So, this is the first of a series of interviews about responsible tourism supporters. Sara from sustainabletourismworld is going to start. I met Sara at the World Travel Market in London during a responsible tourism networking event and took the chance to ask her some questions about herself, her website and her passion for sustainable tourism. Enjoy reading it!
1. Sara, you have quite a professional background in and passion for sustainable tourism. Tell us more about you and why it became your passion.
For what I remember I always been fascinated by nature and traveling, thanks to my parents, mum in particular. I started traveling when I was 2 and my first experience without them (parents) was a holiday with WWF in Tuscany when I was 9. I took all the chance during teenage to go abroad (with the excuse to learn different languages). I went to a family stay organised by secondary school in France and I went to UK every year between 14 and 16. I live on Lake Como a beautiful area, I have seen many changes and not always positive, I always wanted to do something to help protect and develop my beautiful area. When I had to decide which university and job I wanted to I knew I loved to travel and I have a passion for everything related with environmental protection, ecology and human right. I studied tourism by not under the faculty of economy, but sociology and even if a bit too much theory I liked it and met for the first time the whole concept of sustainability.
2. You are blogging for quite some time now. How and why did you come up with the idea and what are you blogging about in particular?
My website come from a need I had when I was looking for information for my thesis. I could not find any website really useful to give me info about the sustainable tourism and what is possible to do as a sustainable tourism operator. I began to work on it at the same time I was writing my thesis and slowly I understood and improved my ideas. Also after my first work experience in Wales I wanted to keep a link with sustainability because I thought I could have to do a different work in the tourism sector. When I started in Italy people did not know so much about sustainability in tourism and there were no opportunities to start working in the sector, now is finally a bit different, I feel a pioneer in Italy even if I am aware the rest of the world is has already a different approach.
3. I read about many different projects and organizations on your blog. Do organizations contact you or do you contact them when it comes to cooperation. What kind of organizations are they?
I have started publishing and sharing info from my work experience with the team of Dyfi Biosphere Reserve in Wales, the subject of my thesis and experience from friends and university’s colleagues. After a while I have started being followed through social media by organisations, tourism operators and students. Nowadays is balanced, I generally prefer being contacted but if I meet interesting organisations online or during a travel or a project I am happy to give them a space on STW. The organisations I am more interested in are no profit and onlus working for sustainable development which includes tourism as key project for a wider sustainable development strategy. I have decided to offer to no profit organisations free of charge space in STW if they manage it by themselves. I give the opportunity to be promoted on STW to no profit and business asking for a small fee, I generally ask to visit the place for an article for a business that wants to be presented or if this is not possible to give me as many infos as possible and to exchange visibility online.
4. I like your blog and it seems you are putting a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it. What did you achieve with your blog for yourself – did it turn out as you wished? How long did it take to be what it is today? Tell a bit about the long way and what people gain from reading it?
The website is the result of my experiences as sustainable tourism and social media consultant, personal experiences as a tourist and suggestions from readers, collaborators and friends. It has becoming a place where people can discuss and share about sustainability and tourism and my greatest hope for the future is to see it grow and become a reference for people interested in sustainability and sustainable tourism.
I have started it as blog at the end of November 2011, after graduation. I changed my mind many times about it, I wanted it to be the reference of a no profit organisation but it turned out to be a good way to show my professional path, my experience and my strong passion on sustainability and tourism. Thanks to STW I obtained the works in North Devon and Australia (Andrew and Tony have been impressed by my passion about sustainability and my abilities with blogging, website management and social media).
I wanted it to be interesting for students and operators but also for tourists. Now I am focused on a more selected target: operators, organisations, students, which are potential clients and like-minded people. I like to consider all of them supporters or fan of a different kind of tourism.
Reading my website you will be inspired by projects, organisations and operators. I keep update it with the best tips I can share, I host “how to” section, “books advice” sections, jobs and volunteers sections (but is better to follow my twitter account for updates), I also have suggestions on travels and best practice to make your life greener :)
Thanks a lot Sara for being so great to give us a good insight and to isnpire us with you work. If you would like to know more about her and her mission of life, make sure you follow her on twitter and check out her sustainable tourism world.