What positive impacts do you feel travel makes on the world?
Travel can change lives and attitudes and, most importantly, build bridges between people and be a positive force for understanding.
I believe passionately that sustainable tourism offers the best hope of protecting endangered places and insuring local communities continue to benefit from their natural heritage, by creating jobs, providing educational opportunities and introducing guests to projects that alleviate poverty, foster environmental stewardship and preserve cultures.
In relation to these benefits, how has the industry changed since the founding of Abercrombie & Kent in 1962?
There is a much greater focus today on insuring that tourism directly benefits the local population to give them a stake in protecting the environment and the wildlife that depends on it. As an industry, we have realized the importance of integrating sustainable practices into a triple bottom line of environmental, economic, and social responsibility.
Abercrombie & Kent is a big advocate of responsible tourism — what exactly are your company’s commitments to protection of culture and the environment?
The foundation of Abercrombie & Kent is working in partnership with local communities to protect and preserve the cultures, wildlife and ecosystems in the countries where we operate. By establishing local destination management companies, we invest in countries by hiring and training local staff, purchasing equipment and building the infrastructure needed for sustainable tourism. We provide job opportunities to more than 2,500 people.
Our local staff work in partnership with grassroots organizations to protect wildlife and the environment; support hospitals, schools and orphanages; and provide education, meals and shelter to impoverished children.
What can governments do to ensure travel and tourism has more of a positive impact on the world?
Consider travel and tourism a form of community development assistance and establish guidelines that meet international standards. Sustainable tourism applies the principles of environmentally friendly operations, protecting cultural and natural heritage and providing direct social and economic benefits for local people, and increasingly for entire countries, in what is known as “destination stewardship.”
As the Founder, Chairman and CEO of the Abercrombie & Kent Group of Companies, Geoffrey Kent brings a truly extraordinary lifetime of experience, innovation and genuine passion to the world’s most exclusive luxury adventure travel corporation. Under the direction of Geoffrey Kent, Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) operates over 50 global offices, offering 350 tours and expeditions in more than 100 countries across seven continents. Following service in the British Army in the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards in such countries as Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Libya and Malta, Geoffrey joined his parents in founding Abercrombie & Kent as a luxury safari operation. By 1967, the elder Kent retired and the younger son moved into turning A&K into the internationally renowned luxury travel powerhouse that it is today. The Kent formula of providing a “luxury cocoon” from which to explore the world has attracted more than 200,000 clients per annum.