Ethical travel experts gearing up for a new chapter post pandemic

Mark Benewith, James Burton and Darren Taylor of Working Travel Group[1]

A Bristol-based team of ethical travel experts is gearing up for a new chapter after a pandemic-enforced hiatus which devasted their industry worldwide.

Trading as Pure Breaks, Working Travel Group hoped to celebrate its 21st anniversary in 2020, but Covid-19 sent the world into lockdown and forced many travel firms to cease trading.

Pure Breaks specialises in high-end experiences, where the financial benefits are felt by communities in the foreign destinations, rather than agents and operators.

Now, as the world opens up and restrictions are slowly eased, the company is looking to help play its part in developing a ‘new normal’ for the travel industry – based on sustainability and ethics.

Company Founder and CEO James Burton, who first founded the business in 1999, also overcame a cancer scare last year. Now fully recovered, he hopes for an exciting new era for his company.

To support its growth, he has made a key appointment in Darren Taylor, who has been working in the travel industry for the past 18 years working with large agencies, international tour operators, hotels and hostels around the world and becomes Chief Operations Officer.

Darren’s appointment completes a leadership team which also includes Mark Benewith, who has been Chief Technical Officer at the company since late 2018.

“We’re not the only business, or sector, for whom 2020 was a year to forget,” he said. “And whilst the government has significantly supported businesses and jobs, the travel sector continues to be under huge pressure. In discouraging travel, the government is failing to recognise the number of UK jobs dependent on this industry. Post furlough, this will become more evident.

“This period is also putting enormous strain on the charity work that we do which will have a significant impact on the thousands of lives we support each year.

“That said, Pure Breaks has navigated a very challenging landscape and has remained robust in surviving the pandemic, consolidating where possible but fine tuning its range of unique and interesting travel experiences.

“Darren, Mark and I hope that, as we enter an era in which ethics and purpose are uppermost in people’s minds, people realise our offering is the future of the travel industry.

“Travellers want to know where their money is going, and it’s a sad fact that traditional models only see a very small percentage of money spent – depending on location, as little as five per cent – goes to those who live in the destinations which are being visited.”

“We want to change that. Particularly over the past 12 months, we’ve been busy researching, exploring and using our contacts to create excellent relationships with in-country venues, communities, properties and unique experience providers in locations around the world.

“We’re looking to offer ethical travel and life experiences, responsibly operating within destinations, embracing cultural diversity, supporting local communities, and actively contributing to environmental conservation.

“That’s something which is really relevant in the post-pandemic world. Many of the destinations we work with are desperate for income after travel restrictions destroyed the tourism economy.

“Only through models like ours can we achieve the aim of improving the lives of people, enhancing education, raising health awareness and building life-skills.”

James said Pure Breaks is focusing on nations and islands in and around the Indian Ocean as the initial region for travellers to explore as the world begins to open up again. These will be the first of a total of 54 global destinations, also across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Ocean.

“The possibility to experience, discover and explore are endless,” he said. “We have done the hard work by putting together unique holidays that are responsible and beneficial to the people in those destinations.

“We’re looking forward to helping people explore more destinations over the coming weeks and months. For everyone who has been looking forward to travelling again, we’re pleased to say that the wait is nearly over.”