Fiona Jeffery, chairman of World Travel Market and founder of Just a Drop, the international water aid charity for the travel and tourism industry, is on the biggest mission of her 20 year career. She aims to shake up travel companies by persuading them to stop talking about responsible tourism and taking direct action instead. “The talking has to stop and the action to make a difference to our planet must begin”, said Jeffery, who has been a passionate supporter of all things environmental for the past 15 years. “It’s very easy for a company to say that it is appalled by labour abuses and unsustainable practices but quite another to actually take the issue into the boardroom and do something constructive about it.” Jeffery, in association with the UNWTO and supported by leading international industry associations such as PATA and the World Travel & Tourism Council, is now into the second year of WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Day. It’s a mammoth long term global initiative that she describes as one of the most ambitious project she has ever undertaken.
WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, she explained, has come at the right time for the international industry. “Growing numbers of consumers are demanding that the travel industry gets its house in order and we need to demonstrate clearly that we are not only listening but are prepared to act. “Collectively, using direct action and supreme best practice, we can signal to consumers that the international industry cares deeply about a more sustainable world. In today’s global economy, a single voice will fall like a leaf in the wind. The industry must come together and speak with one loud voice.”
Jeffery and her team are planning a hard-hitting, programme on WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Day on Wednesday 12 November at ExCeL London with ‘Hard Talk’ when BBC World’s, Stephen Sackur will face a senior internationally known figure to examine how companies can change and play a more responsible role within the industry.
On the following day a half-day conference ‘The Business Case for Responsible Tourism will focus on how operators and hoteliers can translate responsible tourism profitability.