Brian Mullis - Founder Sustainable Travel International

In this interview, Sustainable Travel International (STI) founder Brian Mullis – a proud father of two children from the Gambela Region of Ethiopia – reflects on over 13 years dedicated to promoting sustainability across the tourism value chain.

Learn about:

  • When Brian Mullis discovered his passion for sustainable tourism;
  • How tourism can drive the protection of our natural heritage;
  • Why he founded Sustainable Travel International in 2002, and the organization’s impact since then;
  • How his view of sustainable tourism has changed since he started STI;
  • What successful sustainable tourism actually means;
  • The best way to measure sustainability in travel and tourism;
  • His main insights and “aha moments” as leader in the sustainable tourism field;
  • Examples of destinations particularly successful in implementing sustainable tourism policies and practices;
  • Which sustainability areas destinations struggle most with;
  • His (career) advice to newcomers to sustainable tourism.

Brian, when did you discover your passion for sustainable tourism?

I began my career working in national parks in the United States – first as a dish washer in Yellowstone, and later as a line cook and a part-time guide. There, I learned that tourism can drive the protection of our natural heritage.

Later, I owned and operated an international adventure and eco-travel company for eight years. While we made a concerted effort to adhere to the tenets of ecotourism, I realized I could potentially have a much greater impact in mainstreaming sustainability through another means.

I first considered getting another graduate degree, but then decided to follow Paul Hawken’s advice: “Just get started.”

Why did you found Sustainable Travel International back in 2002?

I incorporated Sustainable Travel International in September of 2002 to create simple tools that could be replicated, contextualized and scaled up across tourism businesses and destinations.

Interview with Brian Mullis, Founder Sustainable Travel International
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