Geoffrey Kent, founder and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent, spoke today at the Skift Global Forum.
Kent pioneered the modern luxury safari at Abercrombie & Kent, which now offers 350 tours more than 100 countries across seven continents. The Abercrombie & Kent Group now comprises 52 satellite offices worldwide, employing more than 2,500 travel professionals. Kent is also a founding member of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and was recently inducted into the United Kingdom’s Travel Hall of Fame.
Kent’s “Understanding the Socio-Cultural Impact of Travel on Societies” talk with Wendy Perrin explored the way that the travel industry intersects environments and communities across the globe. Here are five things we learned:
- Safaris were all about hunting when Kent founded his company in 1962. “Everyone else was hunting, and I wanted to be a photographer,” said Kent. This led him to develop safari itineraries that avoided violence.
- The Kenyan government had no idea about the potential of tourism back in the 1960s. Kent encouraged them to look at tourism as a private sector export for the first time.
- Sustainability is vital to the future of travel. “We’re losing one elephant every four hours; we’re losing a rhino every eight hours,” said Kent. The market for rare animal parts, specifically ivory, needs to be disrupted to protect endangered animals.
- Tour operators need to look at how local communities will benefit from facilitating their tours. It shouldn’t only be about generating profit. “The funds should go to the community, and not just the government,” said Kent.
- Low-impact tourism needs to have high profit margins in order to be successful. High volume affects the environment and community in adverse ways.
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And thanks to all the sponsors that made Skift Global Forum 2015 possible: Adobe, Amadeus, American Express, Boxever, Big Bus Tours, CendyneOne, Cheapoair, Criteo, Gogo, HelloGbye, Hornblower Cruises, MasterCard, Mindtree, National Geographic, NewsCred, Sabre, SiteMinder, Travel Channel, TurkeyHome, Uber, Underline, Virtuoso, and Yahoo.