COVID-19 maybe, for now, the new normal. But, there is some good news too.
COVID-19 is far from defeated; the pandemic remains rampant. Travel and tourism have played a significant role in spreading the virus internationally and domestically. The negative impacts on peoples’ livelihood are increasingly evident as people lose their jobs and businesses. Lockdowns come and go. Trust has become the new currency of tourism and COVID-19 the most significant determinant of demand. There are widespread reports of irresponsible behaviour by tourists; it appears to be a growing problem as people tire of social distancing and enter into a holiday spirit, sometimes fuelled by alcohol.
Racism in Travel & Tourism remains a significant issue, and we shall be addressing it at WTM London along with decarbonising aviation and the biodiversity crises. More detail of the Responsible Tourism programme at WTM in November will be announced in September. The Responsible Tourism sessions this year will be in the virtual show online on 10 & 11 November. There will be eight live panels, with the opportunity for Q & A. They include panels on decarbonising aviation, tourism and the biodiversity crisis, tourism and racism, and resilience and coping with COVID-19. There will also be a few recorded sessions.
Not all the COVID-19 news is bad. We have had over 250 entries for the World Responsible Tourism Awards this year, all of them looking for recognition for what they have done to address COVID-19. There are amongst them some truly inspiring examples of people taking responsibility, stepping up to make a difference. The Commended and Highly Commended will be announced in a virtual ceremony on November 4th. Responsible Tourism has arrived in the USA, and there are new resources on resilience and marketing to counter the pandemic. COVID-19 raises some ethical issues for travellers and some profound questions for communities and their governments about the role and volume of tourism in their places.
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