Responsibility matters for businesses communities and destinations

Responsibility matters for businesses communities and destinations

The Responsible Tourism movement is broad, it encompasses all those who are actively making tourism more sustainable. The taking of responsibility is demonstrated by action. It is about making better places to live in and better places to visit – in that order. What matters is the evidence that the business or destination is taking action to make tourism better – the label is unimportant, unless it is greenwashing. Regrettably, there is a lot of that in travel and tourism.

Apply the simple test, ask the business destination what they are doing and ask what their intervention has achieved. It is time to challenge ourselves to do more.

President Biden has pointed out that we have entered a critical decade “… scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade – this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis… the world beyond 1.5 degrees means more frequent and intense fires, floods, droughts, heatwaves and hurricanes – tearing through communities, ripping away lives and livelihoods, increasingly dire impacts to our public health…. We can’t resign ourselves to that future.  We have to take action, all of us.” Now we’ve seen the wildfires and other consequences for human health, other species and the environment in the pacific northwest. It is no longer an academic debate about the science of climate change – the change is upon us and we need to adapt to it. The agenda for action is no longer only about mitigation, we have procrastinated for so long that we have now to mitigate and adapt. more

Since 2004 when we launched the Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM we have seen hundreds of businesses and destinations where people have taken responsibility, they have seen a problem, seen that they can do something about it and taken action.

WTM, London has launched a Platform for Change to facilitate the sharing of solutions to the diverse challenges of sustainability. The Responsible Tourism agenda is broad from the crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and growing inequality to child protection, overtourism and the challenge of engendering respect between guests and hosts

Between now and WTM, London in November we shall be publishing a whole range of proven solutions to the challenges faced by our sector in this critical decade. Many of the examples which will feature on these pages of solutions will be drawn from the winners of the Responsible Tourism Awards, including doubtless many of those that are entered for this year’s Global Responsible Tourism Awards. This year’s categories are listed in the graphic below. Remember that we can only select the best from amongst those that enter and that the Awards close for nominations and entries on August 31st.

It is cause for regret that so many of those who are taking responsibility and addressing the issues that matter are not communicating their commitment and achievements clearly enough.’s annual survey of consumer attitudes has shown a steady increase in the number of travellers and holidaymakers aspiring to travel and holiday more sustainably. They can be angered by our failure, 53% said in responding to’s research that they get annoyed if somewhere they are staying stops them from being sustainable, for example, by not providing recycling facilities. Nearly half of all travellers and holidaymakers believe that there are not enough sustainable travel options available. And it isn’t just the green agenda 84% believe increasing cultural understanding and preservation of cultural heritage is crucial; 76% want to ensure the economic impact of the industry is spread equally in all levels of society.

Some complain that it takes time to apply for a Responsible Tourism Award. It does, the judges want to know about what you have done and to understand why you should win an award. That does take time.

But, if you were already communicating your responsibility to consumers, the travel media, your supply chain and your neighbours, it would require very little additional effort to enter the awards. If you are communicating what you are doing and what you have achieved for the first time, in order to enter the awards then take the hint – use it on you website and with the media. Get noticed, thrive.

Glynn O’Leary explains why they enter the awards – it is no vanity project.

  1. WTM Launches a “Platform for Change” 
  2. Climate Change: time to adapt?
  3. Building back better 
  4. Decarbonising Aviation 
  5. New Responsible Tourism School Launched 
  6. The Regional Awards in the Global Responsible Tourism Awards
  7. Covid-19 is not going away
  8. Sustainable Hospitality Alliance 
  9. World Heritage in Danger 
  10. Miscellany

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Harold is WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, he puts together the flagship Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London which attracted 4000 participants in 2020 and the programmes run at WTM Africa, WTM Latin America and Arabian Travel Market. Harold has worked on 4 continents with local communities, their governments and the inbound and outbound tourism industry. He is Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and chairs the panels of judges for the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the other Awards in the family, Africa, India and Latin America. Harold works with industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists and undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is an Emeritus Professor, and Founder Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which he drafted.

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