Q&A with Jared Sternberg
Three years after founding Gondwana Ecotours, company president Jared Sternberg sat down with Diane Daniel of the New York Times to discuss the company’s growth and mission. We’re thrilled to be featured in such a personal way by the New York Times. Read the full interview on their website, or in print on their December 18th issue.This interview was also published by the Houston Chronicle.
“He studied environmental and human rights with the idea of helping indigenous and underserved populations preserve land and resources, but after completing service work in locations including Ghana, Ecuador, Alaska and Nicaragua, Mr. Sternberg became convinced that tourism could achieve the same goals.”
Growing an Ecotourism Company
Post law school, an eye-opening volunteer stint in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest was the catalyst for Gondwana Ecotours. After working closely with the Achuar tribe, “…it just clicked, and I saw the power that tourism can have as a positive force, not only economically but emotionally.” When developing the tours, Jared Sternberg says, “I started with places I’d lived and volunteered, where I knew guides and lodges. We had four trips in 2014, with 24 people, and this year we ran 25 trips for more than 200 people.” Because of hard work and a clear mission statement, the company is thriving and continues to evolve.
From working with local communities to carbon-offsetting flights, Gondwana is committed to responsible travel. Air travel can create a lot of GHG emissions, so Jared came up with a solution: “One thing I do is pay carbon offsets for my guests’ flights. I hope next year to start offsetting the entire trip, from start to finish.” During trips, guests are encouraged to refill their Gondwana water bottles instead of using plastic bottles, and try to recycle when possible. By reflecting on how we impact the earth, we can decrease the carbon footprint of the company and our guests.
Donations & Nonprofits
Each tour works with local communities and nonprofits to help guests learn about grassroots efforts in the places they visit. “We also work with a lot of nonprofit groups and hope to start our own nonprofit foundation.” Beyond working with nonprofits, we also donate a percentage of each trip’s sales. Jared says, “So far I’ve donated about 10 percent of my profits. My goal isn’t to say a percentage, but to do what I think is right for a specific trip.”
The Road Ahead
“This year, Gondwana offered trips to six destinations on three continents.” With such tremendous growth, we’re excited to see what happens in the years to come. Having the New York Times promote Gondwana is a great step toward sharing what can be accomplished through ecotourism. As our environment grows increasingly damaged, it’s becoming more important to realize how our choices impact the world. Since sustainable travel is becoming more popular, we believe that the rest of the world is catching on too.