The World Nomads Podcast: A Time for Reflection

In this episode, GLP Films celebrates the resiliency of the travel industry and positive tourism stories amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic.

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man standing on a car Photo © @glpfils. Rafael (Rafa) Gallo fighting to survive during COVID-19.

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The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel News

The World Nomads Travel Podcast has suspended its regular destination episodes, and in their place, sharing the thoughts of travelers who are shaping the future of the industry post-COVID 19. We tap into their vast bank of knowledge to discover what can be learned from the past as we plan a new way of traveling moving forward.

What’s in the episode

00:58 Phil's chasing a travel refund

01:50 US passport holders on the 'danger list'

03:59 The race to get home

06:16 #TourismStrong

08:30 Reaching out to people GLP Films has worked with

10:25 Rafa's story

12:59 Explaining the hashtag

16:21 The UN's Sustainable Development Goals

18:50 Rob's hope for the future

19:51 Next Episode

Quote from the episode

“…it was great just reconnecting with people that we worked with years ago. Some people have left, but honestly, the most innovative and most interesting people and businesses and organizations that we've worked with in tourism, are still there. They're still in the trenches, they're still doing their work.” -  Rob

Who is in the episode

Rob Holmes is an award-winning photographer, Rob has worked, studied, and traveled across 80+ countries. When he has time, Rob loves anything in the outdoors, trail running, woodworking, and anything media. Rob received a BA from Hobart College in Wildlife Management, along with an MBA from the University of Washington in International Business, Marketing, and Environmental Management.

man on a car
Photo credit: @glpfilms The team filming in Bolivia

Rob is also the Founder & Chief Strategist of GLP Films, the award-winning full-service content marketing agency that specializes in authentic storytelling and ROI-based distribution campaigns to support sustainable tourism. Since 2008, GLP’s work has spanned five continents and 40+ countries, creating 200+ films. GLP specializes in digital content strategy, award-winning authentic storytelling, brand strategy, stakeholder development, and media distribution campaigns.

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Resources & links

TourismStrong is an uplifting video series from GLP Films celebrating the resiliency of the travel industry through positive tourism stories amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The International Rafting Federation honors Rafael (Rafa) Gallo.

GLP invited the travel industry to submit their best short films that support the overall theme of sustainable tourism. The World Nomads video on The Sea Turtle Conservancy in Costa Rica was a winner

Americans can’t travel to Europe because of Covid-19. I’m glad.

The handful of countries still welcoming US tourists.

Learning how to be better travelers doesn’t happen overnight. We asked our staff, scholarship mentors, filmmakers, and affiliate partners to share their biggest travel regrets and faux pas.

Why Travel Will Bounce Back From COVID-19.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and World Nomads Travel Insurance Coverage.

Travel safety alerts.

You can get in touch with us by emailing [email protected].

Help us spread the word

We’d love it if you could please share #theworldnomadstravelpodcast with your twitter followers. You can also follow us at @nomads_podcast and join our Facebook Group.

If you liked this episode please head to Apple Podcasts and kindly leave us a rating, review, and of course, subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

We use the Rodecaster Proto record our episodes and interviews when in the studio, made possible with the kind support of Rode.

Kim: In this episode, GLP films celebrate the resiliency of the travel industry through positive tourism stories amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Kim: Hi it’s Kim and Phil with you sharing stories of resiliency and hope as the travel industry faces its biggest test but before we chat with Rob Holmes the founder of GLP Films, how’s the world looking from a travel perspective

Phil: Emirates has announced it will cover its passengers' medical expenses and quarantine costs if they catch COVID while traveling with them and it includes any fare type. They say they’ve done it to boost confidence in international travel.

But even as restrictions ease up in some places, Americans are still on the danger list. We will put a link in show notes to an article outlining the countries where it's still possible for US passport holders to visit. However, as that article says since the pandemic is ongoing, anything can change at any time.

