment and economy. 

''We have a survey form we get businesses to complete. Some [businesses] are very committed to boosting their local community, but there are varying levels of that commitment,'' Raymond says.

For example, all profits from one partner restaurant in Cusco go to a community centre for children. 

''All the staff are locals; some of the kids from the community centre get training and jobs at the restaurant when they leave school.''

The tour will head into the Amazon jungle in Peru's interior, where there is an eco-lodge ''doing amazing conservation work, including a research project on parrots''.

Food-inspired trips seemed a good point of difference for the fledgling company, and Raymond says Peru is the gastronomic epicentre of Latin America. Local cuisine is a way to gain insights on culture and local people when time is tight.

Lima, on the coast, is the country's capital and home of the most culinary schools in South America. Raymond says the seafood, particularly the cerviche, is delicious.

In the Amazon jungle, where one activity will be searching for giant river otters, the cuisine is heavier, with dishes big on rice, and often wrapped in the leaves of trees. 

''There will also be the option of ''something unusual and insecty ...a great photo opportunity!''.

In Cusco, in the Andes, the group will visit local markets, participate in a Pisco Sour cocktail workshop, and tour the Sacred Valley. 

Tasty soups are a specialty there, and guinea pigs roasted whole.

Good Travel is establishing a directory of firms that work for social, environmental and economic good, so that those who wish to travel independently can look them up.

But Raymond and her business partners are hoping there will be plenty of travellers who like the idea of a tour with all the hassles of booking, language barriers and finding things taken care of.

''We're also proud to be able to contribute $200 from each trip fee to support a local charity that is enabling Peruvian  girls to study at culinary school and rise out of poverty.''

- See good-travel.org or contact Eliza on eliza@good-travel.org

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