Sharon Vipond's Blog

Hong Kong
Sharon is Canadian, and came to Hong Kong in 2008 from “tree-hugging” Vancouver For the past 15 years, Sharon has been involved with volun-tourism and community-based projects while focusing on building networks with like-minded individuals through education and international development (ID) communities. Keeping the DIY motive at heart, Sharon is in her element when she is working “in the field,” side by side with those tackling pressing environmental and livelihood issues through the implementation of sustainable solutions. Sharon feels that spending a vast amount of her time in direct contact with those in rural villages allows her to stay connected with sustainability initiatives and complexities in those places. Through her trade and travel social enterprise, Common Connections, and her online artisan goods marketplace, Knots & Strokes, Sharon provides the Hong Kong community with true and real opportunities for those seeking meaningful travel and a marketplace for eco-friendly textile products and art. As you connect through this blog, Sharon invites you to share your ideas of new ways to increase awareness for fair trade and to develop eco-friendly alternatives for travel and fashion in Hong Kong. Favorite Quote: “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” 
--Victor Hugo

2014 PATA Award

Canada-Sapa Tourism Project
August 9, 2014

In case you missed it, and you are interested in eco-tourism and sustainability, I was just catching up on Vancouver news and read the exciting announcement by PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) for their 2014 Grand Award Winner for Education and Training: it was awarded to Vancouver’s Capilano University and their CBT Vietnam Project!
The first reason I am so excited about this award being given to this particular international program, is because of the attention it will bring to a successful collaborative sustainable community development model.  This major success was based on replicating a model they (Capilano University and Hanoi Open University) co-developed for the first joint project, 2010-2012 in the Sapa region, Vietnam.  The fact they have now proven the model can work in another community gives not only credibility to the method but also to the soundness of the practice and, most importantly, measurable positive outcomes for the community.  Now, with this high profile recognition for their work, lets hope other educational institutions, NGOs and governments will take notice and adopt the same.
The second reason I am so excited about it, is the level of exposure it will hopefully bring to their Tourist Code of Ethics. A couple of years ago, the Canadian and Vietnamese students engaged in the initial phases of the project, designed a code of ethics that embodies the heart and soul of the project:  sustainable, responsible tourism. It was and remains their hope that, “a band of ethical tourists can be formed who, through their commitment and actions will minimize the harmful effects of tourism and as a growing body of committed travelers, can force the tourism industry all over the world to change.”
Basically, the code ask the travel to be committed to assuming the role of a guest, being responsible for one’s actions and consequential outcomes, and, with integrity promote ethical travel through exchange of knowledge, choosing ethical and environmentally friendly alternatives, social activism (including volunteerism), and being respectful to the host countries culture as well as your own. 
At Common Connections we endorse this Tourist Code of Ethics, offering meaningful travel inline with all aspects of the code.
For details of the Sapa Tourism project, their code of ethics and relevant traveller information for Sapa with possible options for trekking tours, homestays, and more, visit their site,



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