By Anne Majumdar22 Dec 2017Consumer demand for meaningful experiences will see philanthropic projects become increasingly integral to Abercrombie & Kent’s luxury travel offering in the coming years. The Executive Director of Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP), Keith Sproule, told KarryOn that learning about and experiencing its philanthropic investments with partner communities has become an fundamental part of the A&K guest experience. As a result, its project portfolio has been expanding at a rate of 15 to 20 percent per year. “I only see the pace of expansion becoming more rapid,” he said. Sri Lanka; Yala National Park; Project Leopard AKP now has eight full-time community development professionals in destinations including Peru, Sri Lanka, Zambia and Thailand. In the second quarter of 2018, it will also add Uganda and Brazil. “By 2020 I anticipate there will be twice the current number of projects and almost twice the number of full-time philanthropy coordinators around the globe,” Sproule said. Travellers around the world are increasingly seeking out meaningful experiences while travelling – a trend that A&K is not alone in recognising. But while some players are only just catching on, helping to sustain the beauty and diversity of every destination has been part of the company DNA since it was founded by Geoffrey Kent in 1962, Sproule continued. A&K now has 52 offices around the globe with each one supporting the mission of AKP “to positively impact lives and livelihoods in the communities where our guests travel.” To do this, the company works closely with community partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America on projects such as the new maternity ward in Zambia to help reduce mother to child transmission of HIV during childbirth. With safe, clean maternity wards with medical staff identified as the solution to the issue by a number of organisations, AKP agreed to build the facility to move mothers away from home births. “But at the same time we negotiated with the Ministry of Health that they would staff and supply the maternity and the community would promote its use to pregnant mothers,” Sproule said. “It’s one of our largest investments, and one we’re quite proud of.” Travellers are able to experience the projects first hand. For example, guests visiting the iconic Victoria Falls in Zambia can also visit the maternity ward to learn more about how access to health care is making a real difference in people’s lives. For many travellers, the visit is remembered as a highlight of the trip “Philanthropy is a learned activity in life and, when combined with travel, can be life changing,” Sproule said. “Eyes and hearts open as a result of travel, and the philanthropy program is a way to build bridges of understanding between people and places … even after a trip has ended.” Are you noticing a rise in demand for these types of travel experiences? Other stories you may like BANNED! Botswana prohibits plastic bags PENNY PINCHING TIPS: Making that dream holiday a reality Chimu and KARRYON present the Revolution Roadshow. Are you ready to join the travel revolution?