Activity and adventure travel operator Exodus Travels has launched its own charity foundation and pledged to raise £500,000 for local causes and communities around the world over the next three years.
The Exodus Travels Foundation will aim to promote responsible, sustainable tourism to ensure its trips have a positive impact on the destinations and environments they visit.
It also wants to educate customers so they become ambassadors for responsible travel.
Half of the £500,000 Exodus has set out to raise will come directly from the tour operator, while beneficiaries will be identified by the operator through its local contacts.
Three causes have already benefited from Exodus’s charitable endeavours – The Inspiration Project, Maa Trust and The Porter Project.
“We’re delighted to announce this exciting new chapter in our commitment to the world we love to travel,” said Peter Burrell, chairman of the Exodus Travels Foundation.
“It brings together all the projects we have already been contributing towards and allows us to focus on distributing funds in the most efficient way possible.
“Each of our projects clearly aligns with at least one of our three pillars of education, empowerment and environment.
"The Exodus Travels Foundation will be the cornerstone of Exodus’ commitment to ethical practice, fair treatment and low environmental impact.”
Olympian Crista Cullen, who helped Team GB to hockey gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, has joined the foundation’s board of trustees.
Cullen, who has Kenyan heritage and speaks Swahili, trekked up Mount Kilimanjaro with a team of female porters to find out why The Porter Project, in particular, makes a different to these people’s lives.
The challenge, for added authenticity, saw Cullen scale the peak with a 20kg bag on her head.
“[It] was a great opportunity to put myself out of my comfort zone and into an environment where I felt both mentally and physically challenged,” said Cullen.
“It was exciting to be a part of a female team breaking down gender barriers and proving the only thing that really matters is resilience.
“Charitable work has always been close to my heart, and I feel I have a responsibility to bring attention to causes that help women to reach a better equilibrium, especially in Africa.”
The foundation is a registered charity, meaning donations from UK taxpayers will also benefit from gift aid.
All operational costs of the foundation will be funded by Exodus Travels, meaning 100% of donations and fundraising is spent exclusively on the projects and never on the administration.