Responsible Tourism is about using tourism to make better places to live in and better places to visit, in that order. Responsible Tourism recognises the interests of local people and that great places to live are great places to visit. Friends over the weekend told me about visits to Rome, Notre Dame and Versailles where the scale of tourism is destroying tourism. When tourism becomes unsustainable the quality of the visitor experience may decline – managing tourism to maintain the quality of life for local people and to ensure a quality visitor experience is a challenge in increasing numbers of destinations.
Responsible Tourism puts people, their quality of life and the conservation of their natural and cultural heritage at the heart of tourism. As we see in the Responsible Tourism programme at WTM each year it is about addressing particular issues, increasing positive impacts and reducing negative ones. This year’s programme is now on the WTM website – 15 sessions over all four days of WTM ranging from partnerships for better tourism in destinations, through local economic development, social inclusion, wildlife conservation, animal welfare, employment conditions and more. It is a broad agenda – but it is all focused on making tourism better for local people and tourism, for hosts and their guests.
Perhaps the crucial challenge for environmentalists is to put people at the heart of their work. The Welsh Government has done just that. Earlier this month the Welsh Government introduced a Bill to ensure the sustainable development of Wales, they put the Welsh people at the heart of it. The Well-being of Future Generations Bill has people-centred objectives: a prosperous; resilient; healthier; more equal Wales; with cohesive communities; and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. The influence of Brundtland is strong, ‘the Bill strengthens existing governance arrangements for improving the well-being of Wales in order to ensure that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ Wisely the Welsh Government is defining the long term development path for Wales, promoting the economic, social and environmental wellbeing and enhancing people’s quality of life in Wales.
Can we achieve that through Responsible Tourism?