G Adventures' Poon Tip Launches Appeal to Unmask - and Educate - Colosseum Vandals

Rome Colosseum and Bruce Poon Tip, Founder of G Adventures.

G Adventures' founder is putting his money where his mouth is, after a video went viral earlier this week showing tourists defacing Rome's colosseum, carving their names "Ivan + Haley 23" into the 2000-year old monument.

Officials in Italy want the vandals prosecuted and even jailed. Defacing the historic site is punishable by a fine up to about $15,000 plus five years in jail.

But in keeping with his personal and company philosophy of responsible travel, Poon Tip wants to turn the shocking act into a teaching moment.

“A destination should leave its mark on us, not the other way around.”

He has launched a global search for ‘Ivan + Hayley’ in an effort to educate them to be more conscious travellers.

And if they're identified, Poon Tip intends to invite Ivan and Hayley to travel with the community tourism tour operator - with a ‘reward’ trip also being offered for any one person who assists in reaching them.

“Rather than condemning Ivan and Hayley, I’m launching an appeal to find them, and to invite them to GX, G Adventures’ inaugural annual community travel summit, which is taking place in September in Peru. At this industry-wide event they’ll have the opportunity to experience the concept of community tourism firsthand, and to learn the value of protecting the destinations they visit.”

Poon Tip is also the executive producer of The Last Tourist; a travel documentary that pulls back the curtain to examine the impact of mass tourism on destinations, the environment and local communities.

“While it’s shocking to see anyone deface an ancient landmark like the Colosseum, it’s not as uncommon as many would think. When filming The Last Tourist, we captured footage of tourists behaving in the most unconscious ways, from spray painting landmarks to bragging about destroying 6,000 year old rock formations. Unfortunately, travellers often suspend the values they abide by at home the moment they step on a plane, and it’s this mindset that needs to change,” says Poon Tip.

“I encourage everyone to watch The Last Tourist, as the ability to travel is a massive privilege that only a small percentage of the world has, and travellers need to understand that power and the responsibility that comes along with it."

On Thursday 29JUN, Italian officials revealed they now believe the man filmed carving the couple's names into the Colosseum is a tourist from Britain, but no further information is yet known.

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