The Platform for Change Directory

The Platform for Change Directory

Over the last twenty years, many tourism businesses and destinations have developed proven solutions to the issues which arise from tourism. This Solutions Platform provides many examples of reducing negative impacts and increasing positive impacts, using tourism to benefit communities and their natural and cultural environment. Many, but by no means all, of these solutions have been recognised in WTM’s Responsible Tourism Awards.

We plan to place on this open-source platform as many examples as we can find of proven solutions. The travel and tourism sector has developed many labels and logos asserting that this or that form of tourism, destination or business is “better” than the competitors. Responsible Tourism was not envisaged as a consumer-facing label, although it has been very successful for Responsible Travel. Responsible Tourism is a broad movement composed of all those taking responsibility and making a demonstrable difference. Responsibility is what it takes to achieve sustainability and to contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This platform seeks to present as many proven solutions as possible. This Platform for Change is designed to encourage replication. We want to showcase solutions that businesses and destinations have developed and proven and which can be replicated and adapted in order that collectively we can accelerate change.

A credible, proven solution will have the following characteristics:

  1. A clearly defined problem or opportunity to make tourism better for hosts, and their natural and cultural environment.
  2. A tried and tested solution that
  3. is presented in enough detail that it can be adapted and replicated.
  4. It is proven by transparency about the extent of the responsibility taken and the sharing of demonstrable evidence of the impact of the initiative.

Certification does not deliver on transparency nor on accountability. more

Businesses can implement some solutions acting alone, but many require cooperation with suppliers, clients, competitors and neighbours. Some of the solutions presented on this platform show great promise but are as yet unproven – they will be identified as “one to watch”. The travel and tourism sector rarely looks at progress being made in other sectors, even when it is happening nearby or could easily be replicated. We are keen to identify solutions from beyond the travel and tourism sector and to include them on this platform

JoAnna Haugen writes about how important it is for those in travel and tourism to break out of the silo we so often confine ourselves to.  Too often, the tourism industry talks of destinations, forgetting that they were created by the people who live there now and their forbears.

“Tourism cannot be separate from the destinations where people travel and the locals who live there. Working in a silo undermines local efforts, needs, and expectations. Working in a silo also means there is a huge lost opportunity to empower local knowledge, better connect travelers to universal issues on a personal level, and help travelers take meaningful action in their own lives.”

As JoAnna points out, if tourism is to benefit local communities, “it needs to take a more active role in supporting what already exists at the community level to support sustainable development — adding value to these destinations.” She has some practical advice about how to do this and an example: Waste Management in Nigeria.  In this way, tourism can assist communities to become more sustainable and enable travellers and holidaymakers to have a richer, more engaged experience of the place and its people.

If you know of proven solutions or “ones to watch”, please send details to

The Platforms

  1. The Business cases for Responsible Tourism
    This platform section will make the business case, with evidence on market trends and changes in attitudes to sustainability & meaningful connections. It will also include those issues which carry serious reputational risks like modern slavery, the exploitation of children and the importance of maintaining a license to operate.
  2. Biodiversity
    In December 2020, Antonio Guterres pointed to our folly: “Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal. Nature always strikes back – and it is already doing so with growing force and fury. Biodiversity is collapsing. One million species are at risk of extinction. Ecosystems are disappearing before our eyes,” he said. This is the bad news. The good news is that “Human activities are at the root of our descent toward chaos. But that means human action can help to solve it.”
  3. Decarbonisation
    The issue: greenhouse gas emissions. Solutions: Aviation, Cruise, Accommodation, Ground Transportation
  4. Inclusion
    The issues: including the differently-abled, engaging with diversity and challenging discrimination on race, ethnicity and GLBTQ, employment, gender, ethical employment and human rights, local economic development and poverty reduction. Tolerance, international understanding and peace?
  5. Pollution & Waste
    The issues: waste, plastic, recycling, recycling and the circular economy
  6. Destination Management
    The issues: How much and what kind of tourism? Governance & Regulation, Water, Overtourism: the Tragedy of the Commons, climate change impacts, Cultural Heritage. Marketing rather than promotion; marketing as a tool for attracting less disruptive visitors.
  7. Adaptation & Resilience
    The issues: Covid, extreme weather and climate change, how to manage insurance costs and cope with disruption in destinations due to extreme weather events.
  8. How to do it
    Connecting with the neighbours to make more sustainable communities and places more
    Building sustainable engagement with your local community, seven key learnings for best practice in community engagement more
    People Power: How My Green Butler makes guests and staff partners in sustainable hospitality more
    Story Telling “Around the world, people have found creative ways of responding to some of the world’s most pressing issues. It’s time we hear their stories.” more
If we have missed significant issues – please point this out to

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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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