Green team helps protect global environment
25 March 2019
Improving the planet has been at the heart of Vicky Smith’s career.
Graduating with a Master’s in Responsible Tourism Management from Leeds Beckett University in 2012, the founder of sustainable tourism company Earth Changers has travelled the globe for the past 25 years.
A qualified game ranger in Africa, her work has included protecting rainforest in Costa Rica, supporting conservation projects in the Galapagos Islands and promoting sustainable lobster fishing in Madagascar.
And now Vicky has taken on another challenge after being named one of the Government’s “green ambassadors”.
Vicky on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
The 10-strong team - which includes TV presenter and newsreader Jan Leeming and sea-faring environmentalist David de Rothschild–will champion and promote the (Defra) Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ Year of Green Action.
Dr Davina Stanford, Course Director for the Responsible Tourism Management MSc at Leeds Beckett's School of Events Tourism and Hospitality Management, said: “I’m so pleased for Vicky as I know how hard she has worked to achieve her goals.
“It’s wonderful to see her passion, determination and talent recognised. I have no doubt that Vicky will be a fantastic ambassador not just for Defra but also for sustainable tourism.
“What’s more, I’m delighted have one of our alumna as a role model for the young women developing their careers in Responsible Tourism Management.”
Vicky said she was honoured to be invited by Defra to be an ambassador for the Year of Green Action.
"It’s not something I ever expected. I came to work in travel because I love wildlife and wilderness, to be at one with nature, to visit different people and places.
"People often ask if travel can be sustainable, and the answer is yes - in fact, tourism has the potential to positively support nature and communities like no other industry worldwide.
"I hope I can help people understand green issues in tourism so they can make informed and better travel choices for the world around us – so the places, people and nature we love to experience are still there for future generations to continue enjoying."
Vicky and her team in the Sahara desert
Vicky added: I would never be doing what I am now without the MSc Responsible Tourism Management. It was no doubt the springboard for my sustainable tourism career, with an excellent reputation, and brought me jobs, ongoing network support, and many friends in the sector too.”
Vicky has worked in tourism for 25 years and for the last 12 years has focused on sustainable tourism in the UK and further afield, in areas including game reserves, developing countries, tours, web development, ecommerce and marketing.
Founding Earth Changers, said Vicky, allowed her to combine her business acumen and marketing creativity with a passion for wildlife, wilderness and adventure.
“I strongly believe in the powers of the internet and tourism for connecting communities worldwide for positive impact and sustainable development,” she said.
“Earth Changers highlights the most sustainable tourism around the world, engages with the people behind places to reveal their true passions and purpose, and educate on the issues.
“Our pioneering tourism operations often help finance foundations' charitable objectives, by putting quality over quantity and purpose before profit, to put Earth first.”
Announcing the new team, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “The natural world is our greatest asset and we all have a responsibility and role to play in protecting it for generations to come.
“These new ambassadors have shown tremendous passion in their drive for environmental protection and have been tenacious in their desire to raise awareness, from swimming the length of the English Channel to sailing a recyclable boat made from reclaimed plastic bottles.”
The Year of Green Action is a year-long initiative to get more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve the environment.
It provides a focal point for organisations, individuals, communities and businesses to learn more about their environmental impact, take action to reduce it, and spread the word on environmental issues.