Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stevie Christie - Director, Wilderness Scotland Ltd

How old are you?

What’s your occupation and who do you work for?
Director of Wilderness Scotland, an adventure travel company providing high quality holidays based around sustainable and responsible tourism.

How long have been doing this?
5 years

What is it about your job that makes it ethical?
All of our trips are designed to have the minimum environmental impact while also bringing positive benefits to the remote and isolated communities we visit in the Scottish Highlands and islands. We offset our (small!) carbon emissions by 110% and support a range of environmental charities and projects. But we do all of this by providing great holidays!

What’s the best bit about your job?
Hearing great feedback from our clients, spending time with our guides and finding time to lead some of our trips.

What’s the worst thing?
Turning people away when they apply for jobs. We get hundreds of applications, most of which come with us with great environmental credentials but no experience of working in tourism. For info, opportunities are listed on our website and if no jobs are listed, there is nothing available just now!

What have the last 12 months been like for you?
Busy but fun.

What were you doing before this?
Working as a freelance walking guide.

What was your very first full-time job?
As an environmental policy advisor for the government

What advice would you give to someone wishing to embark on the same sort of work as you?
Get some experience first of all, know your products and remember that you need to run your business properly and efficiently, otherwise you will soon be out of business – sustainability means being able to pay the bills as well as looking after our planet.

Have you got any plans for the next 12 months you’d like to share with us?
We’re always developing new trips – keep an eye on our website!

What do you do to relax?
I go walking, sea-kayaking, mountain biking or climbing. I love the outdoors and am lucky to live in Scotland which is a great destination for these activities.

Who do you live with?
My girlfriend

Whereabouts do you live?

If you were Prime Minister, what’s the very first thing you would do?
Change the official address of the PM from London to somewhere in Scotland! Then re-assess our energy policies. I get frustrated when I see windfarms popping up everywhere, when a lot of research suggests that they are not the answer. Meanwhile, they are ruining our wild landscapes and harming the wildlife. If we need to build wind farms, why not build them next to cities where the power is needed and the landscape already industrialised?

As cheap and easily available oil is expect to run out in the next couple of decades, what do you think will be the predominant form of transport in 2027?
Very similar to now in terms of cars, trains and planes, but with different fuels.

Have you got any guilty carbon secrets?
I’m pleased to say that I don’t!

What have you done that you were most proud of?
Proved to ourselves and to others that it is possible to run a successful business while still keeping environmental principles at the core of what we do. This is now being recognised at a wider level by others in the tourism industry.

What single issue are you most concerned about in the world at large?
The melting ice-caps and deforestation. Sorry, that’s two!

Which person in the public eye do you most admire and why?
Scottish climber Dave MacLeod – for his unrivalled commitment to his climbing and thoughtful approach to it all.

What’s your website address?

What are your three favourite other websites of the moment?
www.wildernessjourneys.com – our overseas trips: each of these is designed in a similarly sustainable style to our Scotland trips. All the trips are longer, to encourage people to fly just once a year rather than take lots of short breaks overseas. And our European trips are all accessible by train or ferry from the UK.
www.edinburghmountainff.com – an inspiring film festival in Edinburgh.
www.jmt.org – website of the John Muir Trust, an important environmental charity working to protect wild places.

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