Stand up those who want to form a new tribe.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon ~ SHY Ventures
Wednesday, 12th April 2006
I am seriously considering applying to be a tribal member of a new "eco-democracy", which is in the early stages of being formed in the South Pacific, says Yeoh Siew Hoon.

The only thing holding me back is I am not an architect or doctor, and neither am I a fisherman, woodcarver, roofer or surf instructor.

True, their website, www.tribewanted.com, says everyone is welcome as long as you are over 18 but being born into a culture that has a serious work ethic, I'd hate to be a good-for-nothing and a burden to society especially when it comes to a chance to build my own empire.

But what attracts me to the idea is, well, the idea.

Two British 20-somethings, Ben Keene and Mark James, have come up with an idea that's a little bit like Survivor-meets-Lord of the Flies-meets-Woodstock.

They have rented an island called Vorovoro, which is 25 minutes from Fiji and they want to recruit 5,000 people to form a tribe to inhabit and develop it over the next three years.

For a fee ranging from £120 and £360, each person will be given visiting rights and a say in the way the island is run – one tribesman, one vote – a true democracy.

The fee covers all food and accommodation, but not the bar tab in case some tribe members turn out to be party animals.

The creators says it's "the chance to join a unique tribe and help build a new community, both physically and online".

What this means is that when you're not physically there  – you are allowed up to three weeks a year – you will be linked online to your tribe so that you can be part of its community affairs.

This will be no Shangri-La however – no fancy resorts with private villas and plunge pools. The aim is to build a sustainable ecological community from scratch. So broadband is about the only new thing they'll introduce to the island.

"The idea is to combine adventure travel with community development," says Ben Keene.

I hope this project flies. I mean, it's such a clever business idea. You get people to pay upfront to join, you promise them a slice of paradise – away from the urban rat race and corporate evil-dom, you give them a chance to create that paradise and you don't have to invest in any heavy infrastructure because it's all about being close to nature.

The only thing is, will it work? Can human beings confined to one isolated piece of Planet Earth really create Utopia or will the innate savagery of the human race, as seen in William Golding's Lord of the Flies or Alex Garland's The Beach, triumph?

Whatever, I reckon it's worth a go. If nothing else, it will be a good social experiment plus it should make these two boys a fortune and they deserve it for coming up with the idea.

So want to join me and become a Vorovoro-ite?

The SHY Report
A regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry by one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, Yeoh Siew Hoon.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her company's mission is "Content, Communication, Connection".

She is a writer, speaker, facilitator, trainer and events producer. She is also an author, having published "Around Asia In 1 Hr: Tales of Condoms, Chillies & Curries". Her motto is ‘free to do, and be'.

Contacts: Tel: 65-63424934, Mobile: 65-96801460

Check out Siew Hoon's new website, www.shy-connection.com, which features a newly-launched e-zine with a difference.
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