We will also share an article written by an American who says she’s glad they have been blacklisted from the EU as it gives Americans “the chance to reflect on the meaning of global citizenship”.

Kim: Yep it’s a great opportunity for reflection and that is what GLP Films have done. They are a content marketing agency for the travel industry and during the lockdown, the team spent some time re-engaging with some of the companies and their people they had filmed in the past to see how they’ve been affected by the pandemic, including themselves.

Rob: Well, ironically, when the pandemic hit, our team, we were actually filming in Thailand in February. It was a big campaign, we were there for a couple of weeks. We were waiting to see, at that point in January, February, it was this virus coming out of China, we didn't know where it was coming from, we didn't know how big it was and if it was just going to be localized in Asia or not. But we waited to hear and ultimately our partners in Thailand and said, "Come on, keep coming." So we went and had no problems, we filmed in very remote locations over a two week period. And when we left Thailand after finishing our filming, there were 35 total cases in Thailand, 35 only. And we all went home and I remember flying through Korea and everyone had masks on and just going, "Wow, what's going on?"

And then ironically, we were filming in March in California, literally just before or the pandemic hit the United States. It was the second week of March, around March 10th, 11th, 12th, which was right when we got hit. And we were at a small luxury travel event in Southern California, was about 150 people. And I think looking back, we're in a little bubble and it hadn't rippled across society yet, but it was coming. And I remember flying out for that event to film and I'd never seen the cleanest planes in my life, it was like walking into a Windex bottle or any cleaning supply room. And so when going home, a little bit of normalcy for two or three days and then by Friday, was at a school event with my son and then that Friday, it was announced that school was canceled on Monday. So I was very focused on work but had a little bit of real-life filtered in with my kids and their school and then the lockdown happened that following Monday.

I think for us at GLP films, this has actually been a really nice time to look within. It's been a nice time to get back to our roots, which I think a lot of companies in the travel industry have been doing, for better or worse, or sometimes being forced to do that. But for us, I've actually enjoyed this time. It sounds crazy, but being at home, I think, as a company and as a team, it's forced us to refocus ourselves, pivoting, changing, obviously a lot of business, we were on record to have our best year ever in February. And obviously a lot of those new business opportunities were put on hold. Some of them are coming back, we're now in July and we're seeing some new movement, which is great, but it's slow because obviously getting out of this pandemic, it's not going to happen overnight, it's going to be a gradual process.

Kim: Well, I love what you've done under the hashtag tourism strong. So you've gone back to a number of the films that you made and got in touch with the co-founders of various businesses and they do vary. What prompted that because you're checking in with them and we'll share the link in show notes, but to see how the pandemic has affected them. So we know how it's affected you, but you're reaching out to those that have told their story to you before.

Rob: I think in March when the pandemic hit, I mean, it was a shock to all of us, suddenly everything stopped, travel stopped, business, at least person to person or face to face, stopped. And we just looked internally and said, "Guys, what can we do?" So that was really the first thing that we thought of is, what's the best thing that we can do? And I think in our heart and soul, there are two main things. One, obviously really good storytelling, but two, I think it's sort of, maybe it comes from my view on all this, but is just positivity and resiliency and adaptation and all the new buzz words that are in our vocabulary. Really, it was an opportunity for us to say, "How can we help the industry? What can we do?"

And literally it was just reaching out to a handful of folks that we've worked with and then quickly it was, "Okay, I've been on every film shoot we've done since 2008, we've got 12 years of working, over 150 film partners in 50 countries, let's go back, let's comb through." And it was an amazing process. I mean, we don't have, ironically, we don't have, I mean we do now, but we really didn't have a master checklist of all the people we've worked with. Because again, we've worked with a lot of people, we produced over 200 videos now, it's a big library. And so for me personally, it was great just reconnecting with people that we worked with years ago. Some people have left, but honestly, the most innovative and most interesting people and businesses and organizations that we've worked with in tourism, are still there. They're still in the trenches, they're still doing their work. And so I think, answering your question specifically, we wanted to give back and we thought the best way was to reach out to people that we have worked with.

