Responsible Tourism News is a newsletter of record carrying the 10 most important Responsible Tourism stories of the month. Please forward to those you think may be interested – you can subscribe here. If you wish to contribute a story email firstname.lastname@example.org or post it on our RTNews Facebook page.
1. Nepal Earthquake – responding responsibly
As this edition of Responsible Tourism News is published the Nepal Red Cross is reporting nearly 8,500 fatalities and over 17,500 injured. The earthquake occurred as the trekking and climbing season was under-way and Nepal’s Tourist Police reported 57 foreigners killed in the quake with 109 still missing. There were media reports of fights between villagers and tourists over access to helicopters in the Langtang Valley. There is also controversy about immediate plans to re-open the Everest route for climbers. more At the Arabian Travel Market Nepal was reported to be planning to review the re-opening of Nepal for organised tours in June once the debris has been cleared and affected areas made safe. 30% of temples were destroyed, 70% will be re-opened and the majorityt of hotels in Kathamandu are operational,, Pokhara and Chitwan were not affected.
Whilst some volunteering abroad organisations have been actively recruiting to send volunteers, many have been returning recognising that they have the wrong skills for disaster relief and that they are a burden.
“We didn’t really know whether to leave, or stay and help,” said Abi. “But in the end we decided as a group that there was little a bunch of unskilled teenagers could really do now. What is needed is proper relief work and if we had stayed we would have been taking the food and resources needed by the rescue teams.” read more in The Telegraph
“What Nepal needs right now is not another untrained bystander, however much her heart is hurting. Nepal has one international airport for the entire country, which has itself sustained damage. That airport needs to be used for emergency supplies, immediate aid for the victims, and qualified, professional relief workers.” read more in The Guardian
UNICEF reports that one million children are without classrooms and many of those which have not been damaged are in use as emergency shelters. The uninterrupted education of children is one of many priorities. As UNICEF’s spokesman in Kathmandu, told the BBC: “We know that children need to go to school not only to learn, but schools are places of protection for children who have been through the trauma of an earthquake. …It protects them from exploitation and abuse because everybody knows what they are doing and where they are.”
Next Generation Nepal has been working to free trafficked children form orphanages in Nepal and to reunite them with their families. The earthquake raises the prospect of a resurgence of trafficking.
“In practice, the children have been used as poverty commodities to raise money from well-meaning donors and volunteers who support these “orphanages” in the misplaced belief they are helping genuine orphans, or at least children who have no other choice than to be there. NGN is now deeply concerned that the earthquake will accelerate this trend beyond our worst nightmares. Aid money is flooding in to the country, children’s homes are offering hundreds of more places for children and relief efforts may not be reaching the villages fast enough to stop the likely flow of children away from their families into profit making “orphanages.” Read more
2. Tourism and the Abuse of Wildlife – examples from South Africa
The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance has long been speaking out about the abuse of wildlife in tourism – they were given a gold award in the World Responsible Tourism Awards in 2014. As they have pointed out this month “There is ZERO conservation value in the pet-play-pay industry. The only reason it is offered abundantly is because it rolls in the money. By offering wildlife interaction you can get rich really quickly.
“Lions and tigers are kept as breeding machines, their cubs removed at birth to be hand raised by volunteers paying vast amounts of money for the privilege. These cubs are then subjected to hours of manhandling by the paying public on a daily basis. When lion cubs grow too large and boisterous to be petted by children they are used for ‘lion walks’. Again, they are beaten in order to become submissive to their human ‘owners’.”
“Many of the establishments offering animal encounters will often do so under the guise of conservation. It is extraordinarily difficult to release any animal or bird back into the wild and once they have been imprinted by humans it is virtually impossible. White lions and tigers are not ‘endangered’, they carry a defective gene and would never survive in the wild, they were never meant to. There can only be one reason to offer these attractions and quite simply it is to make money. The industry is controlled by greed and greed is acting like a disease which threatens to become an epidemic and the threat to our wildlife is becoming irreversible.”
Petting, lion walking, volunteering and canned hunting – a sequence of animal exploitation which is lucrative – don’t buy it. Read more
3. Dear Future Generations, Sorry
US rapper Prince Ea’s ““Dear Future Generations: Sorry” about our responsibility for climate change has gone viral – if you haven’t seen it find six minutes to watch it, and encourage others. link
4. Benidorm to apply for World Heritage status
City officials have described the Spanish resort of Benidorm as representing “a masterpiece of human creative genius”. They argue that Benidorm fulfils six of the 10 conditions necessary for World Heritage Site status
5. SeaWorld is back in the news
“The new show starring your favorite Pinnipeds, Clyde and Seamore. This show replaced the long running Clyde and Seamore take Pirate Island.” more The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not amused more
6. Magaluf’s days of drinking and casual sex are numbered
Local government in Mallorca has given Megaluf a make over with investment in the public space and encouraged hotels and resorts to up grade – 33 hotles and 10 apartment complexes are reported to have increased their star ratings. “In 2012 alone, three British tourists died falling from hotel balconies. Reports of rapes and muggings have risen. Last year Magaluf’s notoriety peaked with the “mamading” scandal.”!
“It is time to shout from the rooftops that we don’t want this tourism. It’s not worth it,” declared the Majorca Daily Bulletin in response. The regional government condemned a “degrading image of women and the Balearics”. More in The Observer
7. Otter Joy
George Monbiot published Feral in 2013, about how by restoring and rewilding our damaged landscapes we can bring wonder back into our lives. Monbiot’s recent column in The Guardian connects this passion with his family holiday. He describes his own encounter with otters ..
“Then they turned and rippled back down the rocks, slipped into the water with scarcely a splash and started hunting round the coast once more. Soon they disappeared around a cliff I couldn’t negotiate.
I walked back elated, recharged with wonder and enchantment. A week later, the feeling still buoys me up.” He concludes “Everyone should be able to experience such marvels, and to step outside the ordered, regulated, predictable world of our own making, that sometimes seems to crush the breath out of us.” Read more
8. Is there a future for tigers, elephants and rhinos in the wild?
As poaching ravages wildlife across the globe alongside seemingly irreversible pressures on wilderness from man, how can we win the battle to keep iconic species in the wild? This is the question being addressed by leading conservationists in a Tour Operators for Tigers fund raiser at the Royal Geographical Society on 21st May. Details
9. WTM Africa and Responsible Tourism
10. UNWTO PhD Researcher opportunity
The closing date for applications for a PhD researcher at UNWTO is June 14th 2015. Details