The co-founder of Green & Black’s has urged the travel industry to capitalise on a mindset change among consumers on sustainability.
Jo Fairley, who co-founded the ethical and organic chocolate brand with husband Craig Sams in 1994 and sold it to Cadbury in 2007, praised Abta’s new Tourism for Good report for pushing the industry in the right direction.
Speaking at The Travel Convention’s Tourism for Good workshop, she said: “This [report] is music to my ears. This is the time for the travel industry to capitalise on a major shift in mindset. People are looking for products, organisations and brands that show they care for people and for the planet.
“We want to travel but we want to know it is being done sensitively by engaging with the communities we travel to. [The motto] ‘take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints’ has never been more true than now.”
Green & Black’s worked with a travel agent in its early days to run eco-trips to the one of company’s source markets Belize in central America, she recalled. “We got some unforgettable experiences and it was welcome extra income for these families in the developing world.”
She believes these types of travel experiences will now enjoy a broader appeal among today’s consumers.
She said: “I think these sorts of opportunities are really going to appeal hugely to what we see as a much more adventurous traveller now.
“We have just come through a period where we spent more time outdoors than ever [during lockdown] and what people are looking for now is adventures that are more real and more meaningful.
“There is nothing more rewarding in the world than knowing you have done something to lift up people in the developing world.”
But companies have to invest in the right product she said, pointing out that Green & Black’s success was not down to the fact it was ethical or organic, but because “we had a product that was delicious and beautifully packaged”.
She added: “A great product has to be the number one consideration; then you have an incredibly powerful platform to convey messages.”
Fairley said her proudest achievement at Green & Black’s – which she set up using her ‘nest egg’ of £20,000 – was when the Fairtrade mark was first used on the company’s chocolates, a market now worth around £1.6 billion a year.
“If we have played a little role in that it’s a legacy I am very happy with,” she said.
And she urged travel firms to recognise the importance of a social and environmental footprint, adding: “More people want to work for an organisation with strong social and environmental values and it’s proving to help [customer] engagement.”
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