The weather was scorching and I’d spent the day cooped up in the backseat of a car bumping along dusty roads in Accra, the capital of Ghana, meeting project stakeholders.
All I wanted was to relax with a nice cold beer and take a refreshing shower. But I couldn’t – there wasn’t any water available at that time of the day.
Water shortage was a big problem in Accra, leading to the authorities restricting access at certain times, and it was a problem made worse by the development of a new golf resort which used gallons of precious water each day to keep its greens, well, green!
It seemed so unfair to drive past acres of lush grass, closed off to all but visiting hotel guests and the wealthy elite, whilst parts of the city struggled to have enough water for daily life.
It was the first time I’d experienced first-hand the negative impacts that tourism could have on communities that often don’t have a say in what developments spring up around them, and who often don’t see any benefits trickle down.
This experience sparked my interest in making tourism more sustainable and developers more responsible for the destinations they work in. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited to have recently joined the Travel Foundation and be working on projects that bring about real change in destinations.
During my first weeks in the job I’ve been inspired by stories about the lasting impact we’ve had around the world: providing access to tourism markets for local Turkish farmers, encouraging sustainable excursions around the islands of Cape Verde, and providing local women with the opportunity to sell natural honey products to hotels in Mexico.
These programmes don’t only benefit the local communities, but provide models for how sustainable tourism can be done – and these models can be replicated by the travel industry worldwide.
The enthusiasm and energy of the team both here and in destinations around the world is amazing, and I’ve been really impressed by the thorough, evidence-led approach taken with each programme. It’s great to see new opportunities on the horizon such as potential projects to reduce the carbon footprint of tourism in the Caribbean and Africa, and I can’t wait to get stuck in!
– Clare Fussell, Destinations Programme Manager