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Meet Tourism Cares’ New CEO: Paula Vlamings

Paula Vlamings recently joined Tourism Cares as chief executive officer.

Tourism Cares is celebrating 15 years of serving the global travel community in 2018, and Vlaming's appointment reflects the nonprofit's growth over the past several years.

With a rich background in successfully launching social impact initiatives in the travel industry, Vlamings will work with staff, the community and the board of directors to guide Tourism Cares through the next phase of its mission.

Could you share a bit about your career and background in social impact and the travel industry?

I've been working at the intersection of tourism, social enterprise and sustainability for more than a decade now. I was the former head of The Planeterra Foundation—the nonprofit foundation of the global travel company G Adventures. There I helped incubate social enterprises supporting women, youth and indigenous communities into the tourism supply chain. It was through this work that I saw the opportunity business can have in making a positive impact, and the importance of supporting local communities through the tourism economy.

What brought you to Tourism Cares?

I came on board with Tourism Cares for the wonderful opportunity to work with so many travel industry partners committed to making a difference. Tourism Cares not only unites the industry through our volunteering programs, but it also has the power to mobilize business to do good through its extensive member community. Business was once viewed as separate and distinct from the social sector—now, the two are linked. More companies are building business models around social good, which sets them apart from the competition and augments their success, so this organization's reach within the industry is very exciting.

Tourism Cares can help the industry integrate more closely with community-based organizations and conservation initiatives. When communities and destinations thrive, companies and travelers do as well.

What excites you about your new position as CEO of Tourism Cares?

I'm excited for our next global project, which we'll announce later this summer. Earlier this year, we brought 67 travel leaders together for Tourism Cares with Jordan, where we experienced firsthand how travel businesses can be a force for good. The program was powerful: We introduced travel industry leaders to the Jordan community, government officials, media and, most importantly, to the individuals whose lives will be changed not only by the visitors who spend money at their destination, but by the industry leaders who helped those visitors get there. Tourism Cares, as an industry nonprofit, has the power to create this community of changemakers.

How will we see Tourism Cares grow over the next few years?

We'll be expanding the industry's collective ability to be a conduit to help improve local communities and destinations and so our membership community will grow in size—and influence.

Tourism Cares will be actively convening around issues that matter to the travel industry through its membership. These conversations are going on individually at member companies, and Tourism Cares plans to create a collaborative space for business leaders who want to find ways to integrate purpose into their business models. Building on Tourism Cares' foundation of great work, our Global Program will grow to connect social enterprises to the tourism market and develop new innovative ways to scale that impact.

In what ways can the industry support Tourism Cares' efforts?

Join us! The more our travel tribe grows, the more we can combine our efforts to make a real difference. We are also expanding on our programs that help travel agents provide more meaningful options for their clients, helping companies deepen their CSR programs, and assisting with recovery efforts after natural disasters. By becoming a member or strategic partner, you are investing in our work and joining a coalition of the committed.

Another way is to join us for one of our upcoming volunteer programs: We are helping to restore coral reefs in the Florida Keys—only 3 percent remain in the region—for Tourism Cares for South Florida on May 10 and 11, along with other projects to support local communities impacted by the recent hurricanes as part of our disaster recovery campaign. Then, we celebrate 15 years at Tourism Cares for New Orleans, September 2 and 21, where we'll adopt a neighborhood that our volunteers will work on together: some projects will help ensure that NOLA's distinct arts and culture continue to thrive, revitalize a neighborhood and support environmental sustainability.

We invite anyone who wants to give back to these amazing destinations with this committed community of travel and tourism professionals to make a difference with us!

Courtesy of Groups Today.


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