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August 14, 2009

Travel Industry Vet Launches The Bodhi Tree Foundation

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Jena Gardner, President and CEO of JG Black Book of Travel announces the launch of The Bodhi Tree Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization charged with mobilizing support from the travel and tourism industry to protect places, help people, and preserve cultures around the globe. The Bodhi Tree Foundation identifies and offers assistance to highly-effective, community-based non-profit organizations that have a proven record of inspiring positive change within the communities they serve.

“Travel today is not only a means of enjoyment and enrichment, but also an invaluable portal to understanding the urgent need to protect the natural and cultural heritage of our planet and the well being of local communities around the world,” said Ms. Gardner. “The Bodhi Tree Foundation was established to harness the significant resources of the travel and tourism industry to directly benefit local communities and the travelers who gain immeasurable joy by visiting them.”

The Bodhi Tree Foundation will provide funding to five benefactors in 2009:

-Fundacion Haciendas Del Mundo Maya: Established to rebuild highly marginalized indigenous communities in the Yucatan Peninsula by developing and implementing social projects based on five areas: health, education, housing, environmental and productive projects.

-The African Wildlife Fund: Provides support to the people of Africa to ensure protection of the continent’s wildlife and wild lands. The Foundation is funding conservation efforts directed at the endangered black rhino population of the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.

-Protravel/FXB International Rwandan Village: Established in 1995 in the wake of the AIDS pandemic and devastation from the genocide to provide support to families and communities faced with the challenges of caring for thousands of orphans and vulnerable children left homeless.

-The Southern Environmental Association of Belize: Works towards improving stewardship and the environmental integrity of key marine areas in southern Belize, including the Belize Barrier Reef System, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the second-largest coral reef in the world.

-Heritage Watch: Dedicated to protecting Cambodia’s cultural treasures by working to prevent the looting and illicit trade of antiquities while promoting responsible, sustainable tourism and economic development.

Ms. Gardner has assembled a dynamic and forward-thinking Board of Directors that sees both the significant responsibility and unique opportunity leaders in the industry have to meet the challenges of our time. Made up of travel industry professionals and global humanitarians, current Board members include: Javier Arredondo, CEO of Editorial Mapas; Melissa Biggs Bradley, Founder of Indagare; Melanie Brandman, CEO of The Brandman Agency; Costas Christ, Global Travel Editor for National Geographic Adventure and Chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards; Tom Jolley, COO and General Counsel for The Sundance Group, LLC; James Saleh, CEO of Habiquad; and Rina Spence, Founder and President of SpenceCare International.

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The Bodhi Tree Foundation will call on travelers and the travel industry to consider the Power of One sm – a campaign that will unite travelers around the world to stand as one in order to make a difference. The campaign will shine light on the power of adding one dollar to every trip booked in order to change lives and give back to the people and places that make travel so rewarding. With 100% of Bodhi Tree Foundation’s donations going directly to the programs it supports, one person and one dollar can be a powerful force of change.

To help spread the word about the Power of One sm campaign and further engage travelers, The Bodhi Tree Foundation has enlisted the support of some of the most socially aware travel companies across the globe. The Bodhi Tree Foundation’s Leadership Council will lend their expertise, knowledge and leadership to support the Foundation’s efforts, while The Bodhi Tree Foundation’s Advisory Board will be more actively engaged in the Foundation’s growth strategy.

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