As I continue on in my journey of following my passion for sustainable tourism and figuring out ways that I can give back and create positive impacts throughout the world via travel, I am beginning to surround myself with inspiring and impactful thought leaders in the realm of sustainable tourism. Today, I thought I would share one of these admirable people with you.
Her name is Dominique Callimanopulos. She is the founder and president of Elevate Destinations in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her inspiration for the creation of Elevate stems back to when she was younger. She traveled a lot and during this time and she witnessed in her words, the “gap in resources” between her life at home and the communities that she was able to visit. (Her revelation moments…)
Now Dominique and the Elevate crew are making extraordinary and unforgettable positive impacts throughout the world. They run 121 different types of trips in 29 countries, sprawling over almost every continent. Their mission of transformative travel aims to transform both travelers and destinations through travel and meaningful experiences. Many of these trips include service and volunteer trips. Elevate offers Donor Travel trips where the donor has the opportunity to travel to the communities they are supporting. This is creating a deeper connection, increased cultural exchange and long lasting impressions on the donor and the community.
Elevate also offers Urgent Service Trips to Haiti. Not only is Elevate connecting volunteers to disaster relief programs on this trip but they are ensuring that their efforts are socially and environmentally sustainable.
In my email interview with Dominique she said, “Our donor travel programs for international non-profits have helped to raise millions of dollars to address a wide range of issues, including water and sanitation, women’s empowerment, poverty alleviation and more. Our Urgent Service volunteer trips to Haiti have raised funds for youth on the ground.” Additionally, Elevate provides carbon offset options for all land portions of travel and also encourages offsetting your flights. They partner with the most sustainable accommodations in the areas they visit, ensure their partners are following sustainability guidelines and much more. Not only is Elevate managing to accomplish all of these initiatives, but on top of everything they are donating 5% of the net cost of all private trips back to non-profit and local community partners that support conservation and social efforts.
It is important to remember that while the world may be our oyster we must honor its beauty, preserve cultures and the environment, lift up communities by asking them what they need and travel to contribute the fabric of the world rather than taking away from it. Elevate is doing just this. Support people, initiatives and companies that are paving the way for this to exist in the future.
Lastly, her words of advice to me were, “focus on creating lasting partnerships both with tour operators and trusted non-profits that are engaged for the long term in community-led initiatives. Cultivate a network of colleagues working toward similar goals, participate in associations to leverage your impact and innovate”. If you are passionate about responsible travel and respecting the environment and communities that we get to be witness to I would love to connect and share with you.
I thank Dominique and the Elevate crew for your work and inspiration. I urge you to check ’em out.
All photos courtesy of Elevate Destinations