Dr Anna Spenceley

Associate, England 

Anna SpenceleyExperience

Anna is a tourism consultant with over 20 years’ international experience. She is an expert in sustainable and responsible tourism. She was a founding director of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and sits on their Destination and International Standards working groups. Anna has a reputation for excellence with the ability to lead and collaborate with multi-disciplinary and multi-language teams.

Her work is applied through policy and strategy development, planning, project development, research, training, curriculum development, conferences and workshops, capacity building, education and monitoring. She focuses on analytical approaches, participatory processes, practical and appropriate solutions, with clear reporting and measurable results. She has made a considerable contribution to the global debate on sustainable tourism, notably through her international networks.

She has a solid understanding of ecotourism trends and demands of the ecotourism sector including experience in:

  • Financial Modelling of Tourism Development projects, including for the EU in Garamba National Park, for UNDP – BIOFIN in Bhutan, and development of tourism concessions and partnership guidelines
  • Work on concept design of tourism development, mid-term and final evaluations, for the World Bank group, EU, USAID, UNDP, UNWTO, and SNV in Africa and Asia, including GEF PPGs.
  • Experience of ecotourism ventures in logistically challenging areas, including remote areas in Africa and Asia, with numerous publications on these.

Core skills and qualifications

Anna has a BSc in zoology and psychology from the University of Bristol (UK) (1st class), a MSc in environmental technology from Imperial College, University of London (UK) (distinction) and a PhD in school of earth and environmental sciences, from the University of Greenwich (UK).

Anna’s affiliations include the following:

  • Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group.
  • Member of the Travalyst Independent Advisory Panel, Led by HRH The Duke of Sussex
  • Member of several IUCN commissions and specialist groups: IUCN WCPA; Species Survival Commission; Sustainable Use and Livelihoods (SULi) group, Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP); Transboundary Specialist Group
  • Member of the multi-stakeholder advisory committee of One Planet’s sustainable tourism program, led by UNWTO and UNEP.
  • Editorial board of the Journal for Sustainable Tourism, the Journal of Educational Travel and also the journal of South African National Parks – Koedoe
  • Honorary Fellow, School of Sport and Service Management, University of Brighton; Senior Research Fellow, School of Tourism and Hospitality, University of Johannesburg; Advisory Fellow, African Wildlife Economy Institute.

Anna is editor of the book ‘Responsible Tourism: Critical issues for Conservation and Development’ and also co-editor of ‘Evolution and Innovation in Wildlife Conservation’ and ‘Tourism and poverty reduction’. She is co-author of the book ‘Private sector tourism in conservation areas in Africa’. Anna is co-editor of various technical guidelines, including the IUCN’s Tourism and visitor management in protected areas, and the Convention on Biological Diversity’s “Guidelines for tourism partnerships and concessions for protected areas.” She is currently editing the Edward Elgar book “Handbook for sustainable tourism practitioners: The essential toolbox” and the UNESCO/EU/BfN guideline “Visitor counts! Guidance for protected areas on the economic analysis of visitation”.


Working in sustainable and responsible tourism, Anna has a particular focus on biodiversity, conservation and protected areas. She has lived and worked in English, French and Portuguese-speaking developing countries for 20 years, contributing to her ability to collaborate with multi-language teams.