Highlights of the WTM London Responsible Tourism Programme Sessions – Tuesday 3 November

Highlights of the WTM London Responsible Tourism Programme Sessions – Tuesday 3 November

Child Protection

This year’s child protection session progressed from last year’s focus on understanding how child abuse issues are intertwined with tourism, to exploring what the industry can do to help protect children. Both Lew Hunt from the National Crime Agency and Ashley Robinson, Assistant Director, of Border Force at Heathrow Airport called on the travel industry to educate its workers to know what the warning signs are when they encounter people travelling with children, and to report any concerns to the relevant authorities.

Francis West from Unicef urged companies to ensure adults are paid a living wage so as to lessen pressures on families to send their children out to work. He added that because 60-70% of the industry are women, often working late shifts in countries were most of the childcare is done by women, it means that children of families who live and work in tourism zones are often left unattended. He suggested the industry look to adopt a more flexible approach to working hours for mothers, and provide afterschool care for their children.

Rebecca Smith from Save the Children introduced a new initiative involving child protection organisations and responsible volunteering companies called Better Volunteering, Better Care. The organisation has three goals –  to raise awareness of the risk to children in residential care centres (so called to make the point that although more commonly called orphanages, many of the children within them are not orphans). Second, to create behaviour change among travellers. And thirdly to support and promote those companies who seek to develop responsible volunteering.

Emanuelle Warner from Friends International said the industry needs to both shift away from funding orphanages while supporting them to redevelop their operations towards looking after children and the wider community without removing these children from their families.

Taking Responsibility for Wildlife and National Parks

Speaking about the captive lions industry in South Africa, and tourism operations that take guests to walk with them or pet the cubs, David Nash, European Coordinator, Campaign Against Canned Hunting, said: “There are 6000 lions on 200 hundred reserves, raised by volunteers, petted by tourists, shot by hunters.”

Citing the Cecil the Lion furore, Dilys Roe, Principal Researcher Biodiversity at International Institute for Environment and Development, said: “We need to avoid assuming that the bad examples of hunting that make the news stories characterise the whole industry.” She said there is much conflicting information on the potential merits or otherwise of hunting and conservation, with some saying trophy hunting is driving extinction of lions and other species; but others saying loss of habitat and depletion of prey species are more significant factors; and the US Fish and Wildlife Service saying well managed trophy hunting supports conservation. she added that for rural communities in Africa, the banning of hunting makes “Wildlife a liability to be avoided rather than an asset to be protected.”

The role of government in managing tourism in Destinations

“Governments need to ask what the real impact of tourism is rather than just how many people are coming,” says Heidi Van Der Watt from Better Tourism Africa. She said the sort of questions they should rather be asking concern yield per tourist, geographic distribution of that yield, distribution of ownership of tourism and income from it, reduction in resource consumption, reduction in waste, change in local purchasing, and contribution to household income.

The challenge, said Caroline Warburton from the Scottish Tourism Alliance, is to “ensure sustainability is permeating all government tourism strategies, and work out how we measure the impacts to understand what is really working.”

Carbon Resource Efficiency Good Practice

Describing the various wider impacts from their highly successful efforts to make their Cape Town’s airport hotel ‘the greenest hotel in Africa’, Sarah Ferrell from Hotel Verde explained that increasingly business guests use their hotel specifically because they can mitigate their emissions during their stay. Furthermore, the hotel sees a much higher percentage of return guests than the industry average, and staff report much higher levels of work satisfaction and reduced staff turnover. Ferrell explained that to drive engagement from its staff in its efforts, the company provides monthly environmental training, runs themed interdepartmental competitions around green issues, and even sends staff to landfill sites so they see for themselves what waste production means. Speaking to other hotels who have put less effort into adaptation than Hotel Verde, Professor Callum Thomas, Chair of Sustainable Aviation from Manchester University said: “If you adapt to the changes being brought about by climate change you’ll be around in 30 years. If you don’t you won’t.”

Increasing the local economic benefits of tourism

For companies looking to do more about their own impacts, Jenefer Bobbin of JUSTreport announced that her organisation is launching new tools for environmental monitoring, and that these are to be followed by social monitoring tools early next year. Jacqui Boardman from Carnstone Partners LLP said not only will tourism contribute 10% to global GDP this year, but also ‘there’s such a buzz around tourism that it can promote social cohesion.’ She added that “we may be competitors as an industry, but we need to get together and collaborate to solve the problems we face.”

Having told the story of the Loop Head peninsula’s sustainable development of its region’s tourism over the last few years, and how they have designed the entire process to protect their remote and fragile environment, the chairperson of Loop Head Tourism, Cillian Murphy said: “It’s Ok for a destination to say no to tourism, or to a type of tourism they don’t want, because you know what, it’s their home.”

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About World Travel Market

World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend four-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.

Almost 52,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.

WTM, now in its 36th year, is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals. WTM 2014 will generate around £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts.

World Travel Market is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s WTM portfolio, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa.  www.wtmworld.com

WTM Portfolio

The World Travel Market Portfolio is comprised of the leading leisure travel events in the world; World Travel Market in London, WTM Latin America in Sao Paulo, WTM Africa in Cape Town and Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.

The WTM Portfolio’s events are attended by the global travel and tourism industry’s senior executives to conduct business deals and discover the latest research, insight and opinion.

In 2014, the WTM Portfolio facilitated around $7 billion in industry deals from negotiations between the more than 15,000 buyers, 9,500 exhibitors (1,500 main stand holders and 8,000 stand sharers) in attendance of its four events.

WTM is owned by the worldʼs leading events organiser Reed Exhibitions.

About Reed Exhibitions

Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organizer, with over 500 events in 43 countries. In 2014 Reed brought together over seven million active event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organized by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events and is part of RELX Group, a world leading provider of professional information solutions. www.reedexpo.com

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