Have the travel bug? Itchy feet? How about rock fever? I am guilty too. I am missing travel. You may have read in my other blogs how travel has allowed me to connect with people like no other experience has. Travel has inspired me; I've also been transformed and learned from travel. But I would be remiss if I didn't say that my most memorable experiences involved interacting with locals. Connecting with others from different cultures brings me joy in general. So, when I'm travelling and interacting with locals, I'm in my element.
Connecting with locals provides a more authentic and immersive experience. However, from a sustainability standpoint, supporting locals and local businesses also stimulate the economy and help with the economic stability of tourism destinations.
Tourism is a growing global industry - globally, 1 in 10 jobs is in the tourism industry. Bermuda like every tourism destination has not seen any tourists since the pandemic. This grinding halt to travel has impacted the livelihoods of so many Bermudians involved in the tourism industry, directly and indirectly. The livelihoods of workers in restaurants, hotels, guesthouses, local attractions as well as tour guides and operators and taxi drivers have all been seriously impacted.
Many communities around the world reliant on tourism have had to look to more creative ways to earn a living during this travel standstill. To keep people who miss travel engaged in the destination while at home, some have taken to providing a variety of virtual tours. However, many communities that rely on tourism who lack the technology to create online content have been assisted by tour operators to produce, for example, books with local food cultures and other local content for travellers to consume. Other tour agencies have launched relief initiatives for local communities who would otherwise be unable to meet their basis needs.
Bermudians like so many other tourist communities have had to become creative during this travel standstill as well. Obviously, there is nothing that can replace the actual experience of travelling, but while you are missing travelling to our beautiful island right now, here are 10 locals and organisations to help you travel from home by connecting you with locals and ways to give back to the island you miss and love!
2. National Museum of Bermuda
To stay connected with the community while closed during this pandemic, the National Museum of Bermuda has developed the "At Home with History", a programme that provides learning, literacy supports and fun activities for students, families and life-long learners. The museum has also developed a programme with a new 360 virtual tour of The Hall of History.
Donations can be made online at their website here which directly supports education and outreach initiatives, the maintenance of their historic buildings and grounds, NMB Staff, and the Museum's collection of 80,000+ objects.
Connect with them on Instagram.
3. Inspired Fitness
Looking to keep fit during these times while still at home. Inspired Fitness has adjusted to the 'new norm' by holding virtual Zumba classes. They now offer virtual classes for every age and fitness level and the First Zumba class is complimentary!
Connect with Inspired Fitness here or here.
BurmuniTees' business model ensures that part proceeds from sales are donated to support local non-profits. They offer a range of candles and branded Bermuda apparel such as socks, hats hoodies and T-shirts for children and adults. "BermuniTees are the Bermuda tees that give back to the CommuniTee! Made with premium materials and designed in Bermuda, our products feature a modern tailored slim fit and are available in multiple designs & colors. They donate a portion of our proceeds back to the community through local charities. BermuniTees are not only meant to make you look good, but also feel good and help you do some good in the process."
5. Sweet Saak Bakery
Sweet Saak Bakery is a local bakery. They are "The quintessential family business. Specializing in traditional Bermudian baked goods, special occasion cakes, and party favours." Kamilah Cannonier, the owner of the bakery held several virtual demonstrations including a cooking demonstration of one of Bermuda's popular food traditions celebrated during the Easter Holidays, the Bermuda Hot Cross Bun. Check out her Instagram and Facebook pages for delicious recipes.
6. Restaurant Relief Fund
7. Fusion Works with Marcia
Since the pandemic began, Marcia remained close to her yoga mat by conducting virtual yoga classes for the community – all at no cost.
Marcia is a qualified yoga teacher and has used this downtime to equip people with the tools to get through these unprecedented times. She believes that breathing is key to connecting with ourselves. Having taken one of her classes, Marcia has a calming and sweet nature and is patient with people new to yoga. My favourite is the online yoga to Reggae Vibes class.
8. Lemon and Ginger Vacation Rentals
Jenita Dyer has always been an incredible ambassador for Bermuda. She is the owner of Lemon & Ginger Vacation Rentals Airbnb and also offers walking tours near her neighbourhood. Before the pandemic you could visit her social media to see her showing off our beautiful island of Bermuda. During the entire pandemic, Jenita kept up the same momentum by actively using her social media to inform visitors about how the pandemic was impacting the island. She has remained a constant inspiration during this time! Join Jenita on one of her virtual tours or for one of her online Bermuda Trivia Events.
Connect with Jenita here.
9. Titan Express
Traditionally, a tour bus operator, Titan Tours has adjusted to the new norm by offering webinars to share with locals and visitors some of Bermuda's rich culture. Titan Express specializes in tours that take a look at the contributions of black Bermudians. Bermuda celebrates Emancipation Day on 1 August and as a lead up to this, Titan tours will be holding webinars in July to commemorate Emancipation.
10. Byways Tours Bermuda
Byways Tours Bermuda operate historical tours of the island. The owner, Heidi has a wealth of knowledge on Bermuda's history. Since the pandemic and with no visitors, Heidi has been offering numerous virtual tours to allow people who arent able to travel right now, some insight on what they can expect when they visit the island. Some virtual tours offer part proceeds from sales towards the preservation of Bermuda's natural history.
Although travel to Bermuda is due to resume on 1 July, 2020, it will be a while until we are back to the swing of things. In the meantime, enjoy these locals and organisations that you can connect with now and support until you travel again.
I know this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the organisations and locals in Bermuda who, in response to the pandemic, are taking a creative approach to keep travelers engaged. So, It would be great if you would provide any feedback about other businesses so that this list can grow.
Those of us lucky enough to see the world have a responsibility to ensure that it is preserved for locals and future generations.
You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.
Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Responsible travel is not only better for our world, it’s also more interesting and memorable. Responsible tourism is the future of travel.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
When people travel, they make unlikely connections and shatter stereotypes.
Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
Martin Luther King Jr
Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.
Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It’s about doing more good.
Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travellers don’t know where they’re going.