Applied Cultural Anthropology Private-Sector Companies Sustainability and Environment

Liz Cross, Geopassage Specialty Travel

The past semester, I have been interning at GeoPassage Specialty Travel. My job has consisted of working as a tour research intern. Through this process, I was provided with the opportunity to gain a general awareness on the industry of travel. In addition, I learned about the complex field of anthropology in tourism.

GeoPassage hired six interns. Each intern had an intern partner. My partner and I were both hired as tour research interns. Our job primarily consisted of conducting research and uploading tour packages onto GeoPassage’s internal website system. The first step was to do intense web research on GeoPassage’s tour supplier’s websites. Our goal was to locate unique tour packages which attract the interest of a wider public. Each package needed to be reasonably priced, typically between $ 1,200 to 3,000. Equally important was to have numerous travel dates. These packages attracted diverse customers. If these criteria were met, then we could begin uploading the package or packages onto GeoPassage’s website.

GeoPassage is working to expand business opportunities. Their goal was to upload 200 new packages while the interns worked at GeoPassage. During my internship, I uploaded 20 packages into the internal system. I concentrated on travel themes in education, ecotourism, family, and outdoor activities and sports. These themes were individually assigned to me. For instance, my partner worked on culinary and wine tours, While the other interns uploaded tours on culture and history.

GeoPassage uniquely offers day-to-day itineraries. If an itinerary doesn’t provide a daily schedule, then it is my responsibility to create a description of possible activities travelers can enjoy. In honeymoon packages, the couple probably wants a lot of free time. Thus, I needed to write a short description of available activities.

GeoPassage encouraged their interns to work on individual side-projects. This helped us expand our knowledge of the travel industry. My side project was constructing a travel package to Cloudcroft, New Mexico. To complete this task, I needed to understand all that was available in Cloudcroft, such as lodging, dinning, outdoors, education, arts, museums, and spas available to tourist. In doing so, I first conducted intense web research on Cloudcroft. Second, I contacted the chamber of commerce through email and phone. They helped me by putting together a package of tourist information. I received a newspaper, a Cloudcroft visitor’s guide, a schedule of yearly events, and a bunch of pamphlets from hiking trails to Cloudcroft points of interest. Third, I created a Cloudcroft website for my editing class.

The next step was to form daily activities for tourist in summer, spring, and winter. This was subjective to what I would do if I were traveling to Cloudcroft. However, due to the lack of time, I could not complete the task before the end of the semester. I plan to continue my internship and hope to have the package completed by the end of the summer.

There are many opportunities for anthropologists in the tourism industry. Anthropological interpretations benefit the travel company and provide a new theoretical concept on travel. Anthropologists look for the underlying meaning of travel. They ask, “What is really going on here.” Moreover, they use their applied methodologies to resolve tourism issues which help better the impacts of tourism. Anthropologists can address these issues and come to an economic solution for both the host and guest. They formulate profitable attractions that benefit the host. In addition, they can create jobs that benefit the host group as tourist travelers’ guides.

It is important for travel destinations to be sustainable. Anthropologists can study these travel destinations and develop plans to help communities benefit from tourism. Through fieldwork, anthropologists can provide resolutions to conflicting issues in economic development and conservation. For instance, in Cloudcroft the main attraction is the outdoors. Sustainability must be known to avoid destruction of the Lincoln National Park, which surrounds Cloudcroft.

Equally important is making sure the tourism income is profiting the whole community and not just a small number of elites. This is a major issue in anthropological studies on ecotourism. With an increasing popularity for eco-travel, the traveler’s experience can affect the surrounding natural habitats. For example, ecotourism has conflicting outcomes on the rainforests and the surrounding communities. On the positive side, eco-tourists can provide solutions for economics and rainforest conservation. Rainforests are situated in some of the poorest countries which are also known to have some of the fastest growing populations. In rainforest countries, an issue with population growth is the expansion out of urban areas into rainforests. This is partly a result of population pressures and needed income gained through commercial logging, agriculture, and cattle ranching. These activities are some of the primary causes of deforestation, a procedure that accelerates global warming.

However, a possible solution is for local residents to gain income from tourists instead of deforestation. Thus, the necessity for conserving the rainforests and its diversity becomes a concern to continue economic input. But this is possible only through a sustainable amount of visitors. If there is an overwhelming number of visitors, then the rainforest is at risk of destruction. One threat could be the clearing of forestry for infrastructures to accommodate travelers; or, an increase amount of trash and water waste polluting the area.

About the author

The Internship Coordinator

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