Responsible Tourism is about finding solutions

Responsible Tourism is about finding solutions

Last Wednesday, we announced those we had commended and highly commended in this year’s World Responsible Tourism Awards, we wanted to recognise those who had shouldered responsibility and addressed the challenges of the pandemic. The Awards this year have, as usual, been well received by those recognised and by others. The Responsible Tourism Awards have always been about recognising innovation and best or better practices and about encouraging others to take up the solutions showcased in the awards.

The Responsible Tourism programmes at WTM tradeshows focus on finding and debating solutions. This year we have just eight sessions, so some regular topics are missing – casualties of the pandemic. We have no panel on child protection, marketing, local economic development, employment or disability this year. But we do have an example from Lemon Tree Hotels who now have across their group 21% differently-abled people and ODIs. This is a really inspiring interview.

On Tuesday at 10:00, we look at Resilience & COVID-19 looking for solutions to how we get travel moving again, how we learn to live with the coronavirus and reflecting on what we have learned over the last year about resilience. At 12:00 we in the panel Build Back Better we hear about the changes in consumer expectations from Germany, Scotland, South Africa, and Crystal Creek Meadows in Australia about how they see the opportunities to restart tourism avoiding over tourism and in a more resilient and sustainable way.

On Tuesday afternoon, we turn to the two linked existential crises that confront us: biodiversity loss and climate change.  At 14:00 the panellists are addressing the question Tourism and Biodiversity, Friend or Foe? There are a wealth of interviews here seeking to answer the question: Biodiversity, ecosystem services and tourism – conflict or symbiosis? How can the relationship be improved – what are the solutions?

We have two on-demand panels on Animal Welfare, Nick Stewart of World Animal Protection addresses the links.

At 15:30, we focus on Decarbonising Aviation. The problem is not flying; it is the fossil fuel used to power the aircraft and the emissions which result. There are alternatives now. It’s a complex and complicated debate, but we want to focus on the step-change solution of hydrogen. On the panel we have a representative of Airbus, who have recently announced their intention to build a hydrogen-powered aircraft, Universal Hydrogen focuses on the necessary supply and logistics, Heathrow on how they would adapt and an airline pilot. We also have a tour operator and a small island destination– both with good reason to want change and for it to come quickly. If you have time read the WTM Responsible Tourism blog on the background which can be read here.

On Wednesday AT 10:30 we have a panel on  Responsible Tourism in India now arguably the country leading the world in Responsible Tourism, the approach is embedded in the new national strategy and is being actively pursued by state governments in Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. Maharastra is joining the panel to share their view.

I have long wanted to have a panel on Responsible Tourism in China, and this year we have one on- demand. If you are part of Virtual WTM and have any interest in China as a destination or source market, don’t miss it. Responsible Tourism is providing solutions to many of the challenges which India faces.

In the panel on Racism in Tourism at 14:00 on Wednesday, there will be a discussion about the issues and the solutions. There is a series of interviews on Tourism and Racism available here  The author Alex Temblador is chairing the panel.  You can hear her views on the issue here.

At 15:30, we discuss Certification and Consumer Choice looking for solutions by addressing the question, how can we make certification better? We have panellists for the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, and from Green Tourism who have not joined, they took a different approach.

The Responsible Tourism programme ends with the rhetorical question, Can we make tourism better? Reflecting on this year’s panels and experience over the last 20 years, we want to distil our key learning about how to make change. We want to share what we’ve learned. We can make tourism better, but will we?

Eugenio Yunis will be joining the panel from Chile. He, like the other contributors, has a wealth of experience of what works and what didn’t, to share. You can get a foretaste 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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