Travel Good; A Campaign for Responsible Cultural Tourism in Southeast Asian Cities

Travel Good

Travel is about connecting with a place, its people and its culture. But how to do that in a way that is responsible and respectful to the communities we visit? Cathay Pacific wanted to put their #lifewelltravelled ethos to good use and support the work of a local NGO trying to make a difference in the tourism industry. That NGO was iDiscover.

They liked how our travel app and walking maps show "the other side" of town, but more than that they like how we work with locals to create real “off the beaten track” travel experiences that give back to communities and work towards preserving local heritage and culture.

Together with the amazing Ben and Tayla from Two Humans Travel they invited us to revisit some of our favourite destinations to show how iDiscover has conscious travellers in mind when we design the itineraries. How do we make sure that you can travel more responsibly and enjoy a more authentic experience?

‘Travel Good’ is all about travelling responsibly, consciously and with heart. Because, while the world is a big place, its places and people are not forever – so we’ve got to do our bit to look after it.
— Kasey Yim, Cathay Pacific

The Travel Good campaign

iDiscover was the winner of the 2014 Cathay Pacific Shooting Star Award, an annual award to recognise innovative and socially responsible entrepreneurship in Hong Kong. The iDiscover team was praised for our dedication to heritage preservation in Asia: “They truly care about urban heritage and embrace this notion in all their activities." said the jury report. They also liked how we experiment with digital applications to reach out to a younger audience.

Some years later, Cathay Pacific reached out, they wanted to connect with their clients about responsible travel in the region. They teamed us up with two veteran travellers, the Two Humans Travel Team from Australia to explore some old destinations with new eyes. These two legends, Ben and Tayla were practically born with passports in their hand and know a thing or two about responsible travel. They were ready to go wherever the iDiscover App would take them and get a peek behind the scenes of how the iDiscover team creates their citywalks.

As soon as we could get a hand on a passport we travelled. A long time ago we decided we wanted to travel differently. We wanted our money to go back to the communities we were visiting.
— Ben & Tayla, Two Humans Travel

So we travelled together. The Cathay Pacific crew flew us to some amazing destinations to find out what responsible travel is all about and how we can curate travel experiences that are good for the planet and for people. Together we travelled to Hong Kong, Yangon, and Bali, creating a backpack full of memories. We did laughing yoga in a small Balinese village, had a haircut in Hong Kong and watched the sunset over the Yangon River. We learned how to say a prayer in Burmese, where to buy the best nasi lemak at the market and found out that Myanmar has the best rice whiskey. But more than anything it taught us a lot about life, not to take anything too seriously and that a little empathy goes a long way.

The iDiscover app doesn’t involve following a leader named Dave or uncompromising schedules – you just get to read, wander, and make as many pork bun pit stops as you feel necessary.
— Tayla, Two Humans Travel

What the Two Humans loved and what the iDiscover App is all about is finding an honest and authentic everyday experience in a new city. Travel is not about the touristy highlights, but about getting lost in little laneways and lining up at the busiest stall at the market without even knowing what's on the menu...

How to Travel Good with iDiscover?

But how do we do it? How do we make sure that iDiscover makes for an authentic travel experience? We gave Ben and Tayla a peak behind the scenes to show them what the iDiscover philosophy boils down to and how we try to make a difference in the travel industry.

All iDiscover walking routes are built on five key pillars, so you can explore:

1. Through the Lens of Locals

The iDiscover neighbourhood guides and maps are created in collaboration with a local community partner who shares the passion for promoting local culture: local resident groups, heritage enthusiasts, conservation groups, artists, universities, social workers, local government and more. They call the place home and are proud to share their history and culture. No travel writers or tour guides, local residents handpick the sites that truly showcase the spirit of their neighbourhood. More than just buildings, the routes feature food, festivals, shops and traditional businesses. We highlight popular local food spots, little-known family stores that have passed down through generations and neighbourhood tea shops that don’t bear a name.


2. Away From the Crowds

The maps and self-guided walking itineraries are available 100% online, making iDiscover a go-to digital guide for hidden gems, popular local hotspots, and surprising sites. We design for people that are not the package tour kinda of traveller, more the hit the back alleys and get a little lost type. Our routes and guides are easily accessible on a phone with insider tips available on-the-move at the traveller’s fingertips. We share local stories with compelling videos, beautiful photography and interactive GPS-based maps to make sure content comes to the travellers when they’re actually on the street, so they don't look like a tourist and can explore like a real local.


3. With Cultural Confidence

Cultural travellers want to experience Asian cities the same way the locals do; whether it’s eating rice noodles in a street stall or visiting a local market. They also want to know what they're looking at. iDiscover unlocks community intelligence into walking itineraries for the most curious of travellers. We’re not the plain vanilla type but offer urban experiences that are highly personal, full of flavour and speckled with colourful anecdotes and stories. Our routes are available in English and in the local language, so you can communicate with cultural confidence.


4. While Supporting the Community

For travel to be more sustainable, we need to avoid the operators and middle man. We need to make sure every dollar is well spent and supports local businesses every step of the way. A personalised guide to a neighbourhood, iDiscover connects visitors with urban communities and encourages them to spend like a local. We bring explorers to lesser-known sites and family-run businesses, we also suggest what to buy or to order. This way we drive traffic to the shops that have been there for generations, so they can survive for yet another generation. This way travellers can give back and help locals to keep their heritage alive.


5. & Learn Something on the Way

The iDiscover guides allow travellers to become a part of a community, as opposed to just being a spectator. Making meaningful connections and engaging with local communities is also a humbling opportunity to learn from the people whose country you’re visiting. Seeing a city through the lens of a local, listening to their stories and learning what they love can be frightening and invigorating at the same time. We believe travel is not about ticking off the tourist highlights and remembering the historical facts, it's about embracing the unexpected. It's about having a laugh in a different language and knowing what the locals have for breakfast. We hope visitors walk away with a little bit of empathy and respect for cultural traditions. Maybe an unexpected encounter contributes to intercultural tolerance or it may lead to a life-long love for spicy pork noodles.


Travel Good in Hong Kong

Travel Good in Yangon

Travel Good in Bali

About the Campaign

The "Travel Good" campaign is a joint initiative by Two Humans Travel, iDiscover and Cathay Pacific because we care about travel. Part of Cathay Pacific's #LifeWellTravelled initiative, this campaign is all about travelling responsibly, consciously and with heart. Because, while the world is a big place, its places and people are not forever – so we’ve got to do our bit to look after it.

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