Meet Salli Felton, CEO of the Travel Foundation, an independent charity that brings together public, private and third sector tourism stakeholders to develop practical solutions that maximise the benefits and minimise the negative impacts of tourism in destinations.
Salli – a trained environmental biologist originally from Australia – forms part of a new generation of NGO leaders who prioritize collaboration, rather than condemnation, in working toward a more sustainable tourism.
- What brought Salli Felton to the world of sustainability;
- Which books she enjoyed reading;
- How her view on sustainable tourism has changed over time;
- Whether she believes that sustainable tourism ‘think’ has become mainstream;
- Why Salli decided to lead the Travel Foundation, and the organization’s vision;
- Where she sees the main challenges for sustainable travel and tourism;
- The best way to measure the success of sustainability initiatives.
Salli, when did you first get in touch with sustainable tourism?
It has always been a part of my psyche. Growing up in Australia, I spent early holidays with my family hiking, boating and caravanning around the country.
We would camp on idyllic coastal headlands, explore wild rivers and rocky escarpments, look for wildlife and mix with the locals, taking home vivid memories of completely different ways of life.
The sustainability part just came naturally, the thought of leaving such special places slightly worse off as a result of my actions was unthinkable. Even as a child I only ever wanted to find ways for my visit to enrich them and for others to have the same experience.
When I came to the UK in 2008, the timing seemed right to combine the two passions in my life – travel and sustainability – and focus my career on sustainable tourism.
Working for BAA at Heathrow gave me new insights into aviation and airport handling, whilst my time at Virgin Holidays gave me a greater appreciation of how an international tour operator works. It was also where I was first introduced to the Travel Foundation.