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.

How Can We Democratise Tourism?

We have various hypotheses about the possible benefits of these trips - in time we'll try to research and prove them but in the meantime it's my personal belief that travel can have a transformative effect, that it can foster a greater understanding of other cultures and to open our eyes to the possibilities in the world.
13/01/2017 16:53 GMT

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

Is Cambodia's Biggest Tourism Draw Also Its Downfall?

Think of Cambodia and the vast majority of us picture Angkor Wat, the vast complex of temples tucked away in the far north-east. It is Cambodia's UNESCO World Heritage calling card, its number one tourist destination, but could it also be its downfall?
28/10/2014 11:55 GMT

Northern Lights nd Northern Rights: Tips For Responsible Tourism In Lapland

Yes the lights are green, but environmental concerns should not be the only ones on our mind if we head off in search of the Northern Lights this winter. Of course, limiting our impact on the fragile Arctic landscape is important, but to truly connect with these places we need to understand, respect and help preserve the cultural traditions and the people which have shaped them.
20/10/2014 14:40 BST

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