“I like to hope that my work has a positive effect for the environment and sustainability”, Ben Lynam.
What is your job about?
We are an independent charity that works with the travel and tourism industry towards a sustainable future, both for the industry and holiday destinations. We enable travel companies to protect the environment and create opportunities for local people in tourism destinations. Our main focus is from the mainstream holiday perspective and that is great because I think that’s where we can have the biggest impact. At the moment it has the biggest negative impact but it is also where we can have the biggest gains.
There is already a strong and passionate group of people who travel in a certain way, they might insist on eco lodges etc and that’s great. We are not quite in the same camp as that, we go more towards the mass tourism side, we want it to affect as many people as possible. We want to mainstream the whole idea and it’s an enlightened business thing to do. We also work with tourism businesses themselves and help them to incorporate sustainable practices.
What issues do you address?
- The countries that win awards for the cleanest greenest tourism are usually places like New Zealand and Scandinavian countries. Actually we want to address this for the most mainstream places and make it the norm rather than a niche market
- Collective ownership and responsibility
- We are targeting attitudes on tourism, we want to make tourism work in a way which is best and sustainable for everyone
What moved you to take action?
There were initial links to the Rio+10 and there were a few agreements around tourism made there and that led to the establishment of the Travel Foundation. I think is very important to embed changes into the mainstream and I think that the Travel Foundation has the right approach.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
- I have been at the foundation for the last two and half years. From what people tell me when the foundation started out it was very much the feeling of banging your head against the wall. We really had to start from zero
- The tourism industry can be quite complicated
- When the foundation started out people were not so aware of the issues tourism posed. There were more people who just did not get what we were doing
What helped you keep going in hard times?
I think our stories and the people we worked with who did get it really helped this.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
I was worried as a child about environmental issues, I remember being unable to believe the issues that were going on. I went on to work for the department of environment which really helped me to think about the issues and I have had a strong environmental focus ever since. Personally I think it is shocking that we will almost certainly leave this world in a worse condition that we found it. I like to hope that my work has a positive effect for the environment and sustainability.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?
8 – I love my family, my work and I love Bristol. I have a five month old baby so I’m feeling quite tired at the moment.