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Interview with Russ Hedge, CEO Hostelling International USA

22 September 2016
22 Sep 2016 -

A long-time supporter of WYSE Travel Confederation, Russ became CEO of HI USA more than 15 years ago. He has merged 27 entities into one national organisation.

What responsibility does the travel community have to do something about terrorist incidents, disaffected youth and media scare tactics following terrorist incidents?

Not just governments but also travel companies need to become less reactive and more proactive around sending out positive messages during times of terrorism. US companies have been quick to respond to their environmental responsibility but aren’t quick off the mark when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility, should change.

Voluntourism is clearly a major motivator for you, what makes this form of tourism so important in your mind?

Travellers, at least modern youth travellers are looking for ‘local experiences’ not just visiting a destination. In my mind this is best achieved through a volunteer project, be that in a local community project while in a hostel or more remotely in a tour program. At HI we actively offer local community engagement for our guests and the feedback is very positive.

Do you think the international exposure the presidential race is receiving in the media is having a positive impact on inbound youth tourism to the US?

Interesting question, and in fact specifically our Washington DC hostel has seen a spike in this issue. International visitors are actively visiting our capital to find out how our government operates and what this race is all about.

For more of Russ’s insights and opinions read ‘Political unrest and media’, where he is one to answer serious questions regarding how to respond to terrorism.