When high street retailers were slammed for accepting sweat shop labour to keep prices low, there was general revulsion that we could be unwittingly accepting those conditions as we bought a pair of trainers. But ignorance is no defence and there is a new expectation from shoppers. They may not want worthy sustainable messages forced down their throats at every moment but they do want to know the industry they are buying from has done what it can to ensure it's buying a fair product.
That's why a championing charity such as Tourism Concern is such a vital heart beat of our industry. Unlike a shoe manufacturer, many travel companies don't own and create one product. But there may be many connections or influences the industry can bring to bear to improve the world that it does touch on. Tourism Concern is the voice of people around the world our industry may be affecting, often unwittingly, but the voice of people we can also help. When travel companies couldn't sell Bali because of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice it was a commercial problem. But for the people of Bali it was an economic catastrophe. Commercial representations to FCO had no affect. Tourism Concern's campaign did and the FCO completely changed the way it gathers and presents advisories.
That change will help many tourist boards, many people and many travel companies in future.
So I believe we need an independent championing charity asking difficult questions, challenging us to consider the way we think, to consider the way we run our businesses and the impact we have on the world. Independent championing charities are never going to be well funded. All charities struggle for core funding and the simple costs of employing people and renting space. In today's climate Tourism Concern like many organisations is now developing a new funding strategy and you can help. Can you sign up to be one of 100 companies committing to help them?
If many of us contribute to protect the many this important voice can continue to inspire us.