True to our mission to connect sustainable tourism thinkers, shakers and doers, today’s expert interview is with Anna Pollock, founder of the Conscious Travel website and movement. Anna Pollock’s thoughts on the future of (sustainable) tourism are a wake-up call which might be uncomfortable to some ears, but inevitable nevertheless.
- Why most philanthropic actions fail;
- Why, as force for good, tourism isn’t reaching its full potential;
- The main issues of the current tourism model;
- Why industrial, mass tourism isn’t all bad;
- The primary objective of her Conscious Travel initiative;
- How Anna Pollock’s sustainable tourism journey began, and her key insights so far;
- What she’d do differently, given the chance to start over.
Anna, when and where did your sustainable tourism journey begin; when did you discover your passion for sustainability?
I spent my childhood in Sussex, England, free to roam the downs and valleys where I felt very close to nature. I studied Geography at London University in the 1970s when Thomas Kuhn, Paul Ehrlich and Ernest Shumacher (Small is Beautiful) were writing and Limits to Growth was first published. During Christmas 1968, I watched the first “Earthrise” image on TV and, six months later on a geography field trip, my fellow students and I watched the first lunar landing.
As students, we sensed that a huge shift in consciousness would emerge as a result of that new perspective. It made a deep impression that ignited this passion to understand why humanity was behaving in a way that could ultimately be self-destructive.
What was your view of sustainable and responsible tourism when you first started your professional career?
My career in tourism began in 1974 in British Columbia, Canada, when tourism had just been identified as an “economic possibility’. As a researcher, I had the chance to undertake much of the foundational research in support of its development. Canada is a big and relatively empty country, so little thought was given into limits back then.