Responsible Tourism issues are more than just environmental

WRTD discussionOne of the principles of World Travel Market’s World Responsible Tourism Day is that it is not just about the environment. This year we will be tackling water and carbon. But we shall also be looking at issues such as social challenges, meeting the needs of people with disabilities, volunteering responsibly, taking responsibility for child protection, employment conditions and local economic development.

And in November we are also going to be looking at certification. What is its role in achieving successful sustainable businesses?

mazzard holiday cottagesRuud Jansen Venneboer is the Chair of East Devon Excellence and he owns and runs Mazzard Farm holiday cottages. Mazzard Farm Cottages have withdrawn from certification after nearly five years in the system. Despite this in 2012 they were again crowned Devon’s most sustainable tourism business winning the gold award in Visit Devon’s tourism awards.

Ruud asks: “So what do we think is wrong with a set of questions and tick boxes when it comes to striving to be ‘as green as possible’ you may ask? Not a lot, especially if ‘being green’ is your key objective. But it is 2013 now, and what we aspire to is not just being as environmentally sound as we can be; we want to be as sustainable as possible. And being a sustainable tourism business takes a lot more than a recycling policy, LED lighting, a compost heap, and a few Renewables on site.”

For them the key issues for a sustainable tourism business are to be firmly rooted in their local community. Ruud writes: “We work hard to try and make our guests appreciate, support, and engage with this same community too. We do this by informing them we ‘buy local’, why we do so, and why we think they may have a much richer holiday experience if they do so too. We spend a lot of time promoting local things to do, and enthusiastically telling our guests about all the beauty they can find (almost literally) on their temporary doorstep. Doing this hits two birds with one stone: they help support our local community, and they significantly cut down on car miles whilst here at Mazzard Farm. Oh and by the way, they tend to have a much more enjoyable holiday too.”

What do you think?

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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.

One comment

  1. ben keene says:

    Fair point Harold, but this also seems like operational common sense. Whatever label ‘….’ tourism we give, it always should be about decision-making around economic, social and environmental sustainability. We’ve always found that word of mouth works better than certification as far as customers are concerned.

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