Debbie Clarke is Founder and Owner of New Zealand Awaits, an inbound tour company, founded on conscious travel principles.
Like many New Zealanders, Debbie left New Zealand soon after university on her OE (Overseas Experience). She backpacked through inner Mongolia, China, South East Asia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Israel, where she accepted generous invitations from locals to stay in their homes. As a slow, low impact traveller immersed in local communities, Debbie experienced how travel can be transformative. Travel that allows for excitement, exploration, challenge, awe, reflection, time in nature, and deep cross-cultural exchange with locals, can be transformative for both the traveller and the host. Those immersive experiences with locals shaped her outlook on life and inspired her to create similar travel experiences in New Zealand for her New Zealand Awaits guests.
Josie Major is the New Zealand Programmes Manager for GOOD Travel, a Wellington-based social enterprise with the vision of transforming the tourism industry into a force for good. Josie is passionate about tourism’s potential to drive positive change - protecting natural environments, developing resilient communities, and building the cross-cultural understanding and tolerance that is essential for combating increasingly global social and environmental issues. Josie’s work has involved extensive research into sustainable tourism in New Zealand, particularly with the lens of a post-COVID reimagining of the industry. She co-led a Tourism Design Challenge team to explore solutions for tracking and measuring sustainability in the tourism industry, and is the founder and lead coordinator of the Wellington chapter of the Impact Travel Alliance, a global network of responsible tourism advocates.