Responsible Holidays project, supported by the Brookes Alumni Fund
While studying at university Ian took up a teaching post in a refugee camp in Burma where he describes how he came to experience some of the realities which tourists do not usually see. Then in 2007 Ian visited flood and earthquake hit regions of the high Amazon, and worked with projects to help local communities rebuild.
These two experiences have helped to shape Ian’s life.
When he took part in the ‘Passion to Action’ social entrepreneurship programme at Brookes this year he saw the opportunity to be able to help the riverside communities and people who have been displaced by dam initiatives in the Amazon region.
Without ways to earn a living from the forest these people can themselves contribute to forest degradation or face urban migration and poverty. Finding ecological and sustainable sources of income is vitally important both to their wellbeing and to the future of the rainforest.
Ian’s vision is to develop eco-tourism in the area, initially based around bird-watching holidays. Success would mean the creation of a completely new strand of income for these communities.
Earlier this year Ian pitched his idea to the ‘Passion to Action’ panel and received an award which has been funded by the Brookes Alumni Fund. This funding will enable him to do in-depth market research to prove the viability and sustainability of the programme, which could prove crucial to its success.