Meet the Boss: Amanda Marks, Tribes Travel

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Every Monday at 101 Holidays we meet one of the people behind the UK’s finest travel companies. This week we turn the spotlight on Amanda Marks, of Tribes Travel.

Amanda and her husband Guy had both worked as tour leaders for an adventure overland company before they founded Tribes Travel in 1998.

The company pioneered the idea of Fair Trade Travel. “We wanted to start a travel company where the people in the destinations were not sidelined by the industry, but could make a good living from tourism. At the time, that was still a fairly new idea,” says Amanda.

The couple continue to run the company from rural Suffolk, where they also live with their two sons aged 8 and 12.

• Where are you planning to go on holiday this year, and why?

We are going to Jordan later this year – the Red Sea, Petra, the desert at Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea. We wanted to take the kids to experience a culture they have not yet come across, and Jordan really does have some fabulous sights, which even our boys are sure to love. And nothing is very far away, so travel is not a big issue when you’re there.

• What is your favourite bolthole in the UK, and why?

I am a lover of North Yorkshire. I don’t mind if it’s the moors or the Dales, I just love walking in this area. The landscape is fabulous, there are some great places to stay and you can always find good food.

• If you could spend a long weekend in any city abroad, which would you pick, and why?

Marrakech, for sure! It’s not too far, it’s very culturally different, it has great food, wonderful riad accommodation and shopping which ranges from bartering in the souk in the medina to yearning for more expensive luxuries in the new town shops. Many of the riads also have hammams and spas, so it also works as a place to relax. I love it.

• Please tell us three items that are always found in your luggage.

I always take my homoeopathic first aid kit wherever I go. I’m a qualified homoeopath, so I prefer to rely on homoeopathy than conventional drugs.  I also always take my Akubra – an Australian bush hat. It has travelled the world with me for years now and although it’s battered, it’s still going strong. Lastly, walking boots. I’m not a beach girl, so my holidays and work trips invariably include walking or hiking.

• What one thing would most improve people’s overall holiday experience?

A sense of humility. How much more would we see and understand and experience if we travelled with an open mind and heart? I see too many tourists who feel that their way and beliefs are the only acceptable ones. I don’t understand why people with such views bother travelling at all.

• What has been your worst holiday experience?

Malta was pretty bad! I’d never go back. The hotel was dire (very Fawlty Towers), there wasn’t a decent meal to be had on the whole island, it was crowded and the Blue Lagoon was choking with exhaust fumes from the boats. The only saving grace was that it was my honeymoon, so we laughed a lot and had a good time anyway!

• Tell us your favourite hotel: in the UK; in mainland Europe; in the rest of the world.

I really don’t have a favourite hotel in the UK or in Europe. I tend not to stay in them on holiday here (I do more camping, or small guest houses). In the ‘rest of the world’, my favourite hotel is not really a hotel. It is Sarara Camp (pictured top left), a simple, remote, rustic camp in the northern Laikipia region of Kenya. I went there 2 years ago and would love to go back. It’s in a fabulous setting near the Mathews Ranges and is owned by the local community. The game viewing is excellent but it’s also relaxing and quiet. It’s a very special place.

• What is the most exciting project your company is working on right now?

We’ve started offering Mauritius recently so getting that going is quite exciting. However I’m currently more ensconced in looking at how we present our company as a whole. We’ve been going for over 11 years now, and it doesn’t hurt to re-look at how your company might be seen by clients and make some changes.

• Thank you, Amanda.

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