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ECOCLUB, Issue 94
"I have always only focused on projects I believed in – even if the big
unsustainable ones were offering to pay more"
Dr. Rachel Dodds has 17 years of experience in the tourism industry specialising in
sustainable tourism. Rachel is currently the Director of Sustaining Tourism, a
consultancy firm, as well as an Assistant Professor in the Ted Rogers School of
Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. She has
worked in all facets of the tourism industry including tour operators, hotels,
governments, NGO's and small businesses. Her experience includes working with the
World Bank/IFC, the Caribbean Tourism Organization/European Union, the Prince
of Wales International Business Leaders Forum's International Tourism Partnership,
WWF, Toronto's Green Tourism Association, as well as many hotels, tour operators
the reader
may find case studies, definitions and potential solutions for sustainable tourism. The
site also offers consulting services including planning, marketing and implementation
tools for sustainable tourism/ecotourism management.
Rachel holds a PhD in sustainable tourism from the UK and a Master of Tourism
Management from Australia. She has authored multiple articles about sustainable
tourism, corporate social responsibility and ecotourism and is currently undertaking
research in climate change and sustainability issues. She has furthered her tourism
knowledge through her travels and has visited 6 continents and over 55 countries.
The Interview follows: You are young, but already a highly-accomplished sustainable tourism consultant and academic.
Academics are famed for their doubts, consultants for their certainty. Is it easy to wear both hats? What would you
advise other young people wishing to enter your line of work?
Rachel Dodds:
Being both I am certain that I have doubts! Seriously though, I believe, consultants tend to be more focused on
the practical element than academics but academics tend to focus more on rigor and methodology. That being said, I feel I have
an edge by being both as I try to be real-world focused to teach my students what is needed in the workplace but also my
consulting projects benefit from my in-depth analysis I learned through my academic research studies. It is also nice to
sometimes be able to bring real-life experience into the classroom which gives a practical element to the students.
In terms of advice for young people – the most important thing I have learned is to network. Volunteer to get experience, ensure
you say thank you when people help you out along the way – and stay in touch with people. Tourism is a diverse industry so I
would suggest getting experience in all areas – I have worked in restaurants, attractions, tour operators, hotels, government
bodies and NGO's – having that knowledge of how they all work gives me a great insight for my work. Should green / sustainable tourism certification be trusted by tourists at its current state? Should it
ever be trusted?
Rachel Dodds: As to whether certification should or ever be trusted well, a company which is moving in this direction is
better than one who isn't – so that is a good start! I believe that companies that have been certified have had to improve their
overall operational efficiencies and have therefore realised that being environmentally and socially focused makes good
business sense. It is confusing to the consumer that there are so many standards and often quality is not ranked along side
environmental indicators but it is slowly moving in this direction. I believe the biggest issue with certification is marketing –
most people don't even know certified companies exist and there is currently no one-stop-shop where all certified companies are
accessible to the consumer. I am hoping that large on-line booking companies will see the value in offering certified or
companies with a strong CSR or environmental focus to be offered to the consumer beside other mainstream ones – that then
would be an easy choice for the consumer to choose green or not green in just one click! How about carbon-offsets by tourists, are you convinced that they really lead to a decrease of
carbon emissions, are they a useful pretext to raise some funds for other green issues, or just a scam?
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