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A new kind of tourism: Supporting communities around the world

Guests mend fishing nets at the Tribewanted site

Guests mend fishing nets at the Tribewanted site in Sierra Leone. Credit: Guests mend fishing nets at the Tribewanted site in Sierra Leone.

There’s a new fun and interactive way to see the world: through the lens of a sustainable community.

Tribewanted, an ecotourism cooperative based in the U.K., works in three communities around the world: John Obey Beach in Sierra Leone, Vorovoro Island in Fiji and as of last month, Monestevole in Umbria, Italy. They are on a mission: to change the way people look at the world by encouraging ecotourism.

Filippo Bozotti and Ben Keene founded the company in 2006 to raise funding and awareness of sustainable ecotourism. They partner with communities to introduce green energy, water recycling and permaculture.

“The idea is to bring a group of people together online and help fundraise for these communities,” Keene said.

Bozotti says that what sets Tribewanted apart from other ecotourism projects is its additional layer of membership.

While anybody can visit the Tribewanted locations without joining the tribe itself, becoming a group member brings a number of added perks. Members pay $16 per month, with the payments building up. When a Tribewanted member chooses to visit a location, all expenses are deducted from that account. Nonmembers pay out of pocket.

“Tribewanted is open to everybody who wants to come visit,” said Bozotti. “We even had a one-year-old at our Sierra Leone project recently. We find that families really get involved and teach their children this way of life from a young age.”

But how is it a vacation?

“Of course, [guests] pay to come, so they can lie in the hammock all day if they want; but most of them come to get their hands dirty and work in the garden, feed the animals, milk the cow — and take a little bit of that home with them and maybe change their lives to become a little more sustainable,” Bozotti said.

All Tribewanted members also have the power to vote on a new community location (with each 10,000 new members, Tribewanted opens a new sustainable community); the next potential location is in the U.S.

“Ideally, the ultimate challenge would be to build in an urban setting. We’re in discussions very early on with the city of Detroit, for example, and visited a location they had in mind,” an excited Bozotti explained. “After all, 50% of people in the world live in cities, and our goal is to show how we can live sustainable 50 years from now.”

Tribe member and current Hampshire College student Nadia Ogbor said that Tribewanted is a permanent fixture in her life.

“It’s a great place to go to see community that’s different from your own,” she explained. “In my mind, it’s always something I can go back to.”

Tribewanted is ideal for adventurous travelers of all ages.

“No matter if you’re young or older and retired, it’s very possible to find your niche with Tribewanted,” said Ogbor.


More sustainable timeshares and ecotourism groups

Gaia Vista An up-and-coming sustainable tourism community, Gaia Vista offers “eco-timeshares” at its Costa Rica retreat location to those interested in becoming a part of a Green community through online and physical participation.

One Community This organization acts as a facilitator for groups all over the world in need of volunteers for green and environmentally friendly community efforts, and offers a developing timeshare program in these sustainable communities for a fee.

Trelowarren Offering a vacation that is centered on both being green and environmentally sustainable, Trelowarren is for those looking for a more luxurious side to ecotourism.

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