Yesterday morning I set off for the train to Newcastle, where I was going to attend my first ETOG meeting. ETOG is the Ethical Tour Operators’ Group of Tourism Concern – a group of small and medium sized tour operators, who work together to maintain a dialogue and create tools to help overcome the challenges of ethical tourism.
I had booked a train ticket to Newcastle, and went to the station to pick it up in the morning, just before the train left. That was the plan, anyway. The thing I missed was: The credit card I had used to pay for the ticket was safely locked in the office, a 45 minute bus ride from the station. #Fail. There goes the cheap train fare, I had to buy another return ticket, as there was no way to collect the ticket without the correct credit card.
In Newcastle I took the chance to explore a bit of the city, before I had to head to the meeting. Quayside with the bridges and the Sage, the High Bridge and the Black Gate I found were particularly impressive, I also enjoyed strolling through the Grainger Market.
At 1pm the meeting started. Set in the beautiful Ouseburn Farm I met delegates from Activities Abroad, Saddle Skedaddle, Safari Consultants, IntoAfrica , the founder of Tourism Concern Alison Stancliffe, Jenny Rogers and Will Wright of Tourism Concern, and a tourism lecturer from Northumbria University. Main topics of the day were a Social Impact Assessment for suppliers and a code of practice for volunteering programmes.
The meeting showed that tour operators meet similar challenges in all destinations. Discussions and exchange of ideas brought up some good ideas of how to deal with them. The meeting was a good opportunity to make friends with other businesses and I’m now equipped with new ideas and even more motivated to ensure our holidays are as ethical and beneficial to the host communities as possible!
The day concluded with drinks and enjoying a short spell of sun in between the rains just when the official part of the day had ended.