Registration is open until the end of 2022 and the finalists will be announced in March 2023
In the week the world celebrates responsible tourism, WTM Latin America announces that registration is open for the award that recognizes the most inspiring initiatives in responsible tourism in Latin America. Companies of all sizes and branches of activity and tourist destinations have until 31 December 2022 to enter for the third edition of the award, the objective of which is still to inspire the market by example and, consequently, bring about positive changes in the travel and tourism industry.
“Responsibility for the impacts of tourism is a topic that WTM Latin America has been working with a lot. Rather than just looking, what we understand and that we insist on is that every industry needs to be part of this dialogue and search for alternative paths and solutions for transforming destinations into better places to visit,” says Thais Del Ben, Marketing & Communication Manager for WTM Latin America, highlighting the fact that responsible tourism has been getting stronger.
In its 2022 edition, the event had a dedicated auditorium for debates that focused on this important topic. “The packed sessions proved the significant advance of agendas related to responsible tourism and the evolution in the demand for it. It was a very pleasant surprise to see the increase in interest of professionals who wanted to hear inspiring stories they could replicate to increase their positive, tourism-based impact,” celebrates Gustavo Pinto, WTM Latin America’s adviser on responsible tourism and the award coordinator.
The objective of both the seminars and the award is to alert travel agents, tourism operators and the whole chain to rethink processes for combining efforts to overcome the challenges that have an impact on the environment and tourism globally, thereby transforming individual efforts into the means for sustainable development. “Tourism can and must be a strategy for transforming destinations into better places to live and visit. We want to hear about creative and inspiring stories that can be adapted and replicated anywhere in the world, especially those that are developed by small businesses and individual entrepreneurs, which is a business model that corresponds to 90% of our industry in the region”, Gustavo remembers.
In addition to this effort to multiply cases, Gustavo highlights the fact that the actions developed by WTM are an important incentive for changing the behaviour of professionals in relation to the business. “For changes to happen, we need to be a motivating vehicle and this includes rethinking the supply chain, as well as reviewing our role as consumers. After all, everybody has to assume some degree of responsibility for the impacts they generate and tourists are no exception to this”, warns the specialist, stressing the growing demand for travel that combines minimizing environmental impact and benefiting the destinations both socially and economically, which is a movement that provides companies that operate within these premises with business opportunities.
A dialogue dealing with current issues
The third edition of the Responsible Tourism Award is divided into six categories that consider fundamental questions for advancing tourism in a responsible manner, beginning with initiatives related to climate change. This is the fundamental topic in view of the challenge that life on this planet faces because the situation is deteriorating and requires the union of different elements in order to advance effectively. “Another challenging issue is managing single-use plastic because our sector consumes a lot. The fact that plastic is still being discarded in an incorrect way causes serious problems, not only for the environment but also for those who depend directly on offering tourist activities at sun and beach destinations for their livelihood,” he explains.
Corporate initiatives aimed at diversity and inclusion are also among the Award categories, as are those dedicated to nature conservation. “Despite recent progress, we know that issues related to accessibility for people with disabilities, initiatives for empowering women and the inclusion of black, indigenous, quilombolas [maroons], and LGBTQIA+ people are still major problems in Latin America. We also understand that the fauna, flora, water resources and the soil are essential elements in tourism, and this motivates us to look for success stories in these two categories that correspond to current issues, but that go unnoticed in terms of the development of tourism activities in Latin America,” is how he sums it up.
To understand how the activity promotes local consumption, the third edition of the Responsible Tourism Award will introduce a new category that will highlight the models of buying handicrafts, food and other items in tourist destinations. The idea of paying tribute to these initiatives starts from the assumption that the sense of place through flavours and local arts contributes to the experience of travellers and brings additional income opportunities for communities. Something else that is new in 2023 is the celebration of initiatives that generate significant connections between tourists, the host and the place visited, resulting in loyalty and recommendations of such destinations to friends and family.
The works entered for the Prize will be judged by eighteen renowned professionals in diverse areas and from different Latin American countries. “They are all enthusiastic about responsible tourism and are at the head specific segments, such as nature tourism and community-based tourism, among others,” is how Gustavo sums it up, remembering that the body of judges is made up of travel agents, operators, association directors, government representatives, journalists, academics and opinion formers.
Among the evaluation criteria are originality, the potential the initiative has for being replicated and the possibility of measuring the impacts achieved with the proposed solution. “This last topic still frightens many people who relate measuring to the complex methodologies used by major corporations, which is not always rue. The impact of a creative solution that is devised by a small company and measured with artisanal tools is often proportionally more important than that proposed by better-structured groups,” he concludes.
The six categories receiving entries for the third edition of the prize are: 1) Addressing climate change; 2) Best for tackling plastic waste; 3) Best for diversity and inclusion; 4) Best for nature positive tourism; 5) Best for local sourcing, craft and food; and 6) Best meaningful connections. The requirements of each topic and the winners of the 2022 edition are available on the site.
Service – Responsible Tourism Award
Registration is open until 31 December 2022
Finalists to be announced: March 2023
Trophy and plaque ceremony: During WTM Latin America 2023, which will be held between 3 and 5 April in the White and Green Pavilions of Expo Center Norte, in São Paulo.