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01:02 It’s been a year unlike any other
02:18 Travel can be a force for good
03:52 Thinking about our footprint
04:54 Girl in Florence
05:40 Chubby Diaries
06:11 Traveling with a disability
07:03 Trends in travel for 2021
08:18 Next week
“…rather than recommending a list of destinations to travel to, we want to focus on what matters most. And we think that these three themes of sustainability community and diversity are reflective of the shared values in travel. And we're really delighted to talk about and recognize the people and places and businesses that are making a positive impact around the world.” - Alex
Alexander Howard is the managing editor of Lonely Planet's US magazine. Prior to joining the magazine team, he was destination editor for Western US and Canada, where he commissioned, edited, and managed 34 guidebooks.
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Hi it’s Kim with you and thank you for tuning in, it’s certainly been a tough year for the travel industry and Lonely Planet is just one company that in their words needed to reinvent themselves and part of that was making their Best in Travel different, by as mentioned recognizing places and people demonstrating a genuine commitment to sustainability, community, and diversity. So, to explain Best in Travel 2021 I am chatting to lead editor Alex Howard and Alex it’s certainly been a strange year.
Alex: Well, it has certainly been a year unlike any other. I kind of went back through my calendar and all the things that happened through this year and just had a moment of reflection to think about all the things that we've been through and how far away, January, February seems right now. But I'd say, in terms of the travel industry, it's been heavily affected by the pandemic. But I think things are well-positioned for a rebound and frankly, it's going to be an exciting time to travel well when we're able to get out again.
Kim: So what's going to be exciting about it?
Alex: Well, it'll be like we're rediscovering the world all over again. After however many months it's been, kind of locked in, I've been working from home for the good portion of this year, it's going to be like we're learning how to take our first steps. So we're going to be able to go back to the places that we love the most. And we've had plenty of time to think about the places we're excited to go to next. And that's what I'm really looking forward to is really acting on all the chances I've had to kind of dream about traveling.
Kim: I would love to hear about the campaign that Lonely Planet launched just a couple of weeks ago. Can you tell me more?
Alex: So our annual best in travel list is a list of the best places to travel for the year ahead. And like I said, this year is so different, we wanted to take stock of our guiding philosophy that travel can be a force for good. So rather than recommending a list of destinations to travel to, we want to focus on what matters most. And we think that these three themes of sustainability community and diversity are really reflective of the shared values in travel. And we're really delighted to talk about and recognize the people and places and businesses that are making a positive impact around the world. Starting with community, community tourism, we're well aware of the impact that both positive and in some cases, the negative impact that travel can have on a community. But we think that there are certain things that travelers can think about when they're visiting places that can really help make a community better.
Alex: And it's ways to empower local businesses and communities, generate income for locals, and promote a kind of a cross-cultural understanding that I think we can all agree is a great aspect of travel. As far as diversity, we think that diversity and travel matters because diverse perspectives and experiences just make better stories and they make a better understanding and break down barriers. So we thought that now, more than ever before, developing more diverse and inclusive travel can really be transformational for both the traveler and the places that they visit. And so finally, sustainability with travel and air travel and transportation, having such a large impact on the environment, we wanted travelers to think about their footprint, both their carbon footprint, but also the footprint in the communities that they visit and think about ways that they could help lighten that footprint, and so that's why we focused on sustainability as our last theme.
Kim: And you've also looked at yourselves as a business and you want to highlight more local and you've used the word diversity, diverse voices. So you've actually said that you needed to reinvent yourself.
Alex: Well, and to a certain extent, this has been a reinvention of a lot of what Lonely Planet is focusing on. In the past, the best in travel list was purely a list of destinations, countries, regions, and cities. And that was always great and it was a great way to explore the world, but this really gave us the opportunity to think about ways that travel can be a force for good and ways that a traveler can visit a destination and not only come back with fascinating stories and incredible experiences but make a positive impact on the destinations that they've traveled to.
Kim: So is it reasonable for me to ask you for examples under each of those three? If you look on your website at the /best in travel, as an example under community, there's an ex-pat storyteller. And I think the title of that article is, Girl in Florence. So if we click on community, what kind of things do you think are going to be shared with us?
Alex: Yeah. Girl in Florence is the blog of Georgette Jupe, and she is a really great blogger because she has the ability to get under the surface of one of Italy's most popular cities. And she's really immersed herself in the community and brought life to a side of Florence that you rarely see when you're just doing the kind of big bucket list experiences. And she does that by interviewing independent artists and artisans and encouraging people to stay longer and dig deeper. So yeah, Girl in Florence is an excellent example. For our diversity list, I really like talking to Jeff Jenkins. Jeff is the writer and runner of a blog called Chubby Diaries, which provides inspiration and information and product recommendations for plus-size people, and really empowering his community to see more of the world through groups, meetups, and kind of a rich mix of photography and video. And it's really been impactful because a lot of tour operators that Jeff has dealt with have now become more accommodating to plus-sized travelers. So he's already really making a big impact.
Kim: Also traveling with a disability.
Alex: That's right. And we highlighted Wheel the World for our Inclusive Tour Award. Wheel the World is an outfit that really kind of removes those barriers for people with disabilities. Whether it's bucket-list climbs up Machu Picchu or diving off Easter Island, the company kind of merges technology with accessible accommodation and transportation methods to really make those exciting experiences available for everybody.
Kim: Look, it was hard for Lonely Planet when this pandemic was first declared. How are you guys looking at 2021, obviously with this campaign, positively?
Alex: Yeah, it's been a tough year, but we are excited about all of the opportunities ahead of us. The campaign will kind of continue into next year. We're going to focus on some trends like we're seeing obviously, a lot more people are interested in the digital nomad experience, a lot more people are working remotely. So we're going to cover that a lot more and explore, talk to people that are doing digital nomads. Because we've been finding that a lot of destinations that were previously kind of high tourist destinations, like Thailand, and some islands in the Caribbean are kind of catering to people that are working remotely with new visas and incentives for them to come work in those countries. So it's been a really interesting development in that regard.
Alex: It wasn't necessarily called the digital nomad lifestyle back then, but myself, I went to teach English in China for a couple of years in 2006, and it was a fantastic experience. I lived there and got to travel around for two and a half years. So it really is an incredible way to experience a country and really immerse yourself in the culture.
Kim: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you are about to go and pick up your child, how's that going to look for you in 2021? Because one of the great things about 2020 and working from home was that connection with family. Will you be able to maintain that next year?
Alex: I certainly hope so. Yeah, one of the blessings of being, those early lockdown days was... He's one now, and he was at that time, just learning how to, well, he was kind of moving from crawling to wandering around. So it was a really special time to be home with him. And I think that we're already planning our next family trip and excited to share with the newly open world will look like with him.
Kim: Nice. Thank you so much Alex we will have links in show notes to the campaign where you can read more of those stories PLUS details on how to get a discount with Light My Fire, a Swedish company specializing in outdoor accessories.
Next week our final episode for 2020 before we take a break and focus on building great listening for you in 2021.