Meet Hanna Anfelter, the driving force behind Reform Travel, a Swedish web magazine on Sustainable Tourism. Via Reform Travel, she aims to increase knowledge about the concept and show that just by making small changes to the way you travel you can make a big positive impact on the world. The mission is to take sustainability from niche to norm and make the world a better place through travels. With the online magazine at it’s core Reform Travel it is also a creative communication agency offering consultancy services to tourism business that wants to know more about the benefits of sustainability.
Read on as she shares how a trip to South Africa introduced her to the concept of Sustainable Tourism and set her on a journey to guide people to Travel to a better world.
OPR: What does Sustainability mean to you?
Hanna: Sustainability means having as little negative impact as possible on our planet, the nature and it’s people while living, eating, shopping, working and traveling. To act with respect and consciousness, and making sure profit doesn’t come at the cost of the future generations or others well being. That things are made in transparency and with fair conditions.
OPR: What inspired the setting up of Reform Travel?
Hanna: I have been in the tourism business for many years working with PR and as a travel editor and writer. Alongside my passion for travels and discovering the world, I have always felt a desire to do good, just not knowing how. Then one day when I was on a press trip in South Africa I came across the term sustainable tourism for the first time and I got to see with my own eyes the impact tourism can have on local societies, people, nature and wildlife when done right. How tourism can be a force for good. Then and there the seed to Reform Travel was planted.
OPR: How would you describe the journey this far and the challenges?
Hanna: I launched the business last September and being a one-woman business things have taken longer than I had expected. Compared to other business as food and fashion, the travel industry is far behind in terms of sustainability. When it comes to travel and vacation, especially in Sweden, it is almost sacred ground. The mentality is that it is well merited and bears a kind of ”don’t touch my vacation” stamp. So it is a challenge to talk about sustainability and travel at the same time because most people just want to travel away and forget about all the worries. And as long as people don’t ask for it, businesses don’t offer it. It is still ‘business as usual’.
The mission is to convince people that sustainable tourism does not mean boring vacations or having to stay home, but instead it is a quality label, adding only positive things to the holiday. As always with new things it takes time but i am convinced that sustainable tourism is the only way forward and that demand will increase.
OPR: Personally, a stand out destination of yours and some sustainability highlights there?
Hanna: Hard to name one but I will have to say South Africa since that is where I first saw the impacts of sustainable tourism. The country is filled with contrast but yet there are so many beautiful initiatives and businesses working with sustainability, giving people a chance to educate themselves, get an income and make a better living.
Pictured is Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
Also France is a favorite, having lived and worked there for many years. The country as a whole cares for their traditions and nature, and the well being of our planet. Local, home grown food is of widely used, and you see that in almost every village having a local market. Slow life is a fact and traditions are respected. Also, many initiatives against plastic pollution are in place. They also have a fantastic railway network (despite the ongoing strike) which makes travel there so much more amazing.
Finally, summing up, Hanna shares, “I just want to add that sustainability, or for that matter sustainable tourism is not a quick fix. It is a long term project and demand strategies that go beyond fast profits. It is not a niche product. In fact, it is not a product at all. It is a way of living and looking at things, in order to make this world a better place.”