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Responsible tourism Awards

Interview with Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Sophie Ellis BextorTo launch the Awards for 2011, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor talks to Lisa Scott of Metro about her travel experiences and why being a responsible tourist is the only way to get under the skin of another country.


Iíve travelled all over the world but I love taking breaks in Britain.

We have some great destinations here Ė the Norfolk Broads, the New Forest and the Isle of Wight, among lots of others. Iím going to the Lake District for a friendís wedding and I genuinely canít wait. Iíve heard itís one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

I love foreign food and will try anything once.

Food is such an important part of understanding other cultures. They love showing off in Jakarta. I ate a bizarre meal there once Ė the duck came with its head still on and the shellfish were desperately trying to crawl out of the pot to escape being eaten.

I find my faith in humanity is restored when I meet people from other places around the world, particularly those who live in poorer communities.

There is a real sense of self-reliance Ė using the local environment to sustain the community. I believe we have a responsibility to support local communities and the environment, and the people who do this well through tourism should be rewarded Ėthatís why I support these awards.

Thereís a real old-fashioned glamour attached to train journeys.

Iíve taken lots of train journeys and recently travelled from Moscow to St Petersburg overnight. The carriages had traditional details with wood panelling and velvet interiors. We each had a room with a bed, a sink and a wardrobe. It was like a mini hotel. We sat in the dining carriage drinking vodka and bellinis.

As a child, my family holidays were in Polruan, in Cornwall, with my mum, former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis. We went with my stepdad and my little brothers. Itís such a beautiful part of the world and has its own microclimate, which explains why it is so much warmer than other parts of the country. A lot of people donít stray too far from the beaches but if youíre a little bit adventurous you can find somewhere where there is nobody else about. I love that about it.

Itís easy to support small businesses when youíre abroad.

I love cooking at home and exploring foreign supermarkets when Iím on holiday, so I always try to use local ingredients and make my own meals where I can. I always like to bring home some sort of olive oil, too. France was the first foreign country I went to, so it will always have a place in my heart. One of my dreams is to live in Paris; they just do everything so well there, plus travelling on the Eurostar is so efficient and much better than flying.

New Zealand and Istanbul are two of my favourite places in the world.

However, I do love the slow Italian approach to life. You often see children in restaurants late at night playing with their grandmother.

My home is covered in Mexican art from the tiny markets in Mexico City, which is great for arts and crafts.

Iíve got lots of Frida Kahlo and Day of the Dead stuff. I love their approach to life and death.

Part of the beauty of travelling is immersing yourself in a different culture for a short time.

Whatís the point in going abroad and doing exactly what you do at home?

This interview appeared exclusively in the Metro Newspaper on Friday 15 April 2011.

Check out our other celebrity supporters.
Claude Graves, Nihiwatu, overall winner 2010
Read about our winners