“It’s not enough to have lived,” Winston Churchill famously observed. “We should be determined to live for something.”
This mindset is influencing leisure, too. Curated excursions that combine tourism with activism, philanthropy and conservation have been specially selected by HSBC Jade to feature within its Enrich List of the 50 most inspiring global experiences. They are grouped within the Purposeful Life pillar or ‘sublist’. (The Enrich List’s other three categories are Curated Adventure, Ultimate Wellbeing and Game Changers.)
Purposeful Life experiences enable participants to engage with the positive impact of preserving, protecting and conserving – a magnificent example of which is the work of the World Monuments Fund (WMF). WMF advances its own purpose of saving the world’s most treasured sites by enabling supporters to participate in exquisite excursions.
Two or three times a year it arranges tailor-made trips for 15-20 travellers, enabling them to see up close its restoration work on architectural and cultural heritage sites at risk from neglect, natural forces or human actions.
“Past trips have included a private dinner under the stars at Angkor Wat, with the temple complex dramatically lit just for us, and exclusive access with WMF specialists to heritage sites that are normally off-limits to the public,” says Bénédicte de Montlaur, CEO of WMF.
Last year, WMF travellers to Jordan not only encountered the spectacular ancient site of Petra, but also had the opportunity to visit an important WMF training programme in Mafraq, where Syrian refugees and Jordanian locals were learning stone masonry skills.
“Our travellers learned first-hand how heritage conservation can be used as a tool to create social impact,” says de Montlaur. “Because cultural heritage is a source of pride and identity for those uprooted by war, programmes like this provide communities with new hope and a powerful tool for healing after conflict.”
Being a WMF supporter can take many forms: “We have those who choose to support our overall organisational work and mission, and some who elect to support particular themes they feel passionate about. For example, WMF has robust programming around Jewish Heritage, Modernism at Risk and Emergency Crisis Response for cultural heritage,” explains de Montlaur.
“It’s easy to view cultural heritage as all about the past and old stones, but heritage is innately about the present and, more importantly, the future.”
On the idyllic Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, travellers are offered another Purposeful Life excursion on the Enrich List that is a little more hands-on, and focused on communities.
The eco-friendly Salt of Palmar Hotel offers its guests a ‘skills swap’ whereby holidaymakers can sign up to share a skill of their own with local residents and, in return, learn craft skills from the islanders.
“Teach whatever you can teach” declares the hotel, which offers to find a local with the visitor’s particular skill on their must-learn list. Among the skills visitors can learn from locals are pottery, basket weaving and, intriguingly, the art of early morning fishing.
The hotel has incorporated learning into its own services as well, with chefs sharing their culinary secrets for fish preparation and musicians teaching instrumental technique.
Underlying all these initiatives is a desire to enable visitors to walk away with ‘more than a tan’ – to gain an understanding of the community they have visited and the culture they’ve been welcomed into.
“Some of the most valuable capital among HSBC Jade clients is social capital,” says Laura Warby of Crowd DNA, who helped research and compile the 50-strong Enrich List.
“Our research shows success is not just about material possessions, it’s about family, about building a legacy, helping others and passing on what they’ve learned. Doing well by doing good is a powerful ethos.”