Adventure Alternative

Going Global with Sustainable Tourism

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Jonathan Schultz

Jonathan Schultz


Fairleigh Dickinson University Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies

Fairleigh Dickinson University Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies


Aixa Ritz

Aixa Ritz

Global Goals

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

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Adventure Alternative is an independent travel company that promotes sustainable tourism by empowering local communities to manage the supply chain and share in an equitable part of the operation. The company's business model creates locally owned, independent satellite companies in popular travel destinations, such as Kenya and Nepal. Profits are reinvested in job training and business development that help to sustain local communities.


Adventure Alternative's innovative business plan creates sustainable communities and a unique tourism experience by creating independent, locally run satellite companies in popular trip destinations around the world. Profits are reinvested in job training and development with the goal of setting up long-term careers in tourism occupations such as guides, cooks, drivers, porters, etc. The goal of this business model is to enable local tourism operators to be competitive with international companies.

Adventure Alternative provides the necessary assets for start up companies to succeed, offering financial and supportive resources during challenging times. In return, satellite companies are required to comply with proper living wages and employment contracts for local people. Additionally, the satellite companies must support the Moving Mountains organization, the Adventure Alternative's charitable arm.

Going Global with Sustainable Tourism


Company founder, Gavin Bates, was inspired to create Adventure Alternative after 11 years traveling the globe, primarily from experiences in East Africa and Nepal. While traveling, Gavin worked with organizations that supported street children, delivered humanitarian aid to refugee areas, and helped in schools and clinics. He says witnessing the daily struggles and challenges of these impoverished people got him thinking about how he could help these communities make life better for future generations.

During the interview, Bates shared an example of how his company changed lives in the slums of Nairobi, where he once worked as a teacher. His mission then was to help educate children with the goal of lifting the next generation out of poverty. He says that experience led to the establishment of Moving Mountains, the charitable arm of Adventure Alternatives, with the goal of empowering communities to "become the architects of their own success." Today, multiple children from that class he taught two decades ago run Kenya's Adventure Alternative office.

Overall impact

Led by the vision of Gavin Bates, Adventure Alternative focuses on long-term development of sustainable tourism by concentrating on future generations. Satellite companies set up a system for local people to have long-term career options with proper salaries and support to grow within the organization. This leads to a better quality of life for locals and their children by helping them out of poverty.

Adventure Alternative affects individuals, communities, and businesses. Their business model provides an opportunity for social development by providing education and job opportunities. Local communities benefit as the quality of life improves from opportunities for permanent employment and proper salaries. Local businesses also benefit, as Adventure Alternative actively promotes sustainable tourism with their clients and supports local over multinational corporations.

Adventure Alternative is a two-time winner of the World Responsible Travel Awards, first in 2009 for ‘Best Personal Contribution’ and again in 2014 for ‘Best for Poverty Reduction’. They have won the Association of Independent Tour Operators Roger Diski Community prize two years in a row and also are the founding members of Fair Trade Volunteering and the Tourism Concern Volunteering Group.

Business benefit

Adventure Alternative enables local tourism operators to be competitive with international companies, creating a better quality of life for employees and their communities, and a unique travel experience for clients.

Adventure Alternative's network of satellite travel companies support one another, improving the development of the overall supply chain. The company's policy of reinvesting profits in the training of local operators at all levels of the supply chain, enhances the quality of service for the tourist. This is a huge selling point not only for local governments, but for forward thinking consumers.

Adventure Alternative business model also benefits by having proper cultural representatives in leadership positions. The nature of each satellite company is different country to country, based on its culture. Gavin Bates explains that having a local community partner and leader represent the satellite companies allows Adventure Alternative to respect proper business practices.

Additionally, the demographic of consumers who go on Adventure Alternative trips puts a big focus on sustainable tourism. These travelers are interested in supporting local businesses and culture and tend to spend their money in local economies.

Social and environmental benefit

Adventure Alternative and its independent satellite companies promote the sustainability of diverse communities, while respecting their culture and the environment. Founder, Gavin Bates, structures business decisions to fit with the local culture's regulations and norms. All employees along the supply chain are paid fairly and equitably, respecting local employment laws. This benefits not only employees, but helps sustain the entire community.

The company also allows regional leaders to plan sustainability trips supporting local eco-tourism.


Gavin Bates, Founder, Company Director, Expedition and Mountain Leader

Photo of interviewee

Business information

Adventure Alternative

Adventure Alternative

Portstewart, Northern Ireland, UK
Year Founded: 2001
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Adventure Alternative is an independent travel company founded by Gavin Bates, located in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. The vision of this company revolves around responsible travel, sustainable tourism, and a high level of knowledge and experience pertaining to the industry. Founded in 1991, Adventure Alternative became a limited for-profit company in 2001 with a strong commitment towards a sustainable tourism model that delivers positive economic benefits to local communities and businesses. Working alongside Adventure Alternative is another organization, Moving Mountains, a charity based in East Africa and Nepal focusing on social, economic, and environmental problems. Adventure Alternative sponsors Moving Mountains and together they aim to eliminate poverty and inequality while promoting the search for sustainability and fair trade. By providing administrative costs, transportation, and staffing, Adventure Alternative and Moving Mountains sponsor a successful and collaborative model of development. The affiliated organizations believe in the power of investment in social capital and social enterprise to provide long-term incomes and improved self-esteems for local populations.