Stories of Resilience
The tourism sector is struggling but here are some stories of resilience from our team to keep us all going through this dark period.
One in ten people across the world work in tourism. Of course, this means that more than a 10th of the world is impacted by the fact that this sector has been halted by COVID-19. Forbes has predicted that internationally tourism will suffer revenues losses of up to $1.2 trillion. The tourism slowdown is expected to have the most detrimental impact on the world’s least developed countries where tourism accounts for a higher percentage of their GDP. Women and young people the world over will be the demographic most affected by the loss of work in this sector.
Our dream would have been to give all of our full and part time teams income security during this COVID period. Sadly, with zero income, this hasn’t been possible. At different times throughout this last year, members of our team have found innovative ways to adapt. Thank you to those of you who have already found a way to support one or more of these enterprises.
MYANMAR – Face Masks
Many of you will know Nay Win who has been sharing his broad smile and warm demeanour with our guests at Inle Lake for the last decade. A few years ago, he was hosting our wonderful midwife friend Frances and her daughter, and they dreamt up an enterprising project to support the lotus thread weavers on the lake. Katherine set up Thread Tales which has gone from strength to strength since then. Katherine was quick to check in on Nay Win when the virus hit and together, they hatched a plan. Nay Win and his wife Moe Moe have since made over 900 silk face masks for Katherine to sell. Moe Moe and Nay Win have now recruited many local tailors near Inle to help them to hand make these beautiful masks. “Thread Tales means getting an income for all of us during this hard time. It’s a good thing in our life.” Click here to order one of these stunning masks and thereby support dozens of families in Myanmar.
MONGOLIA – Veloo Foundation
We have been supporters of the amazing Veloo Foundation for years.
Before the virus hit, we had donated a sum to the charity. Kindly Julie and her team used this money to then employ members of our Ulaanbaatar team during much of 2020. We love the quadruple win involved in this – our team were able to not only pay their bills, they managed to learn some new skills and feel good about the really constructive and helpful work that they did for the charity. During the period working for the charity, our team expanded the monthly sponsorship programme inside of Mongolia and applied for international grants to ensure ongoing sustainable operations. Their work went towards helping the charity to expand their programme and to help them achieve the goal of more children having access to educational opportunities and to escape the cycle of poverty.
We are particularly proud of Chimka who is normally in charge of our equipment in Mongolia. She took to the challenge of securing donations in kind for Veloo in a year when their monetary donations were low. Using her charm, she managed to get school uniforms, footwear, bags and toys with a value of nearly $6000!
Click here if you would like to help to support Veloo with the important work that they do for the community who used to live off Ulaanbaatar’s main rubbish dump,
BHUTAN – Tree Planting
As many of you will already know, Bhutan is proudly the first climate positive country in the world. Whilst the rest of the world sets out to get to Net Zero by 2030 or even 2050, Bhutan is already sequestering more carbon than they emit. When the new Prince was born, the country came together to plant 108,000 trees!
Earlier this year when it was apparent that there was no tourism work 15 of the drivers and guides that host our guests in Bhutan set out to work with Green Bhutan to plant over 1000 saplings in two regions of Bhutan.
UK - Slippers, PJs, Baby clothes and Yoga
During long lockdowns and extended periods being furloughed, Emily has made the most of her talents and skills. Aside from recording some music, Emily has been teaching online yoga sessions and also taking bookings at the “Mongolian portal” for holistic massages. She is sending a percentage of her takings to support colleagues in Mongolia.
Other members of the PJ team have been creative and been selling special goodies. Jade who was still on maternity when COVID hit has set up Mummy and Max, an enterprising business selling designer baby clothes. Amanda is currently setting up a company selling bespoke pyjamas and other great handmade items.
As many of you will know, Panoramic Journeys guests in Mongolia are given a pair of slippers on arrival. The order of about 300 pairs of slippers each year is an important source of income for the co-operative of people with disabilities that make the slippers. With this in mind, Karina and James paid for the shipping of the 2020 slippers to the UK in the hope that selling them in Europe would enable us to still place our 2021 order. There are still plenty of these comfortable felt slippers available on their Mongolian Felt Slipper website.
MONGOLIA - Tsaatan Library
During 2019, the PJ team were proud to arrange an ambitious film shoot Becoming You for Warner Brothers in the remote taiga of Northern Mongolia. The stories that were filmed with the Tsaatan reindeer herders were a part of a series that Apple TV have used to launch their new platform.
Prior and during the filming, our full time Guide and Film Shoot assistant Ariuna built a special bond with the community. During this COVID year she has been fundraising to set up a library for the Dukha. We were proud that Black Tomato chose to feature this enterprising move as one of their first “journeys to come inspirations.”
UK – Gers
Realising that cashflow issues were ahead, Karina and James rented out their house for much of the summer holidays and lived in an idyllic ger on the North Atlantic Coast. The ger was set up as a potential place to host guests but in the end, the only time that the Moretons moved out was for Rob from PJ’s close partners Black Tomato. Karina and James are exploring the idea of hosting rewilding stays for guests in North Devon and the North Cotswolds from Spring 2021 onwards. Get in touch for more details. In the meantime, people eager to sleep in a ger and to reminisce about past travels and plan future ones can stay at the AirBnB that was once the PJ UK HQ. We anticipate that you will be permitted to come to stay in a ger in the UK before it is possible to travel to Mongolia - so keep it in mind when you are planning your post lockdown escape.
MONGOLIA – Road Trip
Mongolia’s first lockdown started in January 2020. Nearly a year later and they haven’t had any COVID fatalities. The economy is of course deeply affected, but the Mongolian people have had freedom to roam their vast and splendid land for much of this year. In June three car loads of our team set off on an epic 3000km explore of their own country. Daajaa who is one of our Mandala team proudly showed her colleagues Mt Huiten that she has climbed and shared her skills and expertise with many who had never been on serious treks before. Zukar who is seen here in front of Potanin Glacier invited all the team to spend time with her 95-year-old Grandmother. The Mongolians were humbled by the way in which their Kazakh hosts treated them as honoured guests offering up sheep’s heads and other local delicacies. The joy of their friendship and freedom emanated through the whatsapp messages that they sent through to the PJUK team.
BHUTAN – Phobjikha Ranch
We have longed to be able to offer riding in Bhutan. Our friends and colleagues set up a ranch in Bumthang some time ago, but it wasn’t until this COVID year that they decided to move the horses to Phobjikha where we are pleased to say they have found some really stunning horse treks that we can now include within your journeys.
Karina has been quite obsessed with scaling up climate action. With this in mind, she has given a number of copies of the important Drawdown book to film Producers to spark them into making more climate related films. We can’t announce details of the project yet, but we are pleased to be working on one very promising project that can be attributed partly or fully to Karina being quite so persistent!
Going forward we hope to be able to share details of other climate related collaborations that Panoramic Journeys are involved in. In the New Year, PJ will be launching a series of net zero iniatives. We are proud to be a part of Tourism Declares Climate Emergency. You can read more about our response plan here.