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The Last Tourist: sustaining travel for a healthy planet

Elephant Riding in Chiang Mai Thailand
Elephant Riding in Chiang Mai Thailand

Two years since the start of the pandemic, the travel industry is seeing signs of optimism with borders reopening and travellers starting to pack their bags again. It’s an apt time for both suppliers and customers to acknowledge that despite its many benefits, the traditional industry has taken too large a toll on the planet and its inhabitants, including other species. One thing is sure: the old ways are not working.

The new documentary The Last Tourist reveals the real conditions and consequences of one of the largest industries worldwide through the forgotten voices of those working in its shadow. The role of the modern tourist is on trial.

It offers tangible ways people can help to support a more sustainable industry. It explores important issues including animals suffering for entertainment, orphaned children exploited for profit, and developing economies strained under the massive weight of foreign-owned hotel chains. 

The Last Tourist is produced by Bruce Poon Tip, the founder of community tourism pioneer and adventure operator, G Adventures, and directed and written by Tyson Sadler. The film features travel and tourism visionaries including Dr. Jane Goodall (Jane Goodall Institute, United Nations Messenger of Peace), Lek Chailert (Save Elephant Foundation), Gary Knell (National Geographic), Meenu Vadera (Sakha Cabs For Women) and Melissa Matlow (World Animal Protection).

Jane Goodall Interview
Jane Goodall Interview


Bruce Poon Tip says his vision for the documentary came well before the pandemic, but the timing of the documentary’s release could not be more relevant as the world’s borders reopen and people look to travel with more purpose and intention.

“We’ve always said travel – community tourism in particular — could be the biggest distributor of wealth the world has ever seen, and even the fastest path to peace which is such an important message right now,” he says. “We wanted to bring this message to life on the big screen and at the same time expose some of the often well-intentioned but harmful practices many tourism experiences support.” 

The Last Tourist demonstrates what a dire state the industry was in pre-pandemic, and recommends tangible ways travellers can have a positive impact as the world reopens to international travel again, he says.

The documentary was awarded the Special Jury Prize for Social Impact by the Canadian Documentary Jury at the Calgary International Film Festival. The doc examines the history of modern tourism and offers a critique of its current state. It introduces people who are leveraging tourism to preserve cultural heritage, sustain wildlife, and support the social and economic wellbeing of communities. 

Founded in 1990 by social entrepreneur Bruce Poon Tip, G Adventures is a small group adventure travel operator offering more than 1,000 tours in 100 countries, on all seven continents. Its Ripple Score assessment measures how many traveller dollars stay in the local economy.

Director Tyson Sadler says the film took the team on a journey to 16 different countries. “We interviewed dozens of leading travel experts, tour operators and academics, as well as travellers and tourism service providers in host communities that are leveraging travel to improve their quality of life. The 90-minute film pulls back the curtain on one of the world’s largest industries to illustrate the true cost of travel on the environment, wildlife, and host communities,” says Sadler. 

Elevation Pictures has become one of Canada’s leading entertainment companies specializing in distribution and production. Elevation has released award-winning films such as The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch; Room starring Brie Larson; The Father starring Anthony Hopkins; and Best Picture winner, Moonlight. Their producing highlights include The Nest starring Jude Law and Carrie Coon; French Exit, starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges.

The Last Tourist had its world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival, and will be released by Elevation Pictures in Canada via digital and on-demand platforms including  Apple TV and Amazon from April 05, 2022, with a supporting theatrical run in select theatres from April 01, 2022.  

For more information:  www.thelasttouristfilm.com 

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