12 Nov

ABTA’s Chris Thompson commended at Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards

Chris Thompson, ABTA's Travelife Sustainability Manager, has been Highly Commended in the ‘Best Personal Contribution’ section of the  prestigious Virgin Responsible Travel Awards. Winners were announced yesterday at 11.00 am, as the leading players in sustainability gathered in the Platinum Suite 4 at the World Travel Market.

The Responsible Travel Awards organised by responsibletravel.com aim to celebrate those individuals, companies and organisations in the travel industry that are making a significant commitment to the culture and economies of local communities and providing a positive contribution to biodiversity conservation.  The shortlist was selected by a panel of 13 prolific judges at a recent judging day held at The Royal Geographical Society, London.

Chris began his career in sustainable tourism, when he was appointed to set up a Responsible Tourism Unit at the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) in 2002 after a long period working for mainstream tour operators. He first encouraged all the FTO members, who are the largest mainstream tour operators in the UK, to agree and sign a statement of commitment to sustainable tourism. He also successfully launched a Travel Foundation Industry Unit, which brought  FTO, ABTA and AITO members together to develop much needed sustainability tools in collaboration with the Travel Foundation. He then focussed on setting up the Travelife Sustainability System, which was initially established as a tool for tour operators to measure the sustainability performance of a tour operator’s supply chain.

Travelife Sustainability System audits hotels and ranks them according to their sustainable practices. The top performers are accredited with a Gold, Silver or Bronze Travelife award. Tour operators supporting the scheme promote these achievements through brochures and websites, which give consumers more choices when it comes to choosing ethical holidays.

Chris has won funding from the EU for Travelife, established buy in from European tour operators, launched a Travelife Directory and ensured that thousands of suppliers across the world use the system.

Chris Thompson said: “I am very happy to have received a commendation. It’s a great honour to even be considered for the Responsible Tourism Awards. The industry has been an easy target for many who want to criticise its actions, and all too often tour operators have failed to fight back. I hope that my work shows that tour operators are far from complacent about their responsibilities. I would like to expand the system we have developed to cover all tourism businesses and experiences, and our greatest challenge now lies in persuading consumers to participate in taking the sustainability of destinations seriously.” 

Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “I would like to congratulate Chris on behalf of ABTA. It is fantastic that his work in encouraging the leading companies in our sector to adopt sustainable practices has been acknowledged.”

Founded by responsibletravel.com the Awards are run in association with headline sponsor, Virgin Holidays and partners World Travel Market, The Daily Telegraph and Geographical Magazine.

About The Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards

The Awards are the most prestigious and competitive of their kind in the world and are a collaboration between online travel directory responsibletravel.com, UK media partners The Daily Telegraph and Geographical Magazine, and World Travel Market who host the event. Now in their sixth year, the central tenet of the Awards is that all types of tourism - from niche to mainstream - can and should be operated in a way that respects and benefits destinations and local people.  For more information about the Awards and previous winners see: www.responsibletourismawards.com