Responsible Tourism moves centre stage

Responsible Tourism moves centre stage

TUI recently published survey results on UK consumer demand. 62% of UK holidaymakers agree it makes them feel better when they know their holiday was organised with respect for nature and the local community. More and more operators and accommodation providers are recognising that demonstrating their responsibility is no longer just a nice to have – consumer expectations are changing in many source markets and more each year.

For the first time this year, there was standing room only for the Responsible Tourism events at WTM Latin America in Sao Paulo earlier this month. There were lively sessions on engaging with local communities, on purchasing for local communities and the challenges of doing marine tourism in a way which does not have adverse impacts on marine life. Tourists and travellers want to engage with local communities and with wildlife – to get closer to both for a more meaningful and authentic experience. Those operators and accommodation providers who recognise and respond to this trend are securing a market advantage.

In Cape Town, the residents have responded well to the water crisis, they are harvesting rainwater and reducing water consumption. The campaign has been so successful that Day Zero has been pushed back to 2019.  Water levels in the dams are still just over 20%, far better than the very low levels reached in Sao Paulo in 2015. However, in the last week, there has been a spike in demand, it will be hard to keep people motivated to save water. With climate change and three successive years of low rainfall, Cape Town and the Cape has to face up to the very real likelihood that this is the new normal. Major, and expensive, infrastructure change will be needed in public water supply, housing and businesses.

The issue of water is being addressed at WTM Africa this week in a session on Thursday on Carbon, Water and Certification with industry and government speakers. Resource issues are an increasing challenge around the world, but particularly so in Africa, as we bump up against the limits to growth. There is a session on new business models on Wednesday looking at Porter’s concept of shared value and at how the industry can benefit by engaging with local business and communities. On Friday there is a session on Wildlife and Tourism.

opens on Earth Day, next Sunday, in Dubai. We shall be announcing the at the opening event which is a panel on Hospitality over the next 25 years. The challenges of the limits to growth, of water, greenhouse gas emissions and waste will shape the future as will changing consumer demand as more and more holidaymakers, and travellers demand authenticity and engagement, and as they become more aware of the environmental and social challenges. There is a panel on water and energy recognising that these are critical issues in the region, but also that there is valuable expertise there which needs to be shared. The panel on experiential travel covers both wildlife and people and their culture. The challenge of training young people to equip them for employment in the industry is addressed in the final Responsible Tourism panel at ATM this year.

The agenda broadens and becomes more challenging.

See the full ATM Responsible Tourism programme by clicking here.

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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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