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Swedish tour operator sets new standard for responsible tourism

TTourism has the power to change the nation. We have always said that and believe that it is our responsibility to make it happen… as an industry, as tour operators and as people. While profit is a prime point of reference for all of us in this industry, we tend to forget that there is always an opportunity to give back at the same time.

Newly launched Swedish tour operator Influence Tours is setting a whole new standard for responsible tourism by donating 100% of profits to development in South Africa. The operator will offer small group and FIT travel that showcases the best that South Africa has to offer. Focus is on premium travel experiences with a conscience, and products are selected based on their sustainability credentials.

Influence Tours is the brainchild of Swedish business man Jan Nytomt, who came to South Africa on a personal holiday in 2014. “I immediately saw the potential the country has as a tourism destination, but I was deeply disturbed by the situation that many children face. I wanted to create a way to generate continuous and substantial funding to support township children in Cape Town.”

Tapping into the high-spending luxury travel segment by offering sustainable holidays with a conscience seemed to be the solution, and Influence Tours was born. 100% of the profits will be donated to development through local partner Township Roots, that provides children in at-risk areas with extra-mural activities as a means to help reduce early dropout in schools and to foster a culture of “striving for excellence”.

Bulelani Futshane, Director and Founder of Township Roots says, “Our goal is to build leaders within the townships by helping young people enjoy school and look towards a life beyond the poverty stricken environment they live in.”

Having grown up in a desperately poor household, Bulelani understands the challenges that face these children. He is also a testament to the power of education, and the perfect role model for the children he works with.

Influence Tours will offer travel to South Africa in the Scandinavian market starting in the second half of 2016. However, the impact of its vision is already apparent. Bulelani has been employed by Influence Tours to run Township Roots (something that he previously did on a voluntary basis outside of a full-time job). Bulelani will also be sponsored to complete his tourist guide credentials in order to develop tourist experiences in the township and thus another line of income for Township Roots and the wider community.

As we all form part of the tourism industry in South Africa, we have a responsibility to help grow all the areas that help us make money. It is the circle of giving. It doesn’t have to be all your profits in the case of this extreme, but if we truly think about it, there are a number of ways we can make a difference to our surrounding areas. This is a win-win for South Africa and tourists everywhere. Get out there and start making a difference.

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