This month the REMOTE team connected with Ecuador to talk to a true believer in the power of travel to transform hearts and minds: “When the time is right and the client is ready, magic can happen,” shares REMOTER Jasci who’s celebrating the company’s 25 years in business by exporting the Tropic way of developing travels from Ecuador to Latin American sister destinations Peru and Chile.
1) Tropic claims to be a guardian of the authentic South America. What does a guardian do to better contribute to the region?
We learned that the most effective way to guard a region is to develop a wider network. More than guardians, today we feel we’re a bridge. The true guardians are the communities who present and showcase this beautiful country. To build that network, as Local Experts, we have to understand how the local communities want to develop the tourism. We facilitate understanding and co-creation of how to best protect their land, keep culture alive and share it with other people from around the world.
2) Why do you think the best way to satisfy the demands of sophisticated travelers is by offering simplicity?
Simplicity is the highest degree of sophistication, as the philosophers would say. But it’s still very complex to reach that level of sophistication.
But regarding travel experiences, for me, the simple life that our partners lead is my inspiration. These days, someone asked me what my super power was and what came to mind is that I’m pretty good at understanding people.
On the one hand, we deal with highly-sophisticated and well-traveled clients. On the other, we deal with the community’s expectations and hopes. The secret of this combination is to eliminate illusory layers of protection for both sides and to connect them.
We encourage communities to show their reality. Don’t try to showcase something if it’s not true.
As a facilitator, I try to identify what’s missing in that community to tell the story right. I ask: what embarrasses you? Is it a wall that’s not painted right? Then let’s take care of that.
Is the storytelling not clear enough? We’ll help you with that.
On the other hand, with the client, we challenge them to climb a higher mountain, to experience something outside the box, because we know that this is what will generate the true impact in the quality of the trip. We try to explain that, at the end of the day, though it depends on the players, it’s really up to the client to absorb it and to own the trip, because it’s theirs.
3) In its 25 years of operations, Tropic has won a few sustainability prizes like the National Geographic World Legacy Travel Award and the Travel One Sustainability Award for its water project. In a nut shell, what were the lessons you learned, that can be shared with our community?
The more I work, the luckier I get – it’s a true saying. We have been always making efforts to engage with things that have a greater effect. In terms of learnings, I guess the aim for any sustainability project should be to have a long life. If an initiative is born linked to a marketing strategy, the effect is short. For your project to have a long life, the first tip is to check if you as a company are welcome and invited to co-create or support a local project. Second, ask what’s expected of you. Third, be brave enough to know when it’s time to leave. At some point, the community has to make a decision whether or not to go further. It will be a shared legacy, but the community has to own it in practice. Whether it’s a conservation project for a specific area or the preservation of a culture, the community has to be part of it, so that it gets strong enough to gain representation in the eyes of the local society and government.
4) Even before the pandemic, Tropic was promoting contentment and regaining emotional balance by forming bonds with the destination and the local people. How do you see that same appeal taking place in the era of the “new normal”?
Even before the pandemic, we were focusing on offering people the opportunity to experience equilibrium, because we’ve always believed that the constant quest for balance is the real sustainability. We have so many natural spaces and isolated spots, it became even more clear to us that South America is a playground for anyone looking to disconnect. These ecosystems facilitate spiritual and physical vibes.
Experiences off the beaten path like participating in cooking classes with native locals is something that creates instant engagement and has the power to transform people through interculturality. This is pretty clear to us. In terms of the “new normal,” being present in the moment is the key element for this small transformation.
5) Tropic has been stating the sense of urgency in actively contributing to the greater good. What do you think should guide the new responsible traveler?
For me, the new mindset is to participate in the experience rather than to be served. You, the traveler, are the one who’s living it. Travelers have to own their experiences.
People should feel excited and humble about the fact that they are free to go back out, to travel again. The post-Covid traveler should acknowledge how lucky we are to be able to travel. Celebrate the new encounters they will have– this simple fact has to be appreciated. Once you start there, you begin by feeling grateful and when you’re grateful, that’s when the right flow happens. In Spanish, we have a saying: “El pueblo no tiene memoria,” but we must not forget the learnings from the pandemic.
6) Breaking news for our REMOTE community: Tropic is expanding operations to Peru and Chile. Where did this inspiration come from and why have you decided to expand?
The ‘why’ is really how it started. With the pandemic, we noticed that our economies were deeply affected. In the coming years, our countries and governments will have so many micro problems, and we saw an opportunity to cure those open wounds by bringing positive impact through our tourism. Using our know-how in connecting and facilitating – everything we learned we want to expand to other destinations. We want to bring the Tropic model of developing destinations to these new countries.
The ‘how’ is by collaborating with great partners that we already had in other countries.
Last year, after personally experiencing the summer solstice in Machu Pichu I had the impulse to go ahead with this idea which was already incubated.
Serving as a bridge between the past and the present in the Andes, the Sacred Valley in Chilean Patagonia, we’re building hands-on so that local partners can start doing things the Tropic way.
When it makes sense, it gives people a lot of drive and we’re truly excited to share this news with the REMOTE community too.