When we first campaigned in the UK for Responsible Tourism back in late 1990s it was often argued that Responsible Tourism was only relevant in developing countries. We had to argue hard that all forms of tourism, everywhere, could be more responsible – that Responsible Tourism is about using tourism to make better places for people to live in and that better places to live in are better places to visit.
The Responsible Tourism Awards announced each year at WTM in November on World Responsible Tourism Day have established the range of businesses that are able to take responsibility for making tourism better – from Eurostar and Thomson Airways to Campo and Parque dos Sonhos and Kutch Adventures. Nominations for this year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards are now open – and you can nominate who you think should win here.
The Irish Responsible Tourism Awards were announced at the International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations last week in Dublin. There were 450 nominations and the judges had many excellent businesses to choose form for the gold and silver awards. The overall winner was Atlantic Sea Kayaking and Wild Atlantic Walks, run by Jim and Maria Kennedy, who are pioneers of Responsible Tourism and international ambassadors for Ireland.
Ireland has not featured often in the Responsible Tourism Awards, although Cavan was recognised last year for its achievements in accessible tourism. The economic crisis in Ireland in 2008 hit the industry hard, particularly the more mainstream product. But there has been a flowering of more authentic Responsible Tourism experiences and this was reflected in the awards last week. Many of those recognised in Dublin – the Gold winners are in the photo below – would fare well in the global awards and we hope that they will enter.
Destinations like the Loop Head Peninsular, Sheeps Head, the Burren and Mulranny demonstrate how communities working together can use tourism to create great better places to live and make first class destinations. Cultural heritage destinations like Cnoc Suain (restful hill), a restored 17th century hill-village set in 200 acres of Connemara’s ancient bogland, the Hotel Doolin, Archways B&B, and the Burren Smokehouse are all world class. The Responsible Tourism experiences in Ireland are richly authentic – take a look at depth and range of what is available.