Justin Francis

Chief Executive & Co-Founder of Responsible Travel

Justin set up Responsible Travel 15 years ago to help travellers live their dreams through authentic adventures whilst ensuring that local people and wildlife benefit. His ultimate goal is to prove that this model is successful and therefore be a catalyst for change across the whole industry. "I don’t see myself as a traditional business person. I’m an activist using business as a tool to change the world." Justin developed this passion for ‘doing business better’ whilst working with Anita Roddick at The Body Shop. ‘She taught me that a business should judge itself by how it treats the poor and the weak. I wanted to take this mantra to tourism’. Having never travelled aboard until his late teens, he’s certainly made up for it now. One experience that defined his travel philosophy was visiting the San people in Namibia. ‘Our guide was sick so asked if I’d be comfortable going on a hunt alone with the bushmen. I jumped at the chance to have a truly authentic adventure – this wasn’t a show for tourists – this was an insight into their way of life. I was even able to contribute to the hunt in a small way by retrieving a hunting stick that one of the elders had left behind. If only for a few moments, I felt that I belonged in Namibia with the San people. I believe the feeling of ‘belonging’ is the most sacred achievement in travel.’ "At £100M, I think we might have the biggest honesty box in the world. By showing our partners trust, we’ve foraged fantastic relationships." Responsible Travel is now the world’s largest platform for ethical tour providers (with a rigorous system in place to ensure each company fits the guidelines to be represented in the site). The company is growing by 30% each year with its profits dependent on an ‘Honesty Box’ where tour providers voluntarily declaring their commission. Justin might have learnt marketing at a world-renowned New York advertising agency - making ads to sell roll up cigarettes and sugary cereals - but his drive to use creativity and communication for ethical business has lead him to become one of the UK’s most renowned social entrepreneurs. It’s not surprising that Justin has been named one of The Times 50 most influential people in travel.

Beyond The Ski Slopes - Connecting With People and Place In Colorado

Responsible tourism may not seem to go hand in hand with the USA, particularly when its most shouted-about tourism offerings are often Disneyland and Las Vegas. And yet over the last couple of years, we've been looking more closely at this vast country, and have pulled out the hidden hideaways, cycling and hiking trails...
19/12/2014 05:29 GMT

Saving Japan's Dolphins - Is Boycotting Travel the Answer?

Calls to boycott the country until it stops the hunting and the infamous Taiji dolphin drives are frequent, but is this the best course of action for travellers anxious about animal welfare? Should we boycott Japan, or should we instead focus our attention on supporting an, albeit slowly, turning tide of change?
10/12/2014 18:59 GMT

Oman's Interior Gives Up the Secrets of Authentic Arabia

The Arabian States have always fostered a romantic notion in the hearts of travellers. Fuelled by Wilfred Thesiger's beautiful descriptions of the desert-dwelling Bedouin in the 1950s and the adventures of Lawrence of Arabia, it's a culture and landscape we find evocative and beguiling.
03/09/2014 13:19 BST

Catalonia - Beyond the Bright Lights of Barcelona

Spain's north-east corner holds a secret. Technically, it's not Spain. At least that's what you will be told again and again by the Catalan people, fiercely protective of their independence and identity. It's a region of incredible individuality...
28/08/2014 11:43 BST

Elephants: To Ride or Not to Ride

In our pursuit for adventure are we unwittingly fuelling an ongoing demand for more elephants to be illegally captured from the wild, with dire consequences? With no more than 45,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, are there better ways that we as tourists, could appreciate and help conserve these incredible animals?
06/08/2014 11:47 BST

Tourism May Be Booming, But Burma Is Not Yet Fixed

After decades of isolation, three years ago Burma (Myanmar) opened its doors to the world, and on arrival we realize we are literally a world apart. Burma is exquisitely unique, a time-warp completely untouched by Westernised culture. Ironically, this is what entices Westerners to travel there.
30/07/2014 15:25 BST

Tourism Could Save Borneo's Threatened Orangutans, But Cuddling Them Wont

Borneo. Just the name conjures up images of remote river expeditions through steamy rainforest in search of the most famous of its inhabitants, the orangutan. And despite opening up to tourism significantly in recent years, vast tracts of this island (particularly the Indonesian state of Kalimantan) are still a lost world in tourism terms
04/06/2014 12:45 BST

Keep It Real and Do It Right: Why South Africa's Culture Is More Than a Safari Afterthought

So go to South Africa and explore its wilderness and wildlife - it's stunningly beautiful - but definitely don't consider its culture an afterthought. However, each province and its people has such a unique heritage, such a complex, fascinating story to tell that trying to taste every flavour of this rainbow nation in one trip will simply water everything down.
19/05/2014 12:57 BST

Keep It Real and Do It Right: Is Responsible Tourism the Key to Madagascar's Future?

Responsible tourism is not a one-sided deal. Not only is it better for Madagascar's wildlife and better for the Malagasy people, it also leads to a much more enriching and memorable holiday experience for you. In return for shouldering the responsibility for ensuring your holiday brings benefits to communities and environments...
14/05/2014 13:33 BST