Huw Owen (Independent Studies, 2000, Fylde) - third from left - reflects on Lancaster and the launch of his responsible tourism initiative

"Lancaster was the gateway to the world for me. After graduation I moved to Japan to teach in their secondary schooling system as part of the JET Programme (a Japanese government scheme to aid the teaching of English in schools). There were quite a few fellow Lancaster graduates there - we caught up regularly (and still do). On the way back from Japan I stopped off in Central Asia - I had wanted to visit since I was a teenager, and finally got my chance in 2002. I didn't fully understand this at the time but that knowledge of somewhere so unusual made me stand out. I found work in the travel industry, creating bespoke trips for customers all over Britain (and increasingly around the world). It was a great education in how businesses really work - supply chains, contracting, legal frameworks, innovation and leadership. After a stint in management at the same company I moved with my wife to Cambodia to be the director of a travel company based there. It was a privilege to live somewhere so beautiful - we often reminisce about the people, the culture...and the food!

Then I got two lucky breaks at the same time - I was hired as a consultant by the UN, working in Egypt, Turkey and Uganda working on tourism development projects. In parallel I was approached by a friend with a business idea - which became TravelLocal. The UN work was fascinating and laid the groundwork for the brand that TravelLocal became - a grassroots initiative, committed to responsible tourism, that is overturning the dominance of giant companies in the travel industry, one trip at a time.  

Last year TravelLocal gained significant investment and we have located ourselves in the heart of Britain's second biggest tech cluster in Bristol. I just about juggle that with raising a young family in the Cotswolds!" www.travellocal.com