Adventure Travel for Sustainable Development
The Outdoor Journal & Voyage joins us in just a couple days for the first ever Booking.com Booster Lab in Barcelona! The media and travel booking platform builds a conscious community of explorers, who can then access the types of experiences they read about. It connects local operators with outdoor enthusiasts, making space for wildlife conservation and sustainable development.
We spoke to Apoorva, founder & CEO of the Outdoor Journal & Voyage, journalist, and mountaineer, about his startup, its genesis, and its impact on the tourism industry. Read on to see what he had to say.
What triggered you to start the Outdoor Journal & Voyage?
I grew up close to the mountains and forests of Northern India, with summer vacations deep in the Himalayas or in the jungles of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. These were pristine wilderness zones in the 1980s. I moved to the US and Europe and became an adventure journalist. When I returned to these places as an adult, I was horrified to discover my personal Edens being bulldozed to make way for apartment buildings and shopping malls, factories and roads; replacing wondrous natural beauty with smog and sewage. As an an international journalist traveling the world, I saw this destruction repeated all over - all for so-called "economic development". I felt strongly there were alternative ways for development, such as adventure tourism, that could both help bring economic prosperity to underdeveloped regions. while preserving wilderness and local cultures.
Many years ago, Lorenzo and I were snorkeling with whale sharks in the apparently protected marine reserve of Donsol in the Philippines, and realised that not all the boats were following the rules. We wondered, how could anyone ensure that the local guides and outfitters were genuinely protecting this marine ecosystem while also receiving all the benefits of thousands of tourists? A few years later, Zo and I went paragliding in northern India. It took months for us to find the best, safest, most qualified paragliding instructor we wanted to learn from. These experiences, among many more, led us to realize that we needed to build a system to help adventure travellers everywhere find, review and book the safest, best-qualified local operators anywhere.
What is the Outdoor Journal & Voyage and what is its impact on the travel industry?
The Outdoor Journal & Voyage is a media and travel booking platform, building a scalable and profitable business while promoting diverse and alternative voices, sustainable development and wilderness conservation. Our media platform builds a conscious community, who can then book the adventures they read about. Our business acts as a two-sided platform between outdoor enthusiasts and local operators, worldwide. For customers, we offer curated, high-quality, high-safety adventures across the globe; led by an editorial/media-driven customer acquisition strategy. On the supplier-side, we offer global reach to their target customers, with zero sales and marketing cost. We offer friction-less matching and ease of bookings for both sides.
When adventure travel is booked in the traveler's home country via traditional agents, 65% of the money stays in the home country instead of the region where the activity or travel is actually performed. With a platform we can measure the increase in money flows to these parts of the world, including the impact that these local businesses have on their local economy.
What recent milestones are you most proud of?
We recently crossed 75 agreements with operators! That's a fantastic validation of our goal to help local businesses anywhere in the world connect with travelers. We currently cover 50+ destinations, with over 700 contacted. We have 100K visitors to our pages, 30K following us on social media and a network of 200+ content contributors.
What prompted you to apply for the Booster Lab – Barcelona?
Our team is highly qualified in different arenas, including media content, PR, technology, marketing and sales, but we seek mentoring in sustainable tourism from a high-level perspective, backed by the technical know-how and understanding of the online booking space.
We can’t wait for Apoorva and Lorenzo to join us on Friday at our kick-off event to the inspiring, productive, and fruitful weekend ahead. The Outdoor Journal & Voyage will be with 10 other startups selected to participate in our Booster Lab and pitch for 10 to 20k on Sunday at our Final Pitch Event. Read back on yesterday’s blog on subcultours, and follow us the rest of the week to read about the final two startups.