By Anne Majumdar08 Feb 2017With sustainable tourism fast climbing the travel and tourism agenda, we’re discussing the topic with travel industry leaders and change makers on how they think we can #Traveltochangetheworld. In the first of our ongoing ‘Travel to change the world’ interviews, David Hosking of The Travel Corporation shares his thoughts and ideas on how we can all do our bit to sustain the industry and leave a legacy of goodness. What was it that inspired you to join the travel industry? Winning the 2015 World Tourism Award at WTM London. L to R: David Hosking, Director, TreadRight Foundation; Céline Cousteau, TreadRight Ambassador; Brett Tollman, CEO, The Travel Corporation I joined the travel industry in 1975. I’m a Kiwi and liked living on the road so I started out as a driver for Contiki and just loved the travelling – I’ve stayed a gypsy ever since. What concerns you about the industry today in terms of its long-term viability? Of course there are certain geopolitical events and situations where the industry needs to adapt and change but I think travel’s viability and long-term future is fine. People have a very strong desire to travel but they don’t have to travel. We’re in the want business, not the need business. If you’ve got a breadth of products in different parts of the world and are able to offer the travelling public options that interest them, that have an environmental footprint and sustainability around them, all those aspects, then they will travel. Do you think travel can change the world? The short answer is yes – I don’t think it can, I think it does and it has. Travel can be disruptive so I think it needs to be done sensitively and I think it does needs to be done (and increasingly is) in consultation with the countries you are travelling through. But the economic benefits are significant so long as they’re widespread. I absolutely believe that travel can be a force for good and never more so that in the world we see today with the various polarising events that are going on. Those who have travelled, and I’m a perfect example, come home with a different view. There’s a difference between someone taking a holiday and someone really travelling. For example, you can go for a holiday to a short term destination like the Gold Coast or New Zealand. But people who like to travel like to experience other cultures and societies come back different, without a doubt. So it’s incumbent on us to increasingly tie into our offerings the opportunity to be more engaged in the countries we visit. Travel is absolutely a force for good and for change but it needs to be sustainable, needs to understand the environment and it needs to be sensitive to the cultures of the countries it travels to. Are you seeing positive change happening in the industry that you really admire? Treadright Heritage Initiative, Laboratorio Giuditta Brozzetti, Perugia, Italy People are increasingly looking at travel and tying it to either a cause, a purpose or voluntourism. They get involved in things now and think about life differently – such as the way they want to travel, the food they want to eat and how they impact the world through travel. It’s definitely changing. If you go back 30 years in this country and look at the restaurants, it’s totally different now. That’s because the people see things overseas and they bring them back here. The diversity of world food has been a big driver of inspiration The coffee in Australia is another example – go back 30 years and it was hard to get a good coffee in Australia but now it’s hard to get a bad one. It’s about improving your own country by taking the good that you see overseas. Its impact and the benefits are significant. If you think about how Australia is today, it’s not just because of immigration but because of how people travel. Some people come to back to Australia, their home country, with great ideas that they’ve seen work overseas. It changes the way they think when they’re back home and that’s a good thing. What projects is TTC undertaking in this space? Treadright’s Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco People look to us increasingly for how we travel – not just where we travel but how we do it. I think that’s important and I think good brands do that and talk about it. But you can’t just talk about it, you’ve got to be able to show it and prove it. Our model has been to do that internally with our own funds through Treadright. We also have our own internal CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) philosophy across our offices in terms of our office administration footprint – it’s slightly different to Treadright but part of the same thing. From the ownership down in our organisation, there’s an absolute commitment there. Treadright Wildlife SOS, India We put serious money into projects – that’s the reality. If you don’t put serious money behind it, you will not be serious – it’s that simple. But then there are the benefits – by doing this well, you can grow your brand because people will see what you are doing and that’s important. It’s subtle, it’s a secondary aspect of doing it properly, but doing it properly has benefits across the board. But to do it properly requires money, time and commitment in terms of hours and people – we have full-time people committed to it, a lot of the organisation is involved and we back it with serious money. What do you think is the biggest challenge the industry faces in terms of the issue of ’sustaining’ itself? Treadright undertakes the Wilderness Foundation in Africa Probably education – in the world we live in today, some countries are further advanced than others. The big challenge is trying to ensure that those countries, particularly those that are new to tourism, are able to learn from other countries how to develop in a way that is sustainable and take a long-term view rather than a short-term view. I think some countries out there are very good at protecting their heritage sites and in their sustainability policies, and others that are opening up sometimes have lessons to learn. So, the ability for those who understand it to teach those who have the opportunity is certainly something the UNWTO’s Year of Sustainability ought to be about – educating, helping, ensuring all ships ride on the sustainable tide and take a long-term view. Find out more about the Travel Corporation’s impressive range of sustainable projects on the Treadright site. This story is part of our 2017 ‘Travel to change the world’ initiative. You can help by sharing this story to raise awareness and using the hashtag #traveltochangetheworld when you see good will or sustainable initiatives in travel. Do you believe travel can change the world for the better? Share your thoughts below. Other stories you may like Adventure travel now comes with a generous side of warm fuzzies Bruce Poon Tip, Founder G Adventures: Travel to change the world So is the end actually in sight for orphanage tourism?