And we did reach out and work with some new people too. But overall it was about relationships, it was about friends, our global network and people we admire and really checking in, seeing how they're doing. Definitely the struggles were a big part of each of these stories, but also, as I said earlier, also how they've been resilient and how they've adapted and changed their business. And going into each one of these individual stories, it's personal, they're all different, operators, nonprofits, destinations, travel companies, hotels, lodges, a real broad range. And that's what was really great on our end, is really showing a diverse mix of all the different experiences people are having during this crazy pandemic.

Kim: And the backstories too. One of the first videos, the first video and they are all around three minutes, but the first one that pops up is [Rafa Kelo 00:06:29] is it? Rafa Kelo?

Rob: Rafa Gallo.

Kim: Yeah, that's it, in Costa Rica. And he's not only battling the potential demise of his company, but he's battling with his health. He just remains so positive and resilient, I just wanted to reach out and hug him. It was a really touching conversation that you had with him. But yeah, it's those backstories of these people, that they're not only battling with their companies, the survival of their companies but the things that are going on within themselves and their families and the loss of their livelihood and the impact of that. Did you feel emotional after you'd spoken to people like Rafa?

Rob: I mean, I will say ironically, it was the first story that we did and I would agree with you. That was probably one of the more powerful ones. Rafa is someone who I've known for well over 15 years, he's a pioneer, he's a leader, he's an innovator. He was rafting rivers in Africa and Latin America, first descents, years ago. And his story's amazing like you said, he's battling health, crucial health limitations for himself personally. He's from Costa Rica. He's in Florida at the time when we did the interview. Literally just trying to schedule the interview was challenging because of him going in and out of the hospital. And obviously I wanted to be very respectful of his situation. But again, Rafa is someone I've known for a long time. I've seen him at major travel shows for, decades and he's just a great guy.

And I think if you do look at, obviously you look at the interview and the footage we had of him back in 2010, 10 years ago, obviously he's a different person physically, just because of his health. But again, you're right, these are personal and everyone has their own story and he was a great person to kick it off with. Yeah, it's definitely emotional, I know it was for him too, just to share his story. But it's inspirational and that's ultimately what we felt our job was, was to be uplifting, to share some stories of positivity of people who are struggling. And I think one of the best quotes I love with Rafa's story is he's a 35-year-old startup, he's been there, he's done that, he's built his company, he's built his brand, an iconic brand, but they've literally had to shut their doors and innovate and get back to why they started their company.

And I think that's one of the reasons why we've been very inspired, I've been very inspired just on these stories, is it gets back to the strongest people in the travel industry, the ones that are going to be around after all of this, are the innovators, are the pioneers, are the ones that are doing the work that they're doing in the travel industry because they love it. And I have my opinions on over-tourism and some of the challenges coming into the travel industry and happy to share them, but I really do believe that the ones that are going to come out of this and be stronger, smarter, swifter and better, are the ones that are in the travel industry for the reason of passion and love and wanting to just share their love for travel with others.

Kim: So explain the hashtag then, hashtag tourism strong.

Rob: For us, we wanted to have a hashtag that made sense, that was simple and that was about the travel industry and unifying. I grew up in the town of Boston. Boston three years ago now had one of the bombing situations and one of the hashtags that came out of it was Boston strong. And it's been one of those rallying cries for me personally, just from the town. I'm actually going to be running the Boston marathon. I was actually running it this year until it was canceled and so I'm going to run it next year. So I personally, that was the hashtag that I rallied around because obviously tourism is the industry that we're in. We're also a trade organization, focused on the industries, the supply chain, how can we help other travel companies and the broader travel industry.

So it really became just a brand, a hashtag, a name that just resonated with us internally and we thought it could provide value and be clear to people that when you saw the hashtag, you understood that these are going to be good stories that are going to rally us all together in a period as we could never have imagined.

