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Bruce Beckham of Tourism Cares

Bruce Beckham
Executive Director and CEO of Tourism Cares

You ran a travel company for years. Do you ever miss for-profit work?

“Yes, definitely. Occasionally I miss for-profit business, because I’m entrepreneurial by nature. Nonprofit work is about giving back, and the rewards are different — but they are very real nonetheless.”

What goes into selecting one of Tourism Cares’ work-site projects?
“The primary elements are the willingness of the destination to greet and handle as many as 300 to 400 people. Other factors include the destination’s infrastructure, the local leadership they can lend to the project and, of course, the significance of the site. The most important thing about a work site is that at the end of the day people can look back on what they’ve done and have the feeling ‘I made a difference today.’”

Some of the country’s largest tour companies have embraced this effort from the outset.
Why is that?

“There are several reasons, I think. I think they recognize that if we don’t take care of what we treasure, we can lose it. These companies understand the significance of these sites and the need to protect them for future generations. And it’s the camaraderie they feel when they are on-site with us giving back. You have to do one of these projects to understand that feeling. Tourism Cares work projects offer a unique opportunity to spend time with your professional peers doing something together to make a difference. These tour operators have embraced that.”

Have you found or are you seeking major financial support from companies or foundations outside the travel industry?
“There are many companies that are not directly tied to this industry that have good reason to support it. They are on our radar screen. Companies like Bridgestone Tires, Samsonite, the oil companies, etc. We’re having conversations with companies like that in the very near future. We have not gone after major foundations but also have those in future plans. We’re actually hiring two people in the next couple of months: a marketing director and a development director. Our feeling is that it’s time to move on this right now.”

What’s the next phase or level for Tourism Cares?
“To become a worldwide organization. We need to do projects outside the borders of North America. The plans are already on paper.”

Is Tourism Cares established well enough now to thrive once you leave the scene?

“Absolutely. There’s no question about that in my mind. I would be very disappointed if it did not.”