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Travel Leaders: Sarah Anderson, founder and Managing Director, GTI Tourism

Sarah Anderson doesn't just talk the talk; she walks the walk when it comes to pushing for regenerative tourism. We caught up with Sarah to talk about travel leadership for a new era and what to do when life serves you lemons.

Sarah Anderson doesn’t just talk the talk; she walks the walk when it comes to pushing for regenerative tourism. We caught up with Sarah to talk about travel leadership for a new era and what to do when life serves you lemons.

Sarah Anderson is the founder and Managing Director of GTI Tourism, a Sydney based marketing and PR agency representing clients including Air Vanuatu, Good Vibes Fukuoka, Globus Family of Brands, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Park City, Singapore Tourism Board, Texas Tourism, Vanuatu Tourism Office and Visit Seattle.

Previously, Sarah has served as a Committee Member of the Council of Australian Tour Operators and as Chair of the Association of National Tourist Office Representatives.

This year she undertook the Professional Certificate in Sustainable Tourism and is a member of the Greenpeace General Assembly and the Catalyst 2030 Tourism Working Group.

Before setting up GTI almost 16 years ago, Sarah was the in-house Communications Manager for The Travel Corporation and Marketing Manager for Contiki.

What’s happening in your business at the moment, and how does the forthcoming period look?

Fukuoka, Japan

The outlook in the tourism industry has never been more exciting. As we emerge from the pandemic, people and organisations are re-energised. There are opportunities to be more innovative, to build back better.

I love the fast pace of change where there’s an opportunity to reassess old ways and craft the future.

What are you excited about right now?

Sarah at the recent launch of Avalon View in Bratislava

Travelling again is a real bonus! I’ve just returned from the industry launch of Avalon Waterways’new ship Avalon View in Europe. It was wonderful to see how excited people in these host countries are to welcome travellers again.

At GTI, we are busy promoting great US destinations like New York State and Park City. We are seeing people book for 2022 and 2023, which is fantastic.

In Q3 & Q4, we expect to be launching campaigns for Las Vegas, Seattle and Texas, so things are ramping up again. I’m also buzzing that from 1 July, we can all travel to Vanuatu again, which holds a special place in my heart. 

What are the biggest challenges right now for travel?

The biggest challenge is the unpredictability of the pandemic on people’s travel plans. It’s great to see travel insurance now covering Covid claims and booking conditions remaining flexible.

What about the biggest opportunities?

Visit Park City

Australians are changing the way they travel, and this means there are enormous opportunities for destinations and tour operators to launch new travel products with cleverly integrated marketing activity.

As a leader yourself, how important is leadership right now? And what does/should good leadership look like?

At the Hermitage Museum, Vienna, with Avalon Waterways

The world markets are faced with so many challenges: economically, politically, and environmentally. We are going to need good leadership!

I admire leaders who set an ambitious vision for the future that focuses on people, the planet, and profit.

In tourism, we have a role in regenerating the planet, making up for the many years of degradation of culture and the environment.

Our world needs regenerating, and we have a lot of work to do.

The good news is that tourism is well placed to shift towards regeneration. Strong leaders are considering these issues and how they can positively impact the communities they visit.

What would you like to see change?

GTI Team Circa March 2019 Sydney Climate March

I would like to see more companies following the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria to assess the impact their destination, hotel or tour operation has and make plans for improvement.

In terms of marketing, the pandemic has required more flexibility and agility in campaign planning. This is something to carry forward. To keep up with ever-changing consumer interests and platforms, you need to be able to jump on trends and pivot quickly.

How key is collaboration in the industry?

Blue Hole Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

Collaboration is everything! At GTI, we work as part of our clients and our trade partners, media partners, and brand partners underpin so much of our marketing activity.

Do you think enough emphasis is being placed on sustainability in travel and addressing the climate crisis?

Tree planting at the carbon offset project in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

It’s great to see companies considering sustainability, but the focus needs to be on measurement, monitoring, and action in the areas that have the most impact on each organisation.

GTI is a signatory to the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism which seeks pledges from organisations to commit to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050.

You can find out more and sign up here.

What are your personal learnings from the past two years?

Photo by Olha Tatdot on Unsplash

Every challenge is an opportunity. If life serves you lemons, make margaritas.

What’s your message to the industry?

Vanuatu

From New York to Vanuatu, our clients worldwide rely heavily on the economic benefit Aussie travellers bring to their communities.

Thanks for your hard work to get travellers back travelling!

Sarah Anderson is the founder and Managing Director of GTI Tourism. You can find out more about Sarah or get in touch via her LinkedIn profile.