home People Valere Tjolle

Valere Tjolle


Based in Bath, England, Valere Tjolle died in October 2021. Valere was recognized as an innovator, authority, and key proponent of direct and alternative marketing and product creation in the travel and tourism industry. He had more than 50 years in-depth, practical “Hands-on” experience. Projects since 1995 have included tourism developments in Africa, USA, UK, and Eastern Europe. His last book was You Lucky People.

News on Travelmole

Key Links


Ownership – Valere Tjolle


2010 Conversation

0:07 Tjolley like jolly
1:00 Introduction, Vision on Sustainable Tourism editing
1:30 First started in 1960-1965
2:25 1995 Notre Dame visit … tourists never saw anything. Is this business I’m in? No one was benefiting. Within that year I went to Johannesburg at the Africa Travel Market. Geoffrey Lipmann, Shaun Mann still doing what we call sustainable tourism now. Enabling destinations and cultures to benefit from tourism and for tourists to benefit from their …
4:35 Oliver Hillel question: What changes have you seen in the past 20 years?
5:40 Astonished by how long it’s taking … not talking about silly people
6:25 People gain confidence when they recognize they are offering a fulfilling experience. It’s not just about taking people’s money and sending them away.
8:30 Guests and hosts have different responsibilities

Elsewhere on the Web




The problem with academic-style weasel words is that they don’t add value but they do add stress.
Valere Tjolle

2009 Conversation

Ron Mader: Starting the conversation …Valere, the report is subtitled “It’s the Economy, Stupid” — how do you define the economy?

Valere Tjolle: Well, Ron, thanks for asking. You’ll see from the report that I don’t say THE economy. I like to feel that we’ve got to the stage of ‘joined up thinking’ and that we can understand, now, that there is more than one economy, each dependent on the other. In our business there are at least 9 – the cash economy, of course; the physical environment economy; the climate economy; the food economy; the fuel economy; the water economy; the cultural economy, the social economy and the population economy.

When each is individually balanced, and in balance with each other – we’re OK – healthy. When not, we’re out of balance – dis-eased!

That’s where I think we are right now – out of balance with most of those economies. Of course, we concentrate on the most immediately painful and try to fix it. You can be sure that it will have effects on the others

Ron Mader: While I like the idea of ‘joined up thinking’ … after so many years of hearing experts and leaders talk about holistic approaches and integrated management, I see very little of this in the field. National tourism portals, for example, rarely show the community-based tourism options, markets or ecotourism. The way tourism has been developed and sold in the past 50 years has lead to a ‘in the box’ mentality. I’m reminded of bird watchers who regularly avoid the tourism information desks because they can get their information from other birders. The lack of questions leads many promoting tourism to ignore or discount the economic impact of wildlife tours and birdwatching in particular. I wish I didn’t sound so cynical! In your view, are you seeing more examples of integrated approaches, of ‘joined up thinking’?

Valere Tjolle: Well, yes I am – and I really am an old cynic! Joined up thinking is precisely sustainable tourism – isn’t it? Recognising the consequences of our actions and taking responsibility for them.

I remember the early days of mass tourism and its consequent growth when nobody thought about anything except numbers. Passenger numbers, distance numbers, load factor numbers, occupancy numbers and profit numbers. Then, of course, we were in a ‘push’ tourism economy. Now at least we’re starting to realise that all these numbers have implicit non-numerical costs particularly in destinations! The thing that I think is quite crazy is that we don’t spend more time, energy and cash in protecting the real tourism assets – destination attractions. Like many other things we’ve commoditised them. Consequently respect has gone out of the window – don’t you think?

Ron Mader: This week we are conducting a global discussion about responsible tourism

The plan had been to have the conversation on the ground in Belize, but that’s been delayed until October. If you were to address a conference, what points would you make about making tourism more responsible?

Valere Tjolle: I assume that Responsible Tourism is a pact between host and guest. In other words both have a responsibility to the destination and the holiday/visit.

In this case, I feel that the major issues are as follows:

1. Education, both of the potential clients and destination stakeholders
2. Engagement with the marketplace
3. Promotion of responsible tourism as a subset of sustainable tourism
4. Understanding of the opportunities that tourism presents for a destination and
5. Methods of obtaining them!

Ron Mader: In the Responsible Tourism Webinar — whl.travel/blog/?page_id=606 — you said a few things worth repeating. Among the gems:

  • “Travel business is all about marketing. It’s not about telling travellers how good we are, it’s about telling travellers what we can do for them and I think that’s where we’ve missed a trick sometimes in responsible tourism.”

  • “At the end of the day none of the small accommodation providers/tour providers can be looked after by development agencies, however much money they’ve got. It will only work if the public supports it and the public can only support it by spending their money, and the public will only spend their money (not because you say it’s green, it’s responsible, it’s fantastic, it’s wonderful) if they think they’re going to get a good deal, and I think we really need to get back to that.”

  • “We need to have a political background to tourism and the sustainability agenda. We aren’t doing enough.”

My question is … where do we stand in late 2009? Are the small accommodations/tour providers becoming more successful in getting their stories across? Also, what sort of political background would you like to see when it comes to defining the sustainability agenda?

Valere Tjolle: In a word – no, partly because everybody seems rather confused about what it all means. I consider myself a conscious, occasionally responsible person. I am certainly responsible for my actions. Would I buy myself a responsible lunch? Would I go to see a responsible film? Would I wear a responsible pair of swimming trunks? Would I have a responsible night out with a responsible lady? NO, but I would consider the authenticity and the provenance of all of those things. So where do the accommodation providers stand? Confused, I think. They must be, after all the main benefits of sustainability, and sustainable certification to them are saving money, time and energy and getting nicer, better, more, clients. So why aren’t they forming a queue (line)? I guess they are confused.

All my friends in development tell me, and I also believe, that enabling legislation is needed for sustainable tourism to develop. I don’t see any signs of it. Yet.

Embedded Tweets


Ron (10/21): Vale, Valere. Thank you for your years of insight and perspectives gleaned from decades of seeing what went well and what did not around the globe. Tourism is more than travel – it’s the connections woven among visitors and locals, stories told, and stories that need to be shared. Valere doggedly pointed the way. Let me extend my best thoughts and wishes to family and friends.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.