The collapse of charity travel firm Student Adventures has provided a ‘wake up call’ for new standards in the voluntary tourism sector, a membership body has said.
GBCE Ltd, trading as Student Adventures, ceased trading on Wednesday leaving some students on trips in Tanzania and Peru while many others have had to abandon plans.
With charities due to lose out on fundraising and volunteers other student and charity travel providers have stepped in to offer services, including Rare Adventures, which is not connected to GBCE.
Rare Adventures said in a statement: “We were very disappointed to hear the news that Student Adventures have gone into administration. We sympathise with all the students unable to complete their trips, having gone to a great effort to raise funds for valuable causes while undertaking a challenge of a lifetime.
“As a tour provider that offers not-for-profit services to charities, we have offered our assistance to affected charities and student fundraising organisations to ensure that all of the participants currently on events are securely returned to the UK and we are working with industry bodies to help confirm the validity of their return flights.
“The cancellation of their events is a massive injustice and should not have been allowed to happen had the operator been following existing directives from the Civil Aviation Authority.”
The company has pushed for more regulation over charity event providers particularly in the areas of governance, responsibilities and competence.
Rare Adventures has been working with membership body Bond to develop a group of charities and responsible operators that can look to define standards in the voluntary sectors.
Greg Clark, Rare Adventure’s CEO said: “All specialist volunteering and fundraising event companies must have staff qualified to deliver trips abroad to international quality and safety standards. Tour providers have a duty to go beyond traditional travel marketing to clearly demonstrate to charities and fundraisers that they have the operational as well as charity and international development experience, to serve this flourishing and dynamic area of altruistic tourism. “
Michael Wright, membership and communications director at Bond added: “The closure of Student Adventures is a wake up call for the sector. We have been hearing concerns from our members about regulation of voluntary tourism operators and are working hard with organisations like Rare Adventures to develop and enforce rigorous standards that will benefit the businesses, fundraisers and charities that go to great effort to ensure that the diverse and valuable tradition of voluntary tourism continues to flourish.”