All that glitters is, in fact, gold.
Especially when you get more than 400 travel lovers together for a sparkly party in Peru.
It was a night of blonde extensions, face glitter and yards of gold lamé as G Adventures’ closed its inaugural “GX” summit last Wednesday (Sept. 27) with a gold-themed eleganza extravaganza in Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes that was once capital of the Inca Empire.
Held in the city’s ancient temple of Qorikancha, the glam gala – sponsored by ProColombia, and inspired by Colombia’s Lost City of Gold – was an epic and electric celebration of tourism as a force for good, the underlying theme of G’s multi-day summit, which PAX covered on location from Sept. 22-27.
Spotted in a sea of shimmering travel advisors, suppliers, media, travellers, locals and company employees was David Green, G’s managing director for Canada and global VP of sales and customer operations, who was decked from head to toe in gold-coloured clothing, shoes, bracelets, chains, a cap and glasses.
Whether Green was going for gold in the category of best dressed, or was on the verge of dropping a rap single, the multi-piece ensemble worked well.
“I wish all of this gold was by Armani, but it’s by Amazon,” Green quipped about his bling-bling outfit.
The night’s venue – a column-lined courtyard, attached to what was once considered the most sacred temples of all the Incas – was also good as gold.
The temple walls of Qorikancha, built in the mid-15th century, were originally lined with sheets of the valuable, dense metal. All that remains today is masterful stonework.
Adding to this was a stilt-walking show of Peruvian traditions and Inca warriors, an ancient era that GX attendees, over the course of a week, blended with while on tours of Peru’s Sacred Valley and beyond.
A collective awareness of hot topics discussed earlier that day, at GX’s main event at Cusco town hall, was also embedded in the crowd.
The headline event, held on World Tourism Day, featured keynote talks and discussions about community tourism, from its ability to empower women and alleviate the climate biodiversity crisis to how it’s portrayed in media.
Executives also shared three announcements: firstly, that G’s non-profit, Planeterra, will commit to 300 community projects by the year 2030, a new “Trees for Days” initiative, and finally, a new collection of trips, called “Geluxe,” an upgraded active program, debuting in 2024, that will take travellers further off the beaten path, through community tourism.
TTAND & PAX win awards
Before the gold party faded to black, a handful of GX awards were announced – two of which went to attendees from Canada.
G’s “Agent of Change” award went to Ontario-based Chen Yu of The Travel Agent Next Door.
Speaking with PAX, Yu, a Chinese immigrant, called the win “a milestone” not only for her, but for all Chinese travellers.
“I am passionate about building a bridge between Chinese travellers and wonderful tour operators,” Yu said. “I know how brave they are to explore the world.”
Yu went on to thank G Adventures for making travel happen, saying she intends to “keep moving forward and reach a new summit.”
The other award went to yours truly – PAX’s Managing Editor Michael Pihach – who, out of all the media at GX, was honoured for generating the best “buzz” at the summit.
The trophies were G-branded Pucará bulls (Torito de Pucará), which are a symbol of protection, happiness and fertility in Peru.
Today, it is common to find the bulls in some houses in Peru, either as an ornament inside the house or on the roof of it.
Macho Macho Man
But the night of fun and fierce fashion didn’t end there.
As the gold party winded down, everyone piled into buses and zipped off to a “secret location” – a local nightclub – where the one and only Village People appeared on stage to perform songs from their catalogue of sexy disco hits, such as “Macho Man” and “Y.M.C.A.”
Attendees then boogied into the night, with colourful long balloons hand, while a cast of neon-lit go-go boys and human-sized guinea pigs (a Peruvian delicacy, FYI) twirled and twerked on stage.
What happens in Peru, stays in Peru. Until PAX shows up, that is.
Bruce Poon Tip, the founder of G Adventures, commented on the wild rumpus the morning after, noting the “tears of happiness” he saw as participants from all corners of travel celebrated tourism with “passion and reckless abandon.”
“I haven’t partied like that since I was a teenager,” Poon Tip told PAX. “It was a euphoric feeling of belonging to this community of communities, and having a purpose of why we were there and us being able to deliver it.”
“There was such an energy in the room.”