A new multi-million fund has been established to help support travel industry start-ups that are working to address the critical sustainability challenges faced by the tourism industry and the planet.
The new initiative, labeled the Reset Tourism Fund, was launched by the UnTours Foundation and is kicking off with $10 million available to further its goals.
In addition to UnTours, the new fund is backed by some of the industry’s heaviest hitters and well-known names, including Expedia Group, TUI Care Foundation, Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), Flywire, and B Tourism.
A statement issued by the UnTours Foundation says the new fund aims to “identify those entrepreneurs whose businesses best represent a better future of tourism.”
Already, some $540,000 has been distributed to promising startups. The phase one goal of the fund is to distribute some $1 million.
“We all believe that the future of tourism must be more sustainable, equitable and community-focused, but there has long been a gap for the small businesses leading the way in that effort – flexible and affordable capital to help them grow,” Shannon Stowell, CEO of ATTA, and a well-known advocate for sustainable travel said in the statement issued by UnTours. “The Reset Tourism Fund will help bridge that gap and is a key development to drive our industry into a better, more high-impact future.”
Some of the businesses that have already benefitted from this important new effort include:
—Purple Elephant Ventures
—Kenya-based GoPark Safaris
—Play Viva, a Mexico-based boutique hotel
Purple Elephant Ventures is an effort that was established last year and is focused on building a portfolio of startups in the region that are each focused on addressing a separate aspect of the sustainability and climate change crisis.
Kenya-based GoPark Safaris, meanwhile, offers eco-tours and excursions focused on encouraging appreciation for diversity and support for local communities.
Playa Viva is a regeneration-driven beach hotel that recently secured B Corp status. For those not familiar, B Corps are for-profit brands that are focused on using the power of business to help create a more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system for people and the planet.
Playa Viva, whose motto is “Where your vacation meets your values,” opened in 2008 and sits within 200 acres of nature reserve on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Its founders are focused on transforming “the experience of what a hotel can be, both in terms of the hotel’s community and environmental impact and the guest’s journey.”
Reset Tourism Fund representatives have said that between $10,000 and $100,000 in loans or revenue-based financing and equity is being invested in startups around the world.
“UnTours Foundation has a 30-year history in providing flexible financing to world-changing entrepreneurs at the front lines of fighting poverty, injustice, and the climate crisis. Reset Tourism Fund is an exciting extension of this effort, focusing specifically on tourism, the industry that we know best, as owners of our own sustainable and Certified B Corporation travel company.”