Organized travel tourism has always existed, but it is increasingly true that with access to online "do-it-yourself" platforms and a plethora of information, users now have the ability to create and organize their own trips from the comfort of their own homes.
Therefore, what makes a person choose an organized trip is that there is something extra that stands out from the crowd.
It may be the business itself, it may be the mission that resides behind the brand, the people behind it, and so on.
In this regard, today we meet Erica and Marica, sisters and travel designers who together founded Etical, a project of organized tours with a sustainable outlook and especially with a focus on the social aspect of travel.
Hi Erica, can you tell us how the idea for Etical came about?
Of course! Etical was born in February 2020, just a moment before the global pandemic hit us all. On a trip to Myanmar, my sister and I become fascinated by the culture and traditions of a country that is still little known. In fact, in Burma, even the big cities seem to retain typical Southeast Asian traditions, and taking a trip to this nation takes you back in time. Visiting this country, the main thought that accompanied us was, "what a shame it would be to lose all these traditions!" From there begins our journey to try to figure out how we, in our own small way, can help make sure this does not happen. The answer is Etical.
Wow! Surely starting such a project from scratch must not have been easy. What are the biggest difficulties and obstacles you have encountered so far?
My first difficulty was to shape everything I had in mind and shared with Marica in our conversations. I decided to pursue a Master's degree in Destination Management and Experiential Tourism, which helped me design every little piece of this big project in detail.
All of this was happening during the first Covid wave, and even though I had clearer ideas than what Etical was supposed to be, the world of tourism seemed not only stuck, but also that it would never fully recover.
In addition, among the various obstacles was the fear that the costs I would face would be impossible to bear for someone who had just lost her job.
In all, two years had passed and hopes were dwindling, and then I decided that alone it would not be possible to carry all that load and that this was slowly bringing me to a halt. There Marica came in, who was aware of the whole project and had also contributed to its creation, but had remained on the sidelines until then. With her we decide that the time has come, but the last problem arises: where do we start? Apical with its Pilot Program was the spark that allowed us to start, to believe that it was something achievable, the expert support of all the guys helped us to have the courage to take risks... and that is why we will soon be online with a website and many exciting products.
How did you get in touch with Apical and what made you believe that the Pilot Program could help you get out of this initial "block"?
Following the Master's degree in tourism I decide to start working concretely on Etical, the definition of the idea, the Mission, the competitors, the partners, the financial and economic plan and then.... the thirst for curiosity and doubts about the feasibility push me to search on google for information to validate my idea, and here comes the meeting with Apical, which unlike the other incubators encompasses all the cardinal principles of Etical, which wants to represent a way to innovate tourism starting from traditions. Etical in order to be validated as an idea needs the support of Apical, the one who deals with sustainable tourism and digitization, so our path within the Pilot Program starts.
As you know, for the Apical community, the social, environmental or economic impact of travel is a very important aspect and underlies everything we do together. How do you think your project can generate a positive impact on the people and territories you will travel through?
Etical wants to give space to a different kind of traveler, to make the norm what now seems for a few. To the places we visit we will bring a different kind of tourism. A traveler who is sensitive to the environment and people, aware and present in the places he or she visits. A traveler who wants above all to discover the real life and traditions of the cultures he or she visits, who wants to open himself or herself to the knowledge of what is different without prejudice. With the Ethical Quota we want to contribute to the well-being of these populations by allowing them to continue doing what they do, without risking losing valuable traditions.
Etical wants to create a meaningful social impact. People at the center of the destinations.
As for the territory, among Etical's various projects, there is also an interest in breathing new life into our home region, Calabria. This destination is also rich in traditions and culture that we are in danger of losing over time. Calabria is unfortunately known only for negative aspects, while the tourism potential of this region is yet to be explored. For this reason we will create packages with special activities designed to explore all that Calabria has to offer.
In our introduction we were talking about what distinguishes a project from its "competitors" and makes people choose it. What do you think it is in your case?
Our trips are not meant to be typical voyages of discovery of countries and destinations but we want to make the traveler an active player in his or her journey. "People at the center of destinations": it means wanting to connect the traveler with locals, to make sure that after a trip with Etical, travelers come out enriched as human beings and thanks precisely to the contact with other human beings, seemingly distant and different from them but equal in substance.