Meet Viatu, the winner of the pitch night of SEIF’s Impact Academy – Spring Cycle 2023. Viatu is a Zug-based sustainable travel startup, founded by Alfredo Seidemann, Bárbara Büchel and Johan Bodenstein.
Viatu is on a mission to make sustainable travel accessible by building a platform that empowers you to easily plan and book a multi-day trip to beautiful destinations that currently might feel out of reach. Viatu curates destinations and partners based on high sustainability standards to ensure that the economic leakage is minimized and tourism’s positive impact is maximized. By booking through Viatu, you can easily customise your travel experience and conveniently book all elements of your journey in one place. Upon your return home, the carbon emissions for your trip are automatically calculated and offset in collaboration with Squake.earth.
The boom in tourism in certain areas of the world has put pressure on local populations and natural habitats. The presence of international hotel chains and service providers often means that the money from tourists does not flow into the local economy – what is called tourism leakage. Viatu does not want to simply balance out the negative effects of over-tourism, but rather go one step further: they envision sustainable travel as a force for good, that can have positive repercussions on local communities and contribute to conservation efforts of ecosystems and their wildlife. By partnering with locally-owned or managed businesses (lodges, hotels, and activity providers) that are carefully vetted by the Viatu team, they ensure that the majority of the revenues from tourism stay in the area and within the communities, partly flowing back into nature conservation. Viatu is currently offering trips to Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia, positively impacting the local economies in all these countries.
Viatu contributes to SDG 5 Gender Equality, 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth (and more specifically sub-target 8.9 Promote Beneficial and Sustainable Tourism), 12 Responsible Consumption and Production, and SGD 15 Life on Land.
I am super grateful to the SEIF team, my coaches, and fellow founders for the collaborative interactions and stimulus. At a time when catastrophic news seems to increase in frequency from all directions, it is encouraging to have the opportunity to connect and be inspired by changemakers who generously offer their time and insights to enable systematic, and collaborative, impact. When one is knee-deep in the operational hustle of the day-to-day startup reality, it is incredibly helpful to have external stakeholders, like those involved in SEIF’s Impact Academy, supporting you. They help you reconnect with the bigger purpose and provide guidance on frameworks that allow you to track and measure the progress towards the ultimate impact you set to have.