Journeys Within of Siem Reap Recognized as a World Leader in Social Responsibility

Journeys Within, a ’boutique Southeast Asia tour company,’ has been recognized with a 2008 World Savers Award from the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler magazine as one of the world’s top six travel companies for leadership in social responsibility:

As explained by Conde Nast editor-in-chief, Klara Glowczewska:

“The Conde Nast Traveler World Savers Awards recognize companies that are stepping up to the challenge of improving our world. This year’s finalists are setting standards in social responsibility in ways that we hope will become models for the entire travel industry.”

Journeys Within received their award in the ‘health’ category for having “added more than 180 wells to the landscape around Siem Reap, helping nearly 4,000 Cambodians to escape water-related disease.”

The award winners, runner-ups and honorable mentions were decided by an international 17-judge panel including “academics, activists, CEOs, and philanthropists.” This year’s six winners came from a record crop of 142 applicants.

Journeys Within specializes in tours to Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam out of their head office in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The owners’ story is not unlike many travelers to Cambodia (your’s truly raises his hand) who are quickly touched by the wonderful and indomitable spirit of the Cambodian people and who then get the irresistible urge to give something back:

“Within a few weeks of starting our business in Cambodia we knew there had to be more to living here than just Journeys Within Tour Company and B&B.

We wanted to be, we felt we had to be, involved in our local community and it came as no surprise to us when our guests started asking what they could do, how could they make a difference in the people’s lives. We even received e-mails from strangers, now friends, in the USA who had heard about us and having visited Cambodia years ago wanted to fulfill a promise to themselves that they would do something for the country.”

The company began a few small projects which grew and grew, to the extent that the founders, Andrea and Brandon Ross, established an official US-based non-profit arm of the company. In addition to the water wells, the non-profit is also active in a wide range of community support activities from university scholarships, various types of educational programs, dental health, orphanages and micro-finance.

This award is a great recognition for a company doing some wonderful work.

(Full disclosure: I am not in any way associated with Journeys Within. I did contact them a month ago as I was planning my September trip to Siem Reap because I was very impressed by and interested in the work they are doing. As a tourist I wanted to participate in some of the projects they sponsor and as a management consultant I am very interested in corporate social responsibility as a fundamental part of a company’s business model. So when I saw this bit of news yesterday I felt it was more than appropriate to include it on this blog.)

(If you are planning a trip to Angkor Wat please check out Savuth’s tuk tuk transportation services at Angkortuktuk.org)

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~ by Leonard on August 23, 2008.

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