Consortium Conference report from Cyprus & our award!

Travel With Jules are members of the Co-op Travel Consortium and last week Jules and Lynn travelled to Cyprus to the annual consortium conference. This is a chance for us to meet other members and the head office team from all over the country. As independent travel agents we are supported by our bonding consortium with all the legal requirements to make sure your holidays are financially protected and correctly booked!

This year the theme was sustainable tourism and THE CO-OPERATIVE DIFFERENCE. Some of you may know that co-operatives (around the world) are about ethical brands working together and in tourism that involves making sure our clients travels don’t have a negative impact on the destinations they visit.

The Coop Consortium has a large number of roles within the larger umbrella of The Mid-Counties Co-operative Group and regularly take part in community fund raising and assist worthy causes such as The Travel Foundation and Just a Drop. It is possible for consortium members to add donations from our clients via the holiday bookings and Travel With Jules are already corporate sponsors for The Beehive Nakuru, which is a very worthwhile charity for child mothers in Kenya.

Just A Drop (through the Consortium) have raised an amazing amount of money to build wells and clean water pumps in East Africa and at the Gala Dinner at the conference thousands of more pounds were raised. This is amazing – ask us about how you too can support Just a Drop. We have a video about their work (I need to work out how to share it!!).

‘The Cooperative Difference’ was the tag line of the conference and between us we really CAN make a difference in the way people travel and impact on the world.

When we put together bespoke holidays for our clients and there is a choice of tour operators or suppliers, we always look for the company who puts the most back into local communities. In the third world, we are experts in sustainable tourism experiences, whether it’s some volunteer work, helping a school or clinic or educating remote villages, helping to set up ethical businesses for craft artisans or simply supporting the local economy by shopping in markets and eating in local restaurants.

Think about it next time you request an ‘all inclusive’ holiday … in the news today one of the big players in the Caribbean has declared (seemingly very proudly!) that they are importing all of their food and beverages to a Cuba beach all inclusive hotel … exactly what is that contributing to the local economy!

Anyway, back to the conference. Several presentations, including those by G-Adventures and The Travel Foundation, highlighted ways in which we in the travel industry can help and give back to the destinations we are visiting. G-Adventures have a ‘ripple score’ on all of their trips showing what percentage of the holiday price stays in the destination.

Many parts of the world are suffering from ‘over tourism’ … sadly places like ‘The Beach’ in South East Asia where the film was made has been closed do to the amount of rubbish left there by millions of tourists. We are great believers in ‘alternative’ destinations. Numbers of visitors are quite rightly limited to many iconic tourist locations (such as Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail) but did you know there are other ‘Picchus’ and other treks equally jaw dropping (and all the better as much quieter) - below our client Elene recently challenged herself and climbed Hyuana Picchu.

After day one, Lynn and I walked (a bit longer than the 10 minutes the Cyprus Tourism lady said!) to Paphos Harbour and visited an amazing archaeological site with stunning preserved mosaics.

Sadly, Paphos, like much of the built up parts of the Med are suffering from ‘Brits abroad’ with English pubs and coffee chains far out numbering traditional tavernas. Head inland or further north if you would like an authentic Cypriot holiday (we know some lovely places!). A sign of the times (very unfortunately) could be seen from the hill in Old Town where there are far reaching views to the ancient site with its lighthouse and ruins, along the coast an poking up in the middle is a giant yellow MacDonalds ‘M’!! All that said, Cyprus is a great destination for winter sun, just ask us to source the right holiday for you!

A ‘toga party’ was held on the Thursday night, something most of us were dreading but actually when we all looked as silly as each other and had a few drinks it was a very entertaining night! Traditional mezze and Cypriot roasted meats were served in a feast and the hotel lit a spectacular display for us over the pool outside (well, they told us Aphrodite was waiting outside for us!).

Friday night, the Gala Dinner raised many thousands for Just A Drop and several consortium members and staff have pledged to do a charity sky dive!

The icing on our cake was the unexpected presentation of the ‘Award of Excellence’ to Travel With Jules!

I’m really proud of my team and what we have achieved, we really do offer a truly personal service and care not only about our clients but about where we send them and the impact tourism has on local communities and natural landscapes around the world.

The Co-operative Difference and the Travel With Jules Difference!

Thank you for supporting our chosen African cause, The Beehive - below photo going for a walk - (for every holiday you book with us we top up our monthly donation) and also, via the consortium, Just A Drop and Travel Foundation.

Contact us for more information if you want to get more involved.