Seven trillion dollars and 284 million jobs: According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, that’s how much money and how many jobs the travel and tourism industry generated last year alone.  That’s a whole lot of people and power to be a global force for good. That’s where Tourism Cares comes in.

Tourism Cares is a 501(c)(3) charitable community that rallies the travel industry to give better together. Founded and supported by leading associations and companies in the travel industry, the Tourism Cares community invests its resources, talent and influence in a number of ways.

First, they support underappreciated and at risk destinations and communities. Through the Tourism Cares for Our National Parks series, 775 volunteers donated 5,000 hours at a value of $117,000 to the National Park Service. The 2017 Tourism Cares for Our Cities program will focus on places where volunteers will work on projects that can help improve the experience of visitors and the lives of locals.

The Tourism Cares community also invests in those entering the industry with scholarship and professional development opportunities for emerging leaders. Tourism Cares knows each company has their own goals in giving so the organization also shares travel corporate social responsibility knowledge and best practices within the travel community so that individual businesses can best support their own causes.

Tourism Cares recently launched the Good Travels Advisor (GTA) program, the first online training and certification platform that gives today’s agents the knowledge and tools to support clients who want to give back to the places and causes they love.

Demand for meaningful and authentic travel experiences is exploding, and the value of giving and volunteering is illuminated in the 2015 Good Travels research conducted by Phocuswright, finding that 55% of travelers said they gave back in some way in the last two years, which contributed to trip satisfaction and is especially important to millennials, families and the affluent.

The course covers the best practices of volunteer travel and much more, including an entire chapter on how to apply this knowledge to build business. Graduates have access to easy-to-use handouts and one year of GTA webinars, newsletters and support from Tourism Cares.

The multimedia course will take approximately 75 minutes, requires a $22 contribution to Tourism Cares, and two continuing education units can be earned. Agents can take the course at www.GoodTravelsAdvisor.org and starting December 1, travelers can search for their own certified GTA specialist on www.GoodTravels.org Join the 150+ travel companies who give better together, email Ellaine.Deeken@tourismcares.org.
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