A Q&A With Plastiki Adventurer David de Rothschild On The WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign

Three years ago, adventurer, entrepreneur and activist David de Rothschild sailed from San Francisco to Sydney on a catamaran made of 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles.

His goal with the Plastiki project was to bring awareness to environmental issues like global warming and plastic pollution, and he has continued to stay active in the environmental movement. Most recently, de Rothschild signed on as an advisor to WHOLE WORLD Water, a three-year campaign that aims to unite the hospitality and tourism industry to combat global clean water issues.

Launched on March 22 to coincide with World Water Day, WHOLE WORLD Water uses a social enterprise model to generate funds for the clean water movement. The process of signing on is relatively simple. First, hotels and restaurants sign on to the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign for a nominal per-property fee. Then, they use the suggested Vivreau water filtration system to filter, bottle and sell their own water to guests. Finally, they donate 10 percent of the proceeds to the WHOLE WORLD Water fund, which benefits safe, sustainable clean water projects in the places that need it most.

Founders Karena Albers and Jenifer Willig estimate that if the world’s three largest hotel groups joined the campaign and sold just one bottle of water per day, the campaign could raise up to $1 billion for its mission, while contributing up to 25 percent toward the company’s bottom line. The campaign has already signed on a number of well-known hotel groups, including Virgin, Dusit and Banyan Tree, along with a number of restaurants, nightclubs and Ritz Carlton properties. Advisors include high-profile names like Virgin mogul Sir Richard Branson, designer Yves Behar, actor and filmmaker Edward Norton and de Rothschild.

In an email exchange, de Rothschild shared with Gadling what sailing the Plastiki taught him about the world’s water supply, why he decided to sign onto the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign and what travelers can do to get on board.

What did sailing the Plastiki teach you about the world’s water supply?

What the Plastiki taught me is sometimes it’s just as important to unlearn as it is to learn. We had to unlearn that it wasn’t all plastic that was the issue, but rather dumb uses of the material. And more importantly it was about redefining the story we tell ourselves about the value of the material – moving it away from valueless to valuable. That in turn will then have an influence over how we use and reuse. I believe the same applies to water issues; we all have to start to leave behind the concept that we have an endless supply of water, if we are to have any chance of creating a future.

Why did you decide to sign on to the WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign?

I can’t see any reason not to! I have been working for a while now to ban plastic straws across the world of hospitality so this seems like an easy and logical extension.

Why tackle hospitality of all industries?

Has to be a whole system approach to have an impact!

What will the WHOLE WORLD Water campaign achieve that other water campaigns haven’t?

That’s yet to be seen, but I have no doubt with such a great team behind the campaign it will produce something positive!

What can travelers do to support the efforts of the WHOLE WORLD Water Campaign?

Just say no to plastic water bottles! And encourage establishments that you come into contact with who haven’t engaged to sign up!

[Photo Credit: WHOLE WORLD Water]

Facebook Timeline For Travel Industry

Facebook timeline of the travel industryThe World Travel and Tourism Council has introduced a fun element to their Facebook page: rather than a timeline of their own milestones, they’ve designed a timeline highlighting all of the events in the travel industry. Starting in 1400 with the first passport, and ending with the 1,000,000,000 international tourist arrival in December 2012, it puts the whole development of tourism in context. The first airport dates to 1909 in College Park, Maryland, and there are now over 44,000 airfields and airports all over the world. Hilton pioneered the hotel chain concept in 1943, and now has properties in 78 countries on six continents. Expedia has been around for 17 years, and TripAdvisor just celebrated their 13th anniversary.

Check out all the travel industry milestones on WTTC’s Timeline, and be sure to click through all the years.

[Photo credit: WTTC Facebook]

Jamie Oliver Invites You To Visit Britain

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is fronting a new tourism campaign encouraging travelers to explore the diverse regions of Britain.

The cook – who is renowned for opening a string of successful restaurants and overhauling unhealthy school lunches in his country – says that between the miles of rugged coastline and vast expanses of countryside, Britain has something to offer everyone.

