WTM London is the largest Responsible Tourism event in the world. We focus on the solutions with a programme designed to help businesses and destinations thrive in increasingly difficult circumstances as the world bumps up against the limits to growth. The tourism sector cannot stand aside from the challenges of climate change, decarbonisation and biodiversity loss.
We can make a difference if we take a responsible approach and evolve out business models. Increasingly consumers expect this, as they see other sectors and some parts of our industry offering options that are more responsible. It makes good business sense. We have seen over the last couple of years significant negative coverage in the mainstream press about the challenge of overtourism – no destination has an infinite capacity to accept more tourists.
Two weeks ago, I posted a blog on the need for businesses and destination governments to step up and take responsibility for making the choices that will make our sector sustainable. We have panels at WTM London with industry experts considering what we can do to address decarbonisation of the sector, aviation, the challenge of building sustainable hotels, ensure water security, develop resilient destinations, conserve wildlife & biodiversity, reduce plastic waste and manage sites so that they are not damaged by overtourism. Find out more
In my last blog the focus was on the existential threats posed by climate change, biodiversity loss, plastic waste and drought and solutions to these challenges. The challenge of building sustainable hotels is not solved and we have a panel addressing this. What are the solutions?
One of the key challenges for destinations is ensuring the safety and security of tourists. We have a panel with three ministers from Sri Lanka, South Africa, and the Caribbean, a former minister from Spain and the UK’s ABTA probing the solutions to this challenge.
Monday 4th November 13:45-14:45 Taking Responsibility for Safety & Security
For countries and destinations, reputational risks can be high when incidents happen whether they are caused by natural disasters, health scares, crime, conflicts, or actions by terrorists, so the protection of tourists, investments and livelihoods is essential. What can be done to minimise the risks and create greater resilience? What measures should be in place in destinations to provide reassurance to visitors?
Tourism has the potential bring local economic development and decent employment.
Monday 4th November 10:15– 11:45 Tourism a Strategy for Development?
How effective is tourism as a development strategy? Which forms of tourism can create inclusive growth, contributing to growing a diversified local economy, creating local employment and raising the standards of living of local people in a sustainable way?
Wednesday 6th November 13:30 – 14:00 Enhancing Employment in Hospitality
Kevin Curran Vice-Chair of Unite London Hotel Workers Branch and Kate Nicholls, CEO, UK Hospitality discuss the scale of the challenge and how it can be addressed.
Wednesday 6th November 14:15 – 15:30 Decent Employment
The industry suffers for its reputation on low paid casual work. What can the industry do to counter this perception and demonstrate the opportunities, which exist within the sector for progression? Here are some great examples of our industry reaching out to give the vulnerable and excluded a helping hand into employment and promotion.
Time to celebrate
On Monday at 17:00 there is reception to celebrate the International Tourism Partnership’s youth employment programme, Youth Career Initiative (YCI) Join us for drinks and canapés to learn more about this life-changing programme and celebrate the impact that it’s had on the lives of over 5,000 young people around the world.
The challenge of managing increasing numbers of tourists in destinations is growing rapidly we have panels on manging overcrowding at sites and sustainable cities. Barcelona is going to share its cutting-edge solutions to managing and regulating P2P hosting.
Monday 4th November 11:45 – 12:30 Using technology to manage accommodation & tourism responsibly in Barcelona
Barcelona is innovating with the use of information and communication technologies in order to address such negative effects. One of the main problems of leading destinations is the steady growth of illegal hosting. In Barcelona, a spider web has been created as a fundamental tool to fight against it. The designed processes and operations implemented in the city will be explained during this session.
The Responsible Tourism agenda is broader than the sustainable tourism agenda. We have panels this year on inclusive accessible tourism, transparent reporting, increasing understanding between people and child protection.
Monday 4th November 14:45-15:30 Tourism for All – the business case for inclusive tourism
This year we are pushing the agenda further and looking at expanding the opportunities for adventurous travel for people with disabilities and to consider what can be done to enable those people with disabilities and low incomes to enjoy a holiday and travel. For more on the issue
Monday 4th November 15:30-16:15 Transparent Reporting
Transparency is a core value for Responsible Tourism. Businesses, destinations and communities determine the issues which need to be addressed. Businesses and destinations decide what they can do to address them. The industry needs to move beyond certification, consumers need to be able to choose hotels which are particularly good on carbon, water or labour conditions, according to their preference, and when the provider fails to deliver on the certificate they need to be able to secure recompense.
Tuesday 5th November 11:00-11:30 Travel Broadens the Mind – can we do more?
Tourists are increasingly demanding memorable experiences, opportunities for meaningful connections with local people. One of the great benefits of travel and tourism is the opportunities it creates for people from very different religions, cultures and backgrounds to meet and for the traveller or tourist to learn more of the history and way of life of the communities they visit.
Tuesday 5th November 11:30-12:15 Child Protection – what is better than orphanages?
There has been a session on child protection every year since 2011 raising awareness of the trafficking and exploitation of children, many of them not orphans, to secure donations and visit fees from tourists and tourism businesses. This year we are focusing on what tourists and tourism businesses can do to support children and their extended families in the community and those orphaned.
The full Responsible Tourism programme can be accessed easily online, and printed off here. At the Wold Responsible Tourism Awards we shall see some of the world’s leading Responsible Tourism businesses recognised for their work – an example to all of us of what can be achieved by businesses and destinations adapting to a rapidly changing environment. This is not about philanthropy, it is about changing the way we do our business, maintaining profitability, assuring our future.
Don’t miss the opening of the World Responsible Tourism Day and the World Responsible Tourism Awards at 11:00 on Wednesday 6th in the Europe Inspiration Zone.
WTM has launched a new Responsible Tourism portal offering easy access to valuable content on solutions to the challenges we face. You will be able to access the judges’ reasons there from 15:00 on November 6th.
Don’t miss the Responsible Tourism Café new this year, a place to meet others taking responsibility for tourism. There are Responsible Tourism videos and Budge’s hard-hitting How Many Elephants Exhibition bridging the gap between scientific data and human connection, showcasing 35,000 elephant silhouettes to visually show the poaching data and the sheer scale of the crisis.