Responsible Tourism is about businesses, destination managers and travellers taking responsibility for the impacts of tourism, minimising the negative ones and maximising the positive. This year’s Responsible Tourism programme at WTM addresses many, but by no means all, of the issues. There are no panels on accessible tourism or volunteering this year, as we have run them every year for the last four years. We shall return to them in due course. If you feel that there are issues we ought to address in the next couple of years, please email me.
On Monday, the Director of Classic Collection Holidays, Martin Brackenbury, is interviewing Jordi William Carnes, General Manager of Turisme de Barcelona and Antonello de’ Medici Venice Area, Managing Director for Starwood Hotels. They’ll be discussing the problems these two cities are experiencing from the rapid growth in overnight tourists and day excursionists.
In both cities there have been protests by residents about the impact of tourism on their lives. Cruise passengers are part of the problem in both places and they’ll be represented to discuss what they can do to reduce the negative and increase the positive impacts. Garry Wilson of TUI and Nikki White of ABTA will be also on the panel to share their thoughts about what the outbound industry can do to make tourism better and to engage in what is likely to be a lively debate.
With the Paris Climate Change Conference opening at the end of November, and because of the importance of climate change to all of us, we have three major sessions on how the tourism industry can play its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the negative impacts. On Tuesday there is a panel sharing examples of how increasing carbon efficiency makes business sense by improving the bottom line. At WTM Africa earlier this year, one hotel General Manager in the audience said that any GM not investing in energy efficiency was insane.
This year’s Stephen Sackur interview will follow a hard hitting presentation by Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate at the University of Manchester. Professor Anderson will explain just how serious the situation is. Stephen will then interview Richard Mills, Strategy Director at Boeing UK & Ireland and Brigitta Witt, Global Head, Corporate Responsibility, Hyatt, about what the industry is doing to reduce emissions and ask them why it is not doing more.
He’ll then turn to Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of UNWTO and Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism of South Africa to ask about what governments and international agencies can do to achieve changes in policy which will tackle the threat of climate change. Finally on climate change, this year’s Wednesday afternoon debate will address the motion: This House believes that the tourism industry could do a great deal more to take responsibility for reducing carbon emissions and urges it to do so. Come along and vote.
Hunting, canned hunting, dolphins, sharks and turtles are being discussed in the wildlife panel, as there has been recent controversy about all these issues. Meanwhile, in the panel on child protection some very high powered experts will be sharing their thoughts about what more the industry can do to counter all forms of child abuse.
Turning to enhancing the positive impacts of travel – we have four very different approaches to destination management and development in the panel on the role of government. We have some good examples of initiatives to increase the local economic benefits of tourism; examples of women working to achieve gender equality; of good practices in snow tourism and cruising; and in the final panel of the week, we ask of food and beverage tourism: if it’s responsible, can you taste the difference?
New this year is the closing panel on Tuesday – likely to become a regular feature – where four changemakers will be challenged to explain how they have made a difference. This year Adama Bah, Justin Francis, Sallie Grayson and Jo Hendrickx are in the spotlight, We’ll see what they reveal about how to progress Responsible Tourism.
This year too there is a dedicated Responsible Tourism stand at AF 568. It’s a great place to meet likeminded people and to find out about what’s happening in RT at the show. There’s also a Responsible Tourism Speed Networking event first thing on World Responsible Tourism Day. And on Wednesday evening 18:00-20:00 there are Festival events on the stands on the show floor – look out for details.
I hope you’ll find the Responsible Tourism programme stimulating and enjoyable – tell your friends and bring your colleagues along.