Washington D.C. –Sustainable Travel International announced changes to its leadership team, adapting to a changing landscape for the tourism industry and cause-based organizations. These changes come as the non-profit organization takes the next step in its own evolution, driven by a goal to positively impact the lives of at least 10 million residents and their families in destinations around the world with and through its partners over the next 10 years.
Effective April 1, 2015, Founder Brian T. Mullis will be Sustainable Travel International’s new Chairman of the Board, and Dr. Louise Twining-Ward will take Mullis’ place as CEO. Mullis has always nurtured a senior leadership team and will work closely with Twining-Ward to expand the organization’s ability to harness the power of travel and tourism as a force for global good.
“We’re at an inflection point in our history. The urgency for transformative solutions and outcomes has never been greater,” Mullis said. “Poorly managed tourism is a threat to the environment, cultures, and landscapes on which it depends. But when carefully managed, tourism not only creates economic growth and wealth, it can enrich lives, strengthen communities, and protect our natural and cultural heritage.”
Twining-Ward added, “Now more than ever we need a shared cause that the travel and tourism industry can rally behind and support. We look forward to working with other industry leaders to redefine travel and tourism as a force for good through our collective efforts.”
After owning and operating a leading tour operator business for nearly a decade, Mullis conceived of Sustainable Travel International in 2002. His vision was an organization that would “mainstream sustainability in tourism through the development of practical, replicable tools that can be contextualized and scaled” in order to create greater wellbeing for tourism host communities and help protect their sense of place. Sustainable Travel International is now based in Washington, D.C. with an annual budget of $2.4 million, a full time staff of 12, and a global network of NGO, government, and private sector partners.
Among other innovations during Mullis’ tenure, Sustainable Travel International developed one of the first cross-sector sustainable tourism standards, created some of the first carbon calculators and destination level travel philanthropy programs for travel and tourism, led the development of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s destination criteria, and established integrated tools for regional and global collaborative initiatives, which have been implemented in nearly 100 destinations worldwide.
Looking to the future, Mullis will work with the Executive Board and Twining-Ward to grow the impacts of the organization and its partners through global and regional initiatives, and help to tell the hopeful story of how tourism can positively impact people’s lives and protect places.
“In the public’s view, travel and tourism is not associated with social change,” Mullis commented, “but with billions of people traveling internationally and domestically each year, there are billions of opportunities to improve livelihoods, protect biodiversity, and promote a deeper understanding of the world.”
The landscape for tourism development and cause-based organizations is changing rapidly as UN agencies and donors shift to mission- and outcome-oriented programmatic investments that achieve sustained impact, and multinationals look for social and environmental, as well as financial, returns on their investments in corporate responsibility.
“One of the greatest tools to change the world is to leverage the power of tourism by creatively linking locally-owned and community-based enterprises to meet the growing global demand for authentic destinations and quality experiences,” shared Jamie Sweeting, President of Planeterra Foundation, Vice President of Sustainability at G Adventures, and Sustainable Travel International’s current Chairman of the Board.
Dr. Twining-Ward, who will now lead the organization, has been with Sustainable Travel International for five years. Sustainable Travel International’s Executive Board praised Twining-Ward as a progressive leader with a deep understanding of the industry, and the drive to help the organization achieve its goal to positively impact at least 10 million lives in 10 years.
“Louise is widely respected as a leader in her field. She has been a driver of innovation and change at Sustainable Travel International, and has helped Brian pioneer the organization’s award-winning tools and approaches to improve social, economic and environmental decision-making and destination-level sustainability,” Sweeting said. Twining-Ward, a sustainable tourism specialist by training, has served as Sustainable Travel International’s President since 2012, and was previously Chief Technical Officer. Twining-Ward received her Ph.D. in Sustainable Tourism from the University of Surrey.
Twining-Ward added: “I am excited about the opportunity to lead a group of passionate individuals who are helping to inspire positive change in the world through tourism. The sustainable tourism movement is at a tipping point. Our role is to inspire collective action in order to harness tourism as a force for good.”