This experience has benefited conservation programs for Koalas for the past five years sending over 10,000 guests from cruise ships visiting Melbourne.
'In 2016, the experience took on a new dimension when Echidna Walkabout packaged a special book to accompany the tours,' he explained.
‘It is a compelling and positive tale about Clancy’s bush home and how Koalas can be cared for and conserved. Each donation goes directly to the not-for-profit Koala Clancy Foundation to be used to protect and conserve koalas in the wild and ensure their future.’
Vass added, ‘we are delighted to have won the Seatrade Innovative Shorex Award for the second time in six years: our first was for India and now for Australia, and both programs focused on our philanthropic endeavors.
‘With the amount of third-party tour operators flooding the shorex market, the authentic experience that can only be offered by a quality operator that reinvests in the regions they service becomes even more important,’ noted Vass.
‘Not only do these programs give back to the local communities, but they also allow passengers a chance to help change the area they are visiting for the better, and have insider access experiences that web-portal only operators simply can’t offer.
‘I’ve just finished up meetings with many of our cruise clients in Germany and the UK, and realized a lot of our clients are unaware of the size and scope of our philanthropic division, which is headed up by Keith Sproule, our executive director, and with a full-time team of nine staff and coordinators.
Two recent projects involve clean water and mentoring women in local communities for start-up bicycle repair and tour shops, explained Vass.
The ‘Life Straw’ filter about the size of a beer keg, each one is capable of taking raw water from rivers and streams and sanitize 100,000 litres to safe drinking water. We are dropping these off to schools and orphanages around the countries we service to great success.
‘We are also collecting used bikes in the US and shipping them to communities where the shipping containers become a “pop-up” shop and the local women are taught how to repair the bikes and then use them for bike tours, an excellent enterprise and empowerment program.’
As a company A&K has been at the forefront of philanthropic-related land programs since 1962. ‘A percentage of all the revenue we make as the Abercrombie & Kent Group of Companies goes towards these endeavors,’ he remarked.
‘Cruise executives can look for me in early 2018 stopping by their offices, and instead of taking them out for a glass of wine, I’ll be bringing a Life Straw filter keg and we’ll have a delicious glass of water,! he quipped.