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Award-Winning Documentary Makes Its Debut

WHY IT RATES: Get to know a very special area of the globe and fuel your wanderlust for an eco-adventure.—Michael Schottey, TravelPulse Director of Digital Content


The global community-based tourism platform Lokal Travel released its award-winning documentary film, “2.5%—The Osa Peninsula,” June 26.

Winner of Santa Monica Independent Film Festival’s Best Short Documentary category and the Mexico International Film Festival’s Silver Palm Award, the 48-minute film is available at lokaltravel.com/film for online streaming with a contribution of $1 or more. Funds raised will support Lokal Travel’s efforts to make culturally immersive, sustainable travel that supports local communities more accessible to travelers around the world.

Told through the personal stories of several local residents, the film is a relevant and timely documentary exploring the negative impacts of mass tourism, and emerging synergy between rainforest conservation and community-based tourism in Costa Rica’s rural Osa Peninsula—home to 2.5 percent of the earth’s biodiversity.

“The film highlights the potential of the tourism industry to have a huge impact on empowering local communities, as well as protect our natural resources,” said Marco Bollinger, one of the filmmakers and co-founders of Lokal Travel.

The film spans more than five years following members of a rural rainforest community as they survive and try to build a new life by launching local tourism services. The film follows Xinia, a single mother who mines gold for a living, and introduces Johnson and his brother Carlos, ex-hunters who now lead wildlife treks on their rainforest property.

“Ultimately, making ‘2.5%’ was the catalyst that led us to launch Lokal and work to transform the travel industry for the better,” said co-director and co-founder Eytan Elterman. “We couldn’t have launched our company without meeting these Costa Rican entrepreneurs.”

The five-year exploration led filmmakers Bollinger and Elterman to partner with two former Kiva employees to form Lokal Travel in 2016 in an effort to address the lack of support for local communities around the world. Lokal now provides easy access to vetted, sustainable lodging options and travel experiences in 29 countries and more than 200 communities, including those run by Osa Peninsula locals seen in the film.

Around the world, Lokal helps boost community tourism projects, like those in the Osa, that are focused on protecting natural resources and preserving local traditions. Both the company and the film’s premise for impact and social change lies in the fact that the global travel industry represents 10 percent of global GDP and employs 1 in 11 people around the world. But without community-based tourism projects, only $5 out of every $100 spent by travelers remains in the communities visited, according to a study from the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Conversely, by booking travel experiences on Lokal’s platform, about 80 percent of what a traveler spends goes directly into the local economy.

While the film transports viewers to the Osa on the screen, Lokal can take travelers there in real life. Lokal’s seven-night “Osa Jungle and Community Adventure” tour leads guests through several rural rainforest communities featured in the film to experience the local way of life with residents, observe wildlife in Corcovado National Park and relax on a beautiful beach or two. Starting at $2,050 per person, the trip, including accommodations, activities, and meals, will next be offered in December 2018, with a maximum group size of eight. lokaltravel.com/go/osa-community-adventure.

With community action at the forefront of Lokal’s business model, the film is launching with the support of 20 brands and nonprofits pushing for a more sustainable travel industry, including Sustainable Travel International.

“Community-based tourism is a powerful tool for sustainable development, particularly in rural areas,” said Geoff Bolan, CEO of Sustainable Travel International. “By bringing this message to life in one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, this documentary makes a compelling case for why sustainable, community-based tourism should be the future of the travel industry.”

Other community partners for the film’s launch include Hosteling International USA, Impact Travel Alliance, Be Social Change, Sustainable Travel International, Wanderful, Hitlist, Tourism Cares and more.

“A beautiful and intimate exploration into the Osa Peninsula, this film forces an awareness to our social and environmental obligations as an industry and as visitors alike. It’s honest and a necessary window into the story you haven’t heard,” said Netanya Trimboli, Hosteling International USA’s director of communications.

Bollinger and Elterman are hopeful their film can inspire travelers as much as it did them.

“Eytan and Marco have created an important tool with this film,” said Paula Vlamings, CEO of Tourism Cares. “It communicates not only the opportunity this kind of authentic tourism creates for local people and traveler, but the importance of traveling in a different way for the future of our planet.”

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