Happy 25th Anniversary Rough Guides

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  05.07.07 | 7:50 AM ET

They’re half the age of Arthur Frommer’s guides, and not quite as old as Lonely Planet, but for many travelers Rough Guides are equally influential and loved. Mark Ellingham started the company 25 years ago with a volume on Greece, and several British papers have put together packages celebrating his vision and his travels. The Times compiles a list of 25 wonders of the world, the Independent spends a day with Ellingham and the Guardian asks him and his long-time colleague, Martin Dunford, for their 25 all-time favorite travel experiences.

Ellingham’s first choice? Greek island hopping.

I got an office job for a few months after leaving university and it was the persistent thought of hopping on Greek ferries, and exploring the islands, that made me chuck it in and head to Greece, without a contract, to write the first Rough Guide. There are few things in life so romantic and pleasurable as sitting with a Greek coffee on the quayside, waiting for a boat to edge into harbour and transport you to a new island, with all the promise of a fresh microcosm of life. This is what made me fall in love with travel in the first place and it still hits the button.

Rough Guides is celebrating its own anniversary with a series of 25 books chronicling 25 “ultimate experiences” around the world.


4 Comments for Happy 25th Anniversary Rough Guides

Benji Lanyado 05.07.07 | 9:18 AM ET

he also gave a bit of a rant to the observer yesterday…which is an interesting read…if not slightly paradoxical:

Michael Yessis 05.07.07 | 9:38 AM ET

Thanks for pointing out the story, Benji. Indeed, it is a bit paradoxical. I’m also struck that he compares the travel industry to the tobacco industry. I don’t think that’s a fair comparison.

Mark Ellingham 05.08.07 | 11:48 AM ET

The Observer article was indeed a bit of a rant - but that was the doing of their interviewer, who was determined to write up the story she had composed before talking to me.
I stand right behind the proposal for a £100 “green tax” on tickets for all flights to Europe and Africa, £250 to the rest of the world; hence discouraging binge-flying, and levelling the playing field somewhat for trains. But the article eliminated an important rider, which is that everyone should have one tax-free voucher for a short-haul flight. I do not think travel – or holidays abroad – should be only for the well-off. I just think we must all fly much less, to reduce CO2 emissions, and that taxing flights is the only way that is going to happen.

I should also correct the article’s assertion that I “compared the damage done by tourism to the impact of the tobacco industry”.  I did not. My comparison related explicitly to information: that the travel industry has a responsibility to address the facts of flights and carbon emissions, and must not (in the mode of the tobacco industry) ignore, deny or belittle the issue.

Finally, the Observer reporter suggested that I had no enthusiasm for ethical travel. That is way off the mark. “Ethical travel” is a complex area, and it is hard to weigh up the very real economic benefits of travel, particularly to the developing world, against the impact of carbon emissions from flying. But I am a huge advocate of ethical and green initiatives in the travel industry. Some of them may be skin-deep but others are inspired – and I salute them.

Mark Ellingham
Publisher, Rough Guides

Eva 05.08.07 | 12:56 PM ET

He has a point about low-cost airlines contributing to ‘binge flying’ - people flying from London to Paris just for a lunch or dinner, and to Prague or Budapest or Riga for a stag night.

Then again, maybe I’m only supporting his idea because I don’t want to share a hostel dorm with a rugby team on a stag night ever again…?

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