Innovator Spotlight: community backpacking heaven with Bulungula Lodge, South Africa

Of all the places I have visited, few have left as much of a mark on me as a remote lodge on South Africa's Wild Coast called Bulungula. It changed the way I think about responsible tourism in so many ways that the challenge is going to be packing them all in to a few hundred words... It dispelled the myth that eco / responsible tourism is expensive. Bulungula is offgrid, has solar showers, is local in all its sourcing and employment practices, and has one of the best views I have ever seen … [Read more...]

Bigger and better – a brief review of events at World Responsible Tourism Day 2013

Last week saw World Responsible Tourism Day 2013 move up a gear, with a record number of companies signing up to show their support. By the time the show opened on Monday 4th November, 185 companies had joined what is already the world's largest initiative dedicated to responsible tourism. They represented all different types of enterprises, from the very small to the very large, and across all sectors, from skiing to safari, bus companies to walking trails. And it wasn't just companies this … [Read more...]

Innovator Spotlight: Gandhi Legacy Tours follows footsteps of the Mahatma

It could be easy to be cynical about a tour professing to follow in the footsteps of the Mahatma. Our world is full of tourism packages cashing in on spurious associations with local icons. Thankfully, the Gandhi Legacy Tour is not one of those. To start with, it is run by Dr Arun Gandhi, the grandson of India's most famous campaigner for freedom and justice. And when I ask him why he runs these tours, his reply makes it clear he shares much of his grandfather's approach to life. “The purpose … [Read more...]

Innovator Spotlight: community tourism on Cuba’s remarkable organic urban farms

What does the idea of a Cuban holiday conjure up? Hanging out in bars in Havana, smoking the world's most famous cigars, and driving around in oversized old cars? Maybe heading to the beach? Probably drinking some rum, and listening to the music of Buena Vista Social club. These are the best known stories when it comes to this little understood island off the coast of Florida. Less so the idea of visiting an urban farm. Cuba Select Travel offers all manner of the better known delights. But it … [Read more...]

China’s Urban Billion – review of book on impact of Chinese leaving the countryside

Early on in his well-researched book, Tom Miller, the managing editor of China Economic Quarterly, lays out the scale of the problem confronting the country in which he has lived for over a decade. In 1980, fewer than 200 million of China's people lived in towns and cities. But just 30 years later, an additional 500 million – the equivalent of the combined populations of the US, UK, France and Italy – had upped sticks and left the countryside for the big smoke. There are many issues … [Read more...]

Sustainable bed and breakfast at Pendragon Country House, in north Cornwall

An intimate 19th-century country house hotel in North Cornwall, perched between the sea and Bodmin Moor. It rightfully prides itself on the quality of food and personal attention to guests. The Setting Turn off the A395 that connects Cornwall's two main artery roads (A30 and A39) into the drive of Pendragon House. Your nearest town is Camelford, and the Davidstow cheddar dairy is on your doorstep. From the orangery (where you take your meals), the view stretches out across the fields to where … [Read more...]

Does Cube’s tasting menu offer the best vegetarian meal in Johannesburg?

In case anyone objects to my title before we've even got started, let's get a few things clear. I know that Johannesburg's Cube is not a vegetarian restaurant. I also know Cube has no choices on the menu. Heck, it doesn't even have a wine list. Cube - or to give it its full, and functionally precise name Cube Tasting Kitchen - only does one sitting, and it's a small place, maybe 20/30 covers. Put it this way - you basically walk through the kitchen to get to the loo. But when I ate there with … [Read more...]

How I discovered great Irish community tourism at Creevy in Donegal

While writing Clean Breaks, the travel book I wrote with Richard Hammond, founder of greentraveller, last year, I visited some amazing people and places across Asia and Africa that were totally committed to helping their local communities. Places that proved to me that, done right, tourism really can be beneficial for the places we visit. But I'd never thought I'd find somewhere that had that same ethos as I'd discovered in developing countries from Zambia to Vietnam right here in my own … [Read more...]