Bruce Poon Tip

Toronto Through the Eyes of Gap Adventures Founder Bruce Poon Tip

Bruce Poon Tip is founder of Gap Adventures, a widely successful adventure travel company based out of Toronto. Not only has Poon Tip made a name for himself and his company at home and overseas, he's helping spread the word that Toronto is not only a great place to live, but is also a city to seek adventure. Last week I caught up with the busy traveler just before he hopped on a plane for another adventure-plotting business trip.

What made you decide to found an adventure travel company?

Well, when I started Gap Adventures in 1990, there were few travel options. It was before the Internet so people researched their travel plans very differently. At the time, the only choices were resorts, cruises and coach tours, so I thought there must be other people in the world that would want more grassroots cultural experiences.

Why headquarter it in Toronto? What does the city offer a business owner that other cities around the world may not?

Toronto is a great city for any business. Besides being a great city to recruit talent, it is a world class city that is clean, safe and easy to get around. There are a lot of head offices of tourist boards, airlines and other tourism companies based here. Also, Toronto is a great hub to fly to Asia, Europe or Latin America. I think it is a great blend of a large, world class city and a safe, clean place with a great quality of life.

Do you think the people of Toronto are an outgoing, adventurous bunch?

I think the complexion of Toronto in an adventurous sense is growing. There are more and more people who are choosing outdoor lifestyles and seeking cultural experiences, so that works well for us as a holiday company that specializes in showing people the world from a people perspective.

Bruce Poon Tip

You travel a lot as part of your job. What's the best part about coming back to the Big Smoke?

I do travel a lot, but the best thing about coming back is obviously my family. This is our home and it is always great to come back and feel that sense of comfort. I also like to take advantage of the multicultural dining and great diversity the city offers. I like the easy availability of the more active side of my lifestyle, such as having a choice of yoga studios and local sports leagues I play in or spending the weekends playing beach volleyball down at Ashbridges Bay with friends or in a tournament in the summer.

What's the most adventurous thing you've done in this city?

That would have to be closing down our office and cleaning up the streets of Toronto for Earth Day. We make it a competition with our people by placing them in assigned teams. Last year, as a company, we built and planted a garden in a low-income area that needed a green space for kids to play in near the surrounding park. It just so happens it was pouring last year, so it turned out to be a bit more challenging. But, everyone in the company was really committed to the project and we got it done!

If you were in a foreign country, how would you convince someone to visit Canada?

I think Canada sells itself. We are known around the world for our natural beauty and warm people. I think if I was to say anything, I would sell people on our diversity and the cultural richness of our country. Our First Nations people, French history and Maritime charm. I don't think people always think of us outside of our natural assets.

When you're in the city, what's your ideal way to spend an afternoon?

Well, the ideal afternoon for me starts with a Hot Yoga class at one of the many schools in the city. Then a weekend festival at Harbourfront or a nearby park. I also like shopping at St. Lawrence Market or hanging out in Kensington Market with all the people. Then I would finding an interesting place for dinner. You could also find me at the ACC catching a Raptors or Leafs game... even a concert.


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