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People are our Priority say the Travel Foundation

Travel-FoundationCombating poverty and helping tourism benefit host communities is at the heart of the Travel Foundation work

The UK is unique in having an organisation like the Travel Foundation, formed by the travel industry and NGOs with the encouragement of the Government. Still unique, but not for long the model of a ulti-stakeholdercatalyst organisation to promote the travel industry sustainability is now being adopted by other countries in Europe and outside, who are consciously (and with our help and encouragement) copying the successful role played here in the UK by the Foundation.

So what makes the Travel Foundation a model worth adopting across the globe? Which aspects of the organisation are the key to its success? And what are our priorities now, especially as the ideof public awareness is starting to turn in favour of sustainability?

The first key aspect of the Foundation is that the travel industry main commercial players are fundamentally involved. We make no apology for being a artof the travel industry and having the industry as a artof us. The industry tour operators, travel retailers (high street and online), airlines and others control the ootprintof tourism from the UK, so it is only by change of and through the industry that a real effect will be felt worldwide. So we are not a campaigner on the sidelines, we are a resource for the travel industry: a means for change, an encouragement to change, and showing the way on how to change.

Secondly, our board of trustees also includes tourism NGOs and campaigners and sustainability experts. Their passion and focus helps us gradually move the entre of gravityof the whole sector towards a sustainable future. It is a constant process, often slow, but it is entrenched change of business practices we are after, and they do not happen overnight. Worthwhile change takes effort and patience.

The third aspect of our model I would mention is our approach to working locally in destinations. We do not import projects and simply impose them from outside; we prefer to work by establishing local partnerships a ulti-stakeholderapproach here at the sharp end too, which often literally means bringing together fishermen, farmers and hoteliers as well as their tourist office officials. Often we find that this is the first time these local stakeholders have ever communicated with each other. Farmers, for instance, have often never been considered (or considered themselves) as stakeholders in tourism before. Yet as part of the ost communitythey should benefit from tourism economic input. With our help, they put themselves in a position to start to do so.

Indeed, making sure that tourism benefits host communities is at the heart of what the Travel Foundation is all about. Our three priority areas are People, Environment and Education and eopleare first. Tourism is the world biggest global industry, and is a unique form of trade in being largely free of the ariff barrierswhich often prevent poor communities trading themselves out of poverty. We want to see it maximise its potential in alleviating poverty, and conserving traditional ways of life and craft skills amongst the world poorest communities.

I appeal to any travel professional reading this who is not yet in touch with us join our Forum, help raise funds for our work (over a million holidaymakers currently contribute 50p to ?1 each when booking though our industry partners), and contact us to discuss how we can help you change your business to secure a sustainable future, and how you can help us replicate valuable projects in destination communities.

David Weston
The Travel Foundation


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Categories: ProPoor Tourism


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