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Established in 2018, Social Travelers S.A.S is a Colombian social tourism company with four years in the market. This agency provides advice, organization, and commercialization of sustainable tourism trips. In this way, Social Travelers organizes trips recognizing the natural wealth and ecosystems, ensuring responsible tourism. The tours highlight and prioritize the protection of the heritage of diverse cultures and communities in Colombia. In addition, Social Travelers is responsible for carrying out programs and projects where environmental sustainability is paramount while helping several Colombian regions’ economic and cultural development. Social Travelers seeks that Colombia remains in the hearts of tourists, knowing nature and living the Colombian culture. Social Travelers is currently a PROCOLOMBIA company, it belongs to the Tourism Product and Innovation Club, certified by the Inter-American Development Bank-IDB as a company that generates value in innovation, and by the Externado de Colombia University in Corporate Social Responsibility.
Colombia suffers from critical environmental issues; for instance, on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, it is estimated that there are around 8,000 microplastics per liter of water, which means that the risk of pollution by society in the ecosystem of the territory will continue to increase substantially. Social Travelers seeks to mitigate this situation, executing tourism projects where it also encourages waste collection and environmental awareness among tourists through the creation of alliances with associations and companies, which guide their development towards the preservation of the environment. A clear example of this was the campaign that Social Travelers created together with Ocean Lovers, a local organization, where they were able to work together towards the conservation of the coasts, especially in Taganga, Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast, and in turn, sought to encourage the reuse of such waste, for the construction of different objects.
Precisely, this was how this company considered it pertinent to create an alliance with the ICESI University in Cali - Colombia, with which the project called Quimbombó in the Pacific was developed as a cultural experience that would positively transform the territorial reality by generating synergies between locals and visitors. This experience is projected as a physical space where tourists, through the typical musical instruments of the Pacific region, such as marimba and drums, can interact with them rhythmically and live the joy of the Afro culture, accompanied by a tasting of locally fermented Viche – a sugar cane-based artisanal liquor – and typical local gastronomy.
The tourism projects promoted by Social Travelers are characterized by encouragement in the communities where it operates: the generation of formal employment, the reactivation of commerce, the improvement of the security of the communities under the central purpose of creating an organic ecosystem and the generation of more opportunities for the development of small and medium enterprises and access to technology.
The creator and founder of this business idea is Alexander Medina. Throughout his life, he was characterized by having a social vocation and a high interest in contributing in a participatory way to social projects primarily related to human rights. In his words: “Sustainable tourism is one of the ways to boost the most vulnerable regions of Colombia” Alexander Medina. This highlights the essence of the business: offering a different perspective of tourism, which he promotes through his tourism plans, where the importance of knowing the cultural realities and the sense of belonging is critical.
In addition to this, Colombia has always been characterized by its rich cultural diversity reflected by the multiplicity of cultural expressions of each of the communities and ethnic groups, which represent 13.77% of the total national population, which has led Social Travelers to “... foster and promote this Colombian cultural wealth, potentiating and accompanying the intellectual development of these communities.” – Alexander Medina
Social Travelers’ primary purpose is to transform territorial realities. Two reasons drive their efforts: to generate synergy between travelers and communities through actions that positively impact the region according to its context and day-to-day problems, improving the situation of vulnerability of people, and from its corporate social vision to contribute financially to proposals that promote sustainable tourism. In some way, Social Travelers has sought to generate that level of environmental and cultural awareness through the tourism plans offered to its clients, achieving an articulation with the following Sustainable Development Goals:
SDG 8. Social Travelers employs local people where the tours are offered, taking advantage of their ancestral knowledge of their respective regions.
SDG11. Since Social Travelers seeks to preserve and share Colombian culture in the country's different regions where it offers its immersive tours with local communities.
SDG12. Social Travelers encourages responsible consumption and the importance of preserving the environment in its tours.
SDGs 6 and 15. Social Travelers seeks to educate tourists in the care and preservation of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
Social Travelers, throughout its history has had the opportunity to develop its business model in such a way that it can present gradual advances in its performance and in the service it offers; that is why since 2019, the company has been able to advance in terms of the wide variety of tourist places in Colombia that it offers its customers, among which are: Norcasia-Caldas, Eje Cafetero, the Amazon and of course, Santa Marta. The above allowed it to cover a considerable part of the national territories, thus achieving an extensive and attractive service portfolio for those interested in visiting any of these places. Also, due to the increase in the destinations offered, travel reservations have increased accordingly, especially concerning Santa Marta and its surroundings.
Social Travelers has always been characterized as a pioneer in social responsibility, seeking to generate social and environmental changes throughout the Colombian territory. This is done through socialization activities with the indigenous communities with which it has established dialogue, such as Ette Ennaka, a community located in Magdalena and Cesar that represents 0.12% of the indigenous population of Colombia, and of which the majority are elders and community leaders.
It has also carried out projects with associations and companies, which aim to mitigate the environmental risk on coastal beaches, such as Ocean Lovers, managing to collect around 1 ton of plastic waste thrown in these places, especially in Taganga - Santa Marta. It also works with transport providers, such as Grupo Empresarial JHS, which are also identified by orienting their management towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), creating an alliance focused on transmitting sustainable and environmental awareness to customers who book tourist plans with Social Travelers.
Social Travelers is also a pioneer in generating employment in the communities where it operates, especially for young people. Social Travelers even created an alliance with Tarjeta Joven Colombia, seeking to promote and attract their potential and thus contribute to their intellectual development. Additionally, Social Travelers is promoting the Pacífico Inteligente project, which seeks on the one hand, to promote local natural and cultural attractions and, on the other, to promote economic development and the generation of formal employment and also the generation of more opportunities for companies in Buenaventura, a region of the Colombian Pacific.
Alexander Medina Lugo, CEO & FOUNDER
Social Travelers S.A.S is a Colombian social tourism company that has always been concerned with transforming territorial realities, seeking to connect travelers through unique and memorable life experiences in each natural destination, achieving a high proximity to various cultures, gastronomy and lifestyles. In addition, it seeks to generate social and environmental awareness through its tourist plans.