Our Story 2017-08-26T13:51:16+00:00

Our Story

Why AltruVistas?

Bringing Equity to Tourism is what Altruvistas does.  As one of the largest industries on the globe, it is one of the few that is little examined with a human rights framework.  After working in the nonprofit human rights sector and overseeing advocacy travel programs  for two decades, our founder Malia Everette recognized the power of travel to increase intercultural understanding, forge peaceful dialogue, transform the consciousness and inspire the agency of the traveler. She simultaneously recognized the economic power of travel, when the experiences and the tourism dollars were directly benefiting local communities and the host economy.   Thus Altruvistas was founded upon core ethical values as well as the pragmatic financial strategy of deeply examining our travel “supply web.” For more on our model please see Malia Everette’s chapter in THE GOOD COMPANY. In this book, Business Professor Robert Girling shares 18 inspiring case studies of new as well as established companies and social enterprises from around the world that are making our planet a better place

Tourism as an industry has evolved into a global phenomenon. It is one of the most important social activities and economic sectors in the international political economy. According to the UNWTO (United Nation’s World Tourism Organization), currently the industry accounts for 5% of the global GDP, 1 in 12 jobs, and is a major export sector. Sustained growth is predicted over the next two decades, “International tourist arrivals are set to increase by and average of 43 million a year between 2010 and 2013. At the projected pace of growth, we will surpass the 1 billion mark by 2012, up from 940 million in 2010. By 2030, the number is anticipated to reach 1.8 billion” (Towards Tourism 2030, UNWTO). Clearly the economic indicators show that tourism is a growing and vibrant sector of the economy. This is an incredible opportunity for communities and nations around the world to take leadership to invest in tourism products that address the UN Millennium Development Goals (particularly poverty alleviation, gender equity, etc.)’ create socioeconomic growth, promote social progress and environmental sustainability.

The boom of the tourism industry is simplistically valued as a positive trend. However, when we analyze conventional travel receipts we clearly deduct that there are major inequities in the current system. The biggest global problem from a sustainable and socially responsible lens of the conventional travel industry is leakage and this is the issue that Altruvistas is intentionally addressing.

Examples of leakage and its “lost opportunities” for local benefit:

According to current statistics assembled by UNCTAD, leakages in the tourism sector total up to 85% in some African least developed countries, more than 80% in the Caribbean, 70% in Thailand and 40% in India (Third World Resurgence)
Two-thirds of the income from tourism in the Mediterranean – the world’s largest tourist destination – returned to less than 10 tour operators from northern Europe. (WWF)
Study estimates 70% of all money spent by tourists in Thailand left the country, via foreign-owned tour operators, airlines, hotels, imported drinks and food, etc. (Sustainable Living)
Estimates for other Third World countries range from 80% in the Caribbean to 40% in India. (Sustainable Living)
In most all-inclusive package tours, about 80% of travelers’ expenditures go to the airlines, hotels and other international companies (who often have their headquarters in the travelers’ home countries), and not to local businesses or workers.
Of each US$ 100 spent on a vacation tour by a tourist from a developed country, only around US$ 5 actually stays in a developing-country destination’s economy.
The average import-related leakage for most developing countries today is between 40% and 50% of gross tourism earnings for small economies and between 10% and 20% for most advanced and diversified economies. (UNCTAD) . Import-related leakages: Tourists demand standards of equipment, food, and other products that the host country cannot supply, thus income goes to purchase these imports. As capital leaks out of the host communities hands there is a significant lost opportunity for communities and nations to benefit from tourism receipts, or millions of dollar.

About the Logo

AltruVistas’ Founder, Malia Everette grew up in Hawaii and wanted a unique logo that represented the transactive spirit of human generosity. Reading about the Lomilomi tradition she ran across the Hawaiian Symbol for Thundering Grace, the inalienable and unmerited favor and love from divinity and knew that she had the base image to adapt. According to Kahuna Harry Uhane Jim in the WISE SECRETS OF ALOHA, gratitude is the naturally evoked emotion of human beings acknowledging presence of Grace. In the symbol you’ll see the crosscurrent of grace receiving gratitude, the core relationship between the human being and divinity. The Symbol is believed to align one’s being with the crosscurrent of Grace receiving Gratitude. According to Harry Uhane Jim, “ It is the Hawaiian intent to call and feed the thundering and apparent light of divinity wherever this symbol is engaged in the present”. Malia was inspired to adapt this image for anchoring heaven in our space here on earth and worked with Victoria Odson to brand AltruVistas.

