Advantage Travel was founded on the idea of supporting local communities in Ecuador’s Amazon by providing them with employment opportunities, assisting them in conservation efforts and carefully revealing their traditions and cultures to tourists, who can then learn and contribute to the respect Amazon ecosystems deserve.
Advantage Travel History
Advantage Travel Founder and CEO Raul Garcia, also known as “El Capi” (for captain), is a naval commander and environmental steward who dedicates his companies, life and work to education, ecotourism and conserving the precious ecosystem and cultures of the Amazon. In 1977, Garcia helped build the first river cruise on the Napo River. In 1985, he co-founded Ecuador’s Ecotourism Society and served as president for eight years (1995-2003). In 1992, he founded Advantage Travel, with the goal of providing employment opportunities to river community members and now boasts a crew with at least 50% being from local communities. His mission has been to continuously create relationships with locals along the Ecuadorian Amazon River and help locals gain an understanding of the modernity, economy and tourism pressing closer to their shores.
Advantage Travel Sustainability
Garcia has created a symbiotic relationship between tourists and locals, which is a trend commonly seen but not often done as well as with Advantage Travel in Ecuador’s Amazon.
Aware of the delicate balance between nature, tourism and the local communities, Raul Garcia began a partnership between Advantage Travel and the Wildlife Conservation Society of Ecuador (WCS) in 2010. Along the Ecuadorian Amazon, charapas turtles are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and local communities have been working hard to protect the river beds where they lay eggs. Advantage Travel offers paid income to the community members who are already working hard to protect this turtle species by creating safe and controlled breeding environments.
By sharing their efforts with Advantage Travel river boat guests, local community members are able to earn an income, come in contact with other cultures and are supported in their efforts to protect their lands. This model not only encourages tourists to engage in the precious circle of life, but it allows them to take home and share the sense of urgency and protection our wild habitats need. Garcia has created a symbiotic relationship between tourists and locals, which is a trend commonly seen but not often done as well as with Advantage Travel in Ecuador’s Amazon.
Because the efforts in partnering with locals to protect charapas turtles has gone well, Garcia applied the same campaign to pink river dolphins in the Napo River, bolstering local efforts to stabilize and increase their population. Again, by employing local community members, Advantage Travel is supporting conservation, providing income, and increasing the chance that tourists see wildlife and bring home stories and compassion after their adventure cruise.
Advantage Travel & AdventureSmith Explorations
AdventureSmith Founder and President Todd Smith started working with Raul Garcia and Advantage Travel in 2008 on the original Manatee river boat. In September 2013, Todd was a guest on the inaugural voyage and launch of the luxury river ship Anakonda. He considers Raul to be a friend and says, “Raul is a force of nature with a boisterous magnetic personality. His real passion is the Amazon where he is a travel pioneer and advocate for sustainable tourism.” AdventureSmith is thrilled to partner with Advantage Travel and we intend to continue to support their amazing environmental and sustainability efforts for many years to come.