Meet Carole Favre, independent tourism consultant, sustainability advocate, entrepreneur, mentor and facilitator. Carole’s professional journey – like that of many of her colleagues working towards a more sustainable tourism – is remarkable. In this interview, she tells us about her hopes and challenges and why, despite serious setbacks, she has never given up believing in the future and to realize her dreams.
- Key lessons Carole Favre has learned throughout her very diverse career;
- An insider’s take on the Sustainable Tourism community and its flaws;
- Key challenges entrepreneurs and destinations face right now regarding sustainability;
- 7 criteria which make a sustainable tourism award worth applying for;
- Tips for sustainable tourism entrepreneurs on how to get started and then keep momentum.
Carole, your professional journey began in education and retail – do you remember what triggered your interest in focusing your career on tourism and sustainability? And your thoughts/view or expectations back then?
What triggered my career in tourism was utter desperation! I had moved to the UK after 4 ½ years in Lithuania and could not find any work related to what I had done in the past, apart from a cleaner’s job in a B&B. I had to pause and assess what else I could do.
Since I speak four foreign languages fluently and had travelled to weird places in the old soviet bloc, I thought I might have a chance as a Travel Agent in a Student/Adventure specialist agency in London. Fed up with calling and getting nowhere I decided to ‘squat’ the sofa at reception until they gave me an appointment for an interview. It worked, and I got the job.
I then moved on to work for the Products Department but pay was dreadful. This prompted me to apply for a Lecturer in Tourism position closer to home. I got the job, qualified as a Teacher and completed another degree, this one a BA in Tourism Management. There was no planning, just a clear sense of urgency to find a job that involved some level of brain activity, because not having a job was just killing me. I guess I knew unconsciously that tourism was my calling!
After 10 years, and a relationship breakup, I ended up alone at Christmas and New Year. I decided it was time for an adventure and chose to travel to Ethiopia for two main reasons: first, it happens to be Michael Palin’s favourite destination and I adore him; second, being in my 40s, the images of the famine in Ethiopia still hunted me and I wanted to see how the country had changed, if it had at all.
I booked a tour with Tesfa, a great CBT project in the mountains of Lalibela, and immediately decided that I wanted to use my teaching skills and business experience to develop similar projects – I could see the impacts that tourist money was having on villages and how this was managed effectively by the communities themselves.
Back in the UK, I started an MA with the Open University in Conflict and Development, then was invited by Prof. Xavier Font to enrol on the MSc in Responsible Tourism Management in Leeds. I never imagined that I could have a Masters, let alone that the MSc would lead me to doing what I do today.