Travelxism and DifaBike team up to Create Job Opportunities through Inclusive Tourism
The COVID-19 pandemic jeopardized 100 million jobs within the tourism sector, with women, youth, informal economy workers and people with disabilities being the most at-risk categories for losing their livelihoods. In 2020, we launched the COVID-19 Relief Program for Tourism to work with travel entrepreneurs around the world to ensure their businesses stay afloat and grow resilient in the face of the current and future crises.
One year after the program graduation, we had the opportunity to reconnect with two alumnus that have since gone on to build more impactful products as a result of what they accomplished during the program.
Travelxism, led by Gilang Ahmed Fauzi, is a sustainable tourism consultant for travel entrepreneurs and adventure travelers. Through innovation research, training programs and workshops, they provide guidance on tourism community development and digitalizing destinations. They also support in raising awareness about unique tourism destinations and sustainable travel experiences.
Difabike, led by Triyono, is a social impact-driven businesses that focuses on providing tourism and courier services for wheelchair users and people with disabilities.
In 2020, Gilang and Triyono applied for the COVID-19 Relief Program for Tourism with the intention of finding support for their respective businesses to adapt to the crisis and keep their work going through it. The two founders met during one of the virtual networking sessions as part of the program, and that’s how the story of DifaTravelX started.
During the pandemic, Travelxism worked on developing their virtual tour products for sites across the country as a temporary substitute for in-person tours. Through their work with their mentor, Matt Alexander – who specializes in Operations and Delivery with TUI Group – the potential areas for growth and scalability of the product became clear in the months to follow. It can be used for educational purposes; for people to get to experience the history of Jakarta from anywhere in the world. It can also be adapted to sites in other cities across Europe and Asia.
The tour is a live streaming experience; with a guide on site that leads virtual visitors through the destination. Due to internet connection limitations, the tour is also supported by different technologies such as high quality 360° videos or photos.
After meeting Tryiono, Gilang realized that his tours can also be used for people with disabilities, especially tours of sites that aren’t yet equipped to be accessible.
“While there are facilities for people with disabilities in popular destinations in the city like Borobudur temple, anything above the ground floor is still inaccessible. Virtual tours can be a way for people to still enjoy the exhilarating view without going all the way up.”
7-8% of foreign tourists in the world’s tourism market are living with a disability, so the potential impact of making world tourism sites more accessible is already huge. However, it is not enough to make tour sites more accessible. True equality in the industry comes through creating opportunities for employment, education and economic independence, which is the core mission of DifaTravelX.
“The combination of DifaBike and Travelxism, DifaTravelX, aims to empower people with physical disabilities to design and lead their own tours. We provide capacity building and mentoring; everything that we know about running a virtual tour. Our goal is that every participant will be able to actually organize and build their own virtual tour product, and that this product would be sold and offered through mainstream tour operators,” said Gilang.
The DifaTravelX program is offered through 5 stages.
Stage 1: Training
During this stage, participants learn all that they need to know about designing virtual tours.
Stage 2: Mentoring
This stage consists of one on one sessions with an experienced mentor to improve their individual capacities, building on what they learned during the training program. The mentor focuses on skills such as public speaking, English for tourism operators, and presentation skills as a tour guide.
Stage 3: Production
During this stage, the team supports participants in creating visual and creative material for their tour product to promote it online to different target audiences.
Stage 4: Piloting
In this stage, the participants are on site and using the Travelxism platform to lead their own tours.
Stage 5: Launch
When the tour is fully developed, the product is officially launched and added to tour operator platforms where tourists can buy and experience it. At this stage, participants are free to offer their tours to multiple OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) and online marketplaces so that they can benefit from multiple income streams.
No one size fits all solution
As a person with disabilities, Triyono recounts his experience with various tour sites across Indonesia.
“While Bali tends to be more friendly in terms of accessibility in hotels, facilities on site, etc., Jakarta is still lacking behind,” he said, “Through projects like DifaTravelX, we aim to lead the work towards making tourism as an industry more accessible in Indonesia and around the world.”
Triyono and his team also ensure that the product can cater to different types of disabilities; there’s no one size fits all solution.
“When people have their own sources of income, when they can rely on their own skills for their livelihood, it makes a world of difference. Not only does their confidence increase, but so does their quality of life,” Tryiono remarked, “Our goal is that by the end of this pilot, 30 people with disabilities will have a steady job as tour guides, and a start to their own entrepreneurial careers as product owners.”
The long-term impact of a support community
To this day, one year after the program ended, Travelxism is still in touch with their mentor on a regular basis to follow up on their work. Through his network, he connected the team to other professionals in the global tourism industry for advice on things like their product development and marketing strategy, which directly helped them attract and close new clients. The team reflects on their experience with the program as one that gave them access to a new world of possibilities.
“I think the biggest impact was that working with enpact gave us was allowing us to see the broader perspective of our work. It also helped us see that we’re not alone in this game, that we are not the only ones pushing sustainable tourism efforts in Jakarta. Aside from our work with DifaBikeX, we also partnered with other projects in the community, and are looking to collaborate further with TUI Group to create a bigger impact with our products.”
DifaTravelX was launched on the 21st of May, 2022 during a live event with a pilot cohort of 30 participants. The project has earned recognition from the local government in Yogyakarta (Former capital city of Indonesia) and is supported financially by the Australian Government.
This piece was co-authored by Ines Drieouch.