Kim: Moving forward, are you anticipating your content and what you will capture, will it be different from what you were doing before March?

Rob: Ironically, the history of GLP films, our original name was actually, I don't know if you know this, but is Green Living Project. So our roots actually come from green sustainability, eco, however, you want to call it. And I do think, and I think early signs and what people are seeing and even my own personal experience here in the state of Maine in the Eastern US, the outdoors, health, wellness, conservation, nature, definitely going to have increased interest and focus. I think a lot of people going through the pandemic just on a personal level, it's not just connected us with family and loved ones and friends, so that unification, but it's also, I think, environmentally it's gotten us closer to the outdoors and just appreciating fresh air and nature.

And I know for myself, I've gotten to know the town that I've lived in for five years now, better in the past three months than the last five years. Ironically for us at GLP, we're sticking to the content that we've always been doing, sustainability, outdoors, adventure. I do see, yes, there will be some pivoting and slightly changing and tweaking a little more nature and outdoors, even though that's our bread and butter, we've won the number one adventure travel film three out of the last four years. So it's in our core, but more so and the exciting part that I see is just the real legitimate interest and importance that people are seeing in sustainability and sustainable tourism.

Kim: Well a few episodes ago, we spoke with Joanna who was the founder of or is the founder of a storytelling platform called Rooted and it's helping to shape the future of travel. And in that we discussed the UN sustainable development goals and their importance now, more than ever, have you reflected on those, those 17 goals?

Rob: Just over the years, we've covered a number of the SDGs. They're so important, they're the backbone of both the private sector and the public sector. I think for us, it's just going to be on an individual basis, if we're working with the private sector, working with the public sector. Like I said earlier, sustainability, isn't going anywhere and it's actually going to be much more important moving forward. I think that's clear across all channels, that it's just going to be almost a platform to work off of and the SDGs are a part of that. It's part of the rich fabric and obviously it depends on a certain project and what the goals and objectives are, but they're so diverse. I mean, they're touching on social issues, culture, heritage, waste, to emissions, climate. I mean, they cover a broad range of topics. I think it's going to be very exciting to really have those 17 principles that I look at, of doing business and functioning in society nowadays, I think it's just going to be great to see them get that much more attention.

Kim: Also, Rob, sitting back and watching what has happened to the world since March, we're now in July at the time that I'm chatting to you, have you been amazed at what's happened naturally, things like people in Western Africa, being able to see the Himalayas, the turtles coming back to the beaches in their millions, Venice, which has become the poster city for what can happen when the world slows down, the canals clear up, the dolphins return, the pollution that's lifted in South America. What's been a highlight for you?

Rob: I'm glad you bring up that point because it's actually been somewhat of a common theme that's been brought up, the resurgence of nature. It was brought up in particular, in another story we did in Costa Rica, just how bird species are migrating up from South America into Central America. Aquatic species, whales are migrating back to their original spawning areas. I mean, I majored in wildlife management in university, so wildlife and conservation are at my heart and soul. And I think it's wonderful, I think it's awesome and I really hope a number of people, if it's through video storytelling, through photos, through text, that a lot of these patterns of wildlife resurgence and nature coming back, I hope it's really recorded and used as case studies, as an example of, look, guys, look at how much environmental damage and degradation that we've done. That's a result of too many people traveling.

It's wonderful to see these situations and examples of nature coming back, wildlife coming back, bird species coming back and I really hope it's recorded and showcased and used to show governments, everyone, if we take care of our planet, it's going to thrive and it's going to be resilient in itself.

Kim: Well said Rob we will put a link to those wonderful videos in show notes.

Phil: We’d love to learn from you what type of stories you would like to hear us share – get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Kim: And don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and share from wherever you get your favorite pods. Next episode Chad Carey from Chimu Adventures talking about their Footsteps for Food fundraiser.

Bye

 

 

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