See the world under one roof! The biggest global travel market gathered for its 30th – and hopefully – the end of one the toughest years for the industry.
I carefully handpicked the people I was keen to catch up with and talks I was going to attend. The scale of the event means you can’t really just turn up at the WTM in London and make connections (except at the Trinidad & Tobago rum shack perhaps…), so here’s my top ten:
1. Sally Broom and team from Tripbod who organised the excellent Fringe Responsible Travel Network event. Tripbod connects travellers to local experts who can organise bespoke itinereries for you.
2. Also at the fringe I met Thomas from West African Discovery who is doing well building a portal to promote responsible tourism for one of my favourite regions of the world
3. There I also caught up with Richard Hammond, who recently co-authored the excellent Rough Guides to ‘Clean Breaks’, and is now developing is successful blog Green Traveller into more of a business.
4. Nick Chaffe from Travelpledge has created a new model for giving back to local projects in the destinations you visit. This has great potential and could take a lot of the administration hassle away from tour operators and travel start ups who want to set up foundations but get distracted by running their business.
5. Amy Carter-James from Guludo for winning best poverty reduction project at the Virgin Responsible Travel Awards. Guludo Beach resort in Mozambique is proving to be one the most successful eco tourism projects in terms of its social impact. There’s definitely some things we can learn from Guludo and apply on Vorovoro. Tribewanted narrowly missed the highly recommended category for ‘Conservation of Cultural Heritage’… but with an average of 200 nominations for each category I think we can be proud of being just off the podium. I was pleased to see Rivers Fiji being recognised. Congratulations to them.
6. Daniel Raven-Ellison from The Geography Collective heads a talented group of people who are creatively encouraging young people to engage with the world. Their projects: the Journey Journal & Mission: Explore and simple concepts that hope to get more kids re-connected with the essence of geography, evne f that means climbing a tree int he back garden.
7. A stunning video by Prince’s Rainforest Project @ the launch of Responsible Travel Day was brilliant and great to see focus on rainforest conservation. This led to a good debate on climate change and the travel industry’s role. The crux of the debate understandably centered around aviation emissions and whether they will be capped, regulated or changed to biofuels. Head of environment at BA had a tough set of questions to answer but appeared very committed to changes in the near future.
8. Guilliame Feldman from Way Out Experiences in Malaysia is turning fantastic tourism experiences into conservation of one my favourite beasts; Orangutans
9. Tom Griffiths from gapyear.com did a brilliant talk on youth travel trends and social media with one message: engage online or fail.
10. Finally I bumped into Tim Smit from the Eden Project in Cornwall who was at the WTM to launch an intriguing partnership with the Maldives to put together a plan for cultural and phsyical resilience in the face of climate change.
Feels like this year – because of the duel economic and environmental pressures – may have been a turnig point for the mainstreaming of responsible and youth tourism. It’s certainly growing rapidly every year. Talo!