World Responsible Tourism Day at the World Travel Market in London is always a good opportunity to meet up with and learn from colleagues and industry experts from around the world. This year was no exception and the Responsible Tourism Programme had a line up of interesting seminars and speakers with particular focus on animal welfare, authenticity, collaboration, child protection and behaviour change.
Collaboration, capacity building and behavioural change
Moderated by Professor Harold Goodwin, Adama Bah from Camp Africa, The Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG) and ICRT West Africa started off the seminars with a discussion on how to increase the local economic impacts of tourism. As was a key theme throughout the responsible tourism seminars, he put strong focus on the importance of capacity building and working with different stakeholders.
Dr Rebecca Hawkins from the Responsible Hospitality Partnership (RHP Ltd) headed a panel discussing how tourism can address climate change and emphasised how energy saving devices alone are not the way for tourism to address climate change problems. “Energy saving devices deliver savings, but they are not the answer,” said Rebecca, and continued “because the reality is that total emissions from the sector have gone up despite the fact that businesses keep adding technological solutions”.
Energy saving devices alone are not the way for tourism to address climate change problems–Dr Rebecca Hawkins, RHP Ltd
Chris Warren from Hamlet Research also talked about ‘the green ceiling’ where technology can’t help any further and, thus, emphasising the need for behavioural change and the importance for businesses to involve the staff and management in the process to see lasting results.
Authenticity is what customers want–Ilana Rappaport, ABTA
There is little doubt responsible tourism is good for the planet and local destinations, and the quality of the experience is key when preparing, promoting and selling responsible travel products. Customers are increasingly looking for authentic travel products and Justin Francis from responsibletravel.com suggested there is “an inextricable link between responsible tourism and authenticity.” As consumers buy the experience, it is important that the products are designed responsibly and just being ‘green’ or ‘responsible’ is simply not enough.
Responsible Tourism is a great opportunity, but it can also bite you in the arse if you’re not responsible.–Justin Francis, responsibletravel.com
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