27th September is World Tourism Day – and this year there is a special focus on community development. It’s a day we are keen to recognise at Just a Drop, as we are fortunate to have close links with the Travel and Tourism industry, not least by having been established by former World Travel Market Chairman, Fiona Jeffery OBE.
In our latest blog post, hear what Fiona has to say about the charity, its travel industry roots, and how together we are supporting communities worldwide:
The nature of humanity is that it actually thrives on community – starting with our families, our villages, our country and then our engagement with wider communities all structured in the same way, from the grass roots upwards.
We often disregard the significant individual contribution we can bring to our own communities: supporting our local schools and businesses, volunteering at football or scouts clubs, being mindful of our neighbours, helping improve local amenities, and celebrating local customs and cuisine. All of these help protect and improve our cultural heritage and the place we call home, making them better places to live in and better places to visit.
Tourism is simply an extension of this community philosophy. It reduces distances between people and enhances cultural understanding across borders. Tourism is the most informal and interesting way to educate people both at home and away. The impact this has in terms of our global society cannot be underestimated.
Working in the tourism sector and third sector with the international water aid charity Just a Drop for many years, I’ve seen for myself the power of community engagement at the grass roots level and the bottom line is that without it, things don’t get done in a lasting, sustainable way.
At Just a Drop we’ve been blessed with the support of many travel companies and tourism professionals supporting destinations and communities across the world by providing them with clean and safe water and sanitation facilities. Where possible, we encourage our travel partners to come out to the field and see and experience for themselves the difference they are making and how much it’s appreciated by the local communities. It really does create shared understanding and experiences, and brings communities together both at home and overseas in a spirit of partnership and cooperation, rather than charity.
The bottom line is whether living in a buzzing metropolis or a remote rural village, community life and relationships are what make us get up in the morning and seeing the value of this and working at improving it should give us hope for a better future.
As an industry, the travel and tourism sector has a privileged position getting an insight into other people’s lives that others do not experience, at both a macro and micro level. My simple World Tourism Day message to you is to encourage the use of that knowledge and make it count.