Fiona Jeffery, chair of the World Travel and Tourism Council Tourism for Tomorrow awards, in this interview shares her tourism and sustainability story – how it all started, and why she has recently moved from leading the tourism trade fair WTM to supporting the water charity Just a Drop.
- Where Fiona Jeffery sees the priorities for sustainability in business;
- How being a mother has influenced her view on sustainable tourism;
- Why she launched the World Responsible Tourism Day back in 2007;
- Why she founded water aid charity Just a Drop, and how it helps communities;
- Fiona’s advice for newcomers to sustainable tourism;
- How the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Award benefits proactive businesses.
Fiona, as a business person, what was your view on the importance of sustainability in travel and tourism when you started your professional career?
When I started in the industry, it wasn’t really on my radar, but when I took over World Travel Market in 1994 I simply felt that unless as an industry we protected the very product we were seeking to promote, we’d eventually destroy our own business model. So I created Environmental Awareness Day in 1996, which attracted about 30 people and was a side-show in a room.
Now called World Responsible Tourism Day, it has become a core pillar of the World Travel Market, and attracts the largest gathering of responsible tourism professionals in the world, with over 3,000 attending its 4 day educational programme.
From your experience as tourism business and marketing executive, where do you see the priorities in terms of sustainability?
There are many but community wellbeing, wildlife protection, environmental protection and climate change, and its impact on water resources all feature. More education is needed for things to change.
Sustainability has to be something that should be built into tourism businesses’ training programmes. It should be seen as that important.
In the same way as you receive sales or marketing training on the job, you should understand what is meant by sustainable tourism practises, what this involves, and have updates on new strategies and developments to improve your personal and business impact.
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