Not surprisingly, Oliver also waxes lyrical about the cuisine, claiming, “British food is some of the best in the world.”

Check out Jamie Oliver’s invitation below.

Chef Jamie Oliver Shares His Love of Britain



[Photo credit: Flick user really short]

NYC Tourism Campaign Spotlights The City’s Lesser-Known Attractions

More than 52 million people visit New York City each year but the vast majority of visitors never stray far from the well-trodden streets of Manhattan. Now, a new tourism initiative is encouraging travelers to take a bigger bite out of the Big Apple by venturing out of the typical tourist hotspots and deep into the city’s five boroughs.

Neighborhood X Neighborhood” will give visitors a list of suggestions on things to do and see ranging from popular tourist activities to hidden gems that only the locals know about. The city’s vast array of restaurants, shops and cultural venues will all be spotlighted in the campaign.

The city’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, says previous efforts to widen the tourist circuit have stimulated development in the neighborhoods. In recent years, more than 70 hotels have sprung up outside Manhattan, catering to visitors who want to get off the beaten path.”We’ve focused on bringing more tourists to neighborhoods outside of Manhattan, and it’s paid off with more hotels being built and tourism-related economic activity happening in those boroughs,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Our neighborhoods are what make New York City unique, and visitors who explore the boroughs beyond the beaten path are sure to be rewarded with unforgettable, only-in-New-York experiences.”

NYC’s neighborhoods are all easily accessible via the city’s extensive transit system and campaign organizers say travelers who veer out of Manhattan and into the more obscure neighborhoods will be rewarded with a more affordable stay.

Bushwick, Fort Greene and Williamsburg are the first neighborhoods to be featured in the tourism initiative, which kicks off today. You can check out the neighborhood highlights here.

[Photo credit: NYC & Company]

The Kimchi-ite: Seoul Offers Rewards To Report Taxi Drivers Who Rip Off Tourists

Last week, the Seoul city government announced a plan to offer up to a 500,000-won (USD $456) reward for anyone who has information on taxi drivers that rip off foreign tourists.

While charging more than the standard metered fare is against South Korean law, sometimes taxis can forget this, in additional to other rules. Red lights get run, taxis find themselves going the wrong direction on the road to save time and meters are accidentally not turned on and the final prices are made up on the spot, slightly inflated.

It isn’t uncommon to find taxi drivers walking around tourist hot spots late at night, such as near Seoul Station or in the foreign district of Itaewon, hounding tourists and locals alike for their business. Many ask tourists where they want to go and offer a price upfront, off the meter. This upfront price is almost always more expensive than what the actual metered rate would have been. If you try to barter with them, or insist they just use the meter, they will often retort back that it is late and you are unlikely to find any other taxis (often said while they are standing directly in front of a dozen other taxis). They take advantage of the fact that many tourists don’t know average fare for their destination and are willing to accept whatever a cab driver tells them.There have been a number of times when I was coming home long after the subway stopped running and was confronted with these cabbie solicitors. The first time I encountered this situation, I naively took one up on his offer. After my next weekend adventure out on the town, I decided to flag down my own cab from that same spot. My metered fare ending up being less than half the price of that previous, un-metered trip. Ever since then, I mostly ignore the solicitors, sometimes asking them for a cheaper fare than the average, but they always turn me down.

It’s good to hear that the city is trying to curb this lax attitude towards the law. It’s a little concerning that this reward system may only apply to foreign tourists that are ripped off, but hopefully it will benefit tourists and locals alike in the future. It will without a doubt give me one less headache on my journey home from a late night out. Hopefully this new measure is enforced and the hotline to report overcharging is published in every Seoul guidebook.

You can report these fraudulent taxi drivers by calling Seoul Information’s “Dasan 120” hotline. Just dial 120 from any phone in Seoul and report it to the multi-lingual staff.

Be sure to check out more Korean bits on Korean culture from “The Kimchi-ite” here.

[Photo Credit: Jonathan Kramer]