Our Founder


Malia Everette
CEO and Founder of AltruVistas
From 1997-2012, Malía Everette was the Director of Global Exchange’s popular and rapidly expanding Reality Tours program. During her tenure at Reality Tours she has overseen the growth and development of alternative travel programs, study seminars and fact finding human rights delegations to over 45 global destinations. From the US, to Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe and the Caribbean, Malía promotes in-depth experiential education and socially responsible travel as an alternative to the type of “sun and fun” tourism that often results in cultural homogenization and does little to benefit local communities and host economies.She has over two decades of experience pioneering cultural and educational exchanges for other organizations, foundations, educational institutions, and families. Malía believes in the power of travel as a transformative tool for education and social change and sees how travelers have become citizen diplomats. Malía has facilitates tours to over 80 countries around the world focusing on international relations, human rights, political economy, sustainable development, women’s issues and the resilience of indigenous cultures.
Malía Everette has a Bachelors of Art in English Literature and a Masters of Arts in International Relations. She has written numerous articles about socially responsible travel and is a regular speaker and lecturer. Most recently she was a contributor to the The Blue Pages: A Directory of Companies Rated by Their Politics and Practices (2010) and the UNWTO’s “Religious Tourism in Asia and the Pacific” (2011). In January 2013, she will be working on coauthoring two academic articles on capital flight in the travel industry and lecturing at San Francisco State University in Tourism and Recreation Management as a professor of Ecotourism.

Malía is involved with many local environmental and human rights groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. She co-founded the Richmond Progressive Alliance and served as a Human Rights Commissioner for Contra Costa County. Currently, she serves on the boards of the Institute of Agriculture and Food Policy (Food First), the Ethical Traveler, THRIVE-Gulu, Witness for Peace SouthWest and Bay Area Green Tours. Over the past few years she has spent time supporting and building transformational advocacy delegations with organizations like the Women’s Earth Alliance and anti-human trafficking groups, like Not For Sale, ECPAT and MISSSEY. Malía also works as a consultant for established and emerging tourism companies. In 2013 launched her next project AltruVistas, a foundation and socially responsible travel company to promote transformation philanthropy and social responsibility in the travel industry.

Perhaps most importantly, Malía is the proud mother of two intrepid, curious and very well traveled sons!

Malia Everette is one of the brightest, most transformational, skilled travelers’ and overall dear friend that I have and know. We met a number of years ago on a trip where we bunked as roommates for 2+wks in remarkable Iran, and then traveled together again on a trip to Uganda that resulted in the formation of my and my mothers beloved NGO there.

Malia breathes creativity and spirit into those around her, and demonstrates inexplicable skill in navigating her international network of resources (old and new), while maintaining exceptional curiosity towards the unknown, traveling and collecting friends and relationships along the way.

I would travel to the moon, Tran-Siberia, and back again with Malia, and know fully that we would have experiences along the way that were enriching, educating, and joyous to the core. She pulls out the adventurous and beautiful qualities in those around her like few I have ever seen.

I can’t say enough about what a wonderful travel companion, teacher, student, explorer, and shining unique spirit Malia Everette is. She shows care, compassion, cultural awareness and respect, and has a daily positive outlook no matter how dire the presented situation may seem to an average eye.

Expect to dance with the locals in traditional, vibrant, and authentic cultural circles, and study with deep introspection and in-flowing wisdom the histories and sacred pieces of the intricate puzzles of foreign lands. Malia is a well of the unexpected, exciting, and bountiful. Anyone and everyone would be so lucky to travel this world with her as their companion and/or host.
Thoughtfully, truthfully and respectfully

Eliza Dushku | actress/producer/activist | Boston Diva Productions | @ElizaDushku on Twitter