|Tui and Mimi get ready to network at the World Travel Market.|
Four members of the Andaman Discoveries team traveled to London in November to attend this year’s World Travel Market. The WTM is a four-day travel industry event that provides a unique opportunity for the whole global travel industry to meet, network, and discuss developments in the travel industry. Additionally, the event allowed us to honor our longstanding ties to UK. “Many of our visitors are British, so I feel honored to be in London,” said Andaman Discoveries Director Tui Chomphusri, “and I hope that the travel industry can learn from our example – that responsible tourism should make a real difference in people’s lives.”
|L-R: Erik, Mimi, Senior Tourism consultant Nicole Häusler, Tui, and Bodhi at the Excel Centre in London.|
The team enjoyed a productive week that included scores of meetings, commendation from the Virgin Holidays Responsible Travel Awards, a gala dinner hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (attended by HRH Princess Ubol Ratana), and an exclusive meeting with the UK Minister of the environment (see below). The team received valuable input from numerous travel agents and responsible tourism experts, including Xavier Font of Leeds Metropolitan University and Nicole Häusler (pictured) from the International Centre for Responsible Tourism in Germany.
This was the first time in London for most member of the team, and we allocated some time to explore the famous city and have fun! We watched fireworks over the River Thames in honor of Remembrance Day, took in a symphony, and marveled at the imposing Gothic façade of the Parliament building. We were also fortunate enough to meet up with some former volunteers, including Charlotte Johnson, whose early efforts were critical in pioneering Andaman Discoveries, and Ben Dwyer, to whom the handicraft program owes much of its current success. We also reconnected with several volunteers from the 2007 University of Birmingham study group.
That’s all well and good, but the highlight of the trip for Tui? Getting her first glimpse of snow!
We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to meet with us in London, the SEED Initiative for helping finance the trip, and Alex from POD for the use of his SIM card. Most of all we’d like to acknowledge the first-class hospitality of Tim and Sarah Daniel, parents of volunteer extraordinaire Olivia Daniel, who hosted us for a week at their beautiful home in Putney. Over the years Andaman Discoveries has been privileged to have such kind and caring people in our corner. Thank you – we couldn’t exist without you.