Women in Tourism – Meet Tessa Burhmann
We complete our series of Women in Tourism, with the always smiling Tessa Burhmann of the Responsible Traveller. Tessa is a well known Travel Writer and heads up the Responsible Traveller amongst many other Tourism duties. We caught up with Tessa at the Travel Massive, Durban function, over lunch to find out more about the world of Travel Writing and publication.
How did you get into Travel Writing? Travel, and writing about it, had always been something I longed to do – it was a ‘feel it in my innermost being’ thing. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to work (in sales) for a publishing company that recognized this and gave me the opportunity to learn and grow and be published. Yay 🙂
How did the Responsible Traveller come about? I had a growing interest in and passion for conservation and the environmental and community initiatives that were becoming more mainstream in the travel industry. I tried to encourage these in the publication I worked for at the time, but they were not interested – and my thought was, ‘If I don’t do this now, someone else will.’ So armed with blind faith, courage and a ‘pre-2008 financial meltdown’ business plan, I resigned and stepped out on my own. Eeek!! It was a learning curve of note, some days I wished that I still had my regular salary and predictable working environment, but now I wouldn’t change it for the world. And 10 years later, I still consider it an absolute privilege that I get to travel and experience so many amazing places… and get invited to explore back of the house behind the scenes stuff, things that ‘normal’ guests never get to see. The level of trust is quite humbling…
What are the Responsible Traveller’s philosophy and article focus? I get asked this question often… and I always say that Responsible Traveller is just like any other travel mag BUT that it looks at destinations from a different perspective, one that looks at the stories beyond the obvious – the people stories, the difference employment makes to communities, the clinics and schools that are built, and vegetable gardens that are planted. The conservation stories, and eco-stories… you get the idea. If a story manages to inspire a reader to make informed travel decisions, to manage their impact on the environment, and to ‘be the difference’, then it’s all worth it!!
What advice do you give aspiring travel writers trying to break in? In Richard Branson’s words… ‘just do it’ – but if I had to start over again, I would probably do it with the safety net of employment to start with 🙂 I would also suggest write more, and often as it improves your writing skills.
As a traditional travel writer, what do you think about blogs? Some blogs I absolutely love… others not so much. The ones that I am drawn to usually ‘know’ themselves, what they’re about and what they’re trying to achieve – they have an authentic voice. If a blog is trying to ‘market’ a destination or experience then I prefer if the personal stuff is limited and appropriate (the story is about the place, not the person), if it’s a personal blog about an experience, then I love the personal stuff… and if it’s lifestyle orientated then a bit of travel, experience, and life does it for me.
What is your favourite travel book and why? Ooh, difficult one. It’s not so much the who, but the what… I love ‘out of your comfort zone’ stories. Lately, I’ve been enjoying fiction with a ‘travel related’ theme, such as Tony Park’s novels set in Southern Africa – I also love that he brings conservation issues into the conversation… his latest novel ‘Captive’ touches on the potential for corruption in conservation fundraising, and he mentions the scourge of canned lion hunting!
Name 3 of your top favourite Travel Bloggers that you enjoy? Only three?? Dawn Bradnick (The Incidental Tourist Travel Blog – www.theincidentaltourist.com ) for her soulfulness and beautiful writing, Di Brown (The Roaming Giraffe – www.theroaminggiraffe.co.za ) for her ability to make all things seem possible, and Anje Rautenbach (Going Somewhere Slowly – www.goingsomewhereslowly.com ) for her wicked sense of humour and Heather Mason (2Summers – www.2summers.net ) for the fab way she tells her personal story without diluting the destination story. Sorry, I couldn’t keep it to just three…
You can follow Tessa and the Responsible Traveller by visiting her website: Responsible Traveller
Or follow her travels on Instagram: @responsibletraveller