This year’s global Responsible Tourism Awards, to be presented on World Responsible Tourism Day, Tuesday, November 7th at WTM in London are focussed on tourism’s contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the SDG’s.
The WTM Responsible Tourism Awards 2017
There are five categories this year – the first four are open only to those who have won gold or silver in the last three years in the global, African, Indian or Irish Responsible Tourism Awards. The fifth category is for organisations new to the awards.
For this year’s global Responsible Tourism Awards we are looking for examples of good practice, where businesses, organisations, and destinations are able to transparently report the outcomes and impacts of their efforts to make tourism more sustainable, to use tourism to make better places for people to live in. We are looking for businesses and tourism organisations that can demonstrate their positive sustainable development impact. We recognise that smaller companies will have smaller impacts. However, smaller businesses and organisations are no less worthy of an award and should not be deterred from applying. The judges are looking to recognise a range of approaches to reporting impact and communicating it to consumers, local people and governments.
The 2017 Awards categories are:
- SDG8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
- SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, tourism that creates jobs, promotes local culture and products.
- SDG 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development through the sustainable management of tourism on and in the oceans.
- Remaining SDGs: Businesses and tourism organisations that can demonstrate their contribution to one of the other 14 SDGs
- Newcomers: Businesses and tourism organisations which can demonstrate a contribution to one of the SDGs but which have not won Responsible Tourism Awards in the last three years.
Follow the links for more information about what the SDGs cover, many have multiple targets.
Remember that, unlike the MDGs, the SDGs apply to all countries.
The WTM Responsible Tourism Awards are open for applications on May 2nd and close August 31st. To apply download the form below and send your application in by August 31st to WTMRTA@responsibletourismpartnership.org
We have emphasised those SDGs where tourism is specifically mentioned: SDGs 8, 12 & 14. Category 4 is to enable all those who make a significant contribution to one of the other SDGs to apply and Category 5 creates an opportunity fo those who have not won an RT Award in the last 3 years to participate.
Why focus the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards on the SDGs?
For many years the sector has asserted its economic and social importance, the World Travel and Tourism Council reports that for the sixth consecutive year in 2016 growth in travel and tourism outpaced growth in the global GDP. The WTTC reports that its research suggests that travel & tourism is 10.2% of world GDP and that the sector employs 292 million people providing 1 in 10 jobs globally. The forecast is for travel & tourism to growth at 4.9% year on year for the next ten years. The WTTC provides estimates of the economic and employment impact of the sector at regional and country level. More recently the Global Sustainable Tourism Dashboard has provided macro-data on a broader range of issues including environmental impact, resource efficiency, and gender equality. What our sector lacks is clear evidence of its positive impacts, the negative impacts are increasingly apparent. Macro estimates, however well done, cannot provide this – individual businesses and destinations can produce much more credible evidence of their impacts. This year’s Awards provide the opportunity for businesses, organisations and destinations to differentiate themselves and secure a market advantage. Jane Ashton has reported customer research conducted globally by TUI, with over 3800 people in six countries, confirmed that sustainability can be a deciding factor in their holiday choices and that customers want more information when it comes to booking. TUI is already reporting its sustainability using the SDGs.
Responsible Tourism Awards focus on the contributions made by tourism businesses and organisations and by destinations – we want to recognise those who are making a difference. The change makers, those leading the way to make tourism more sustainable by taking responsibility for driving down the negative impacts of tourism and increasing the positive impacts.
It is time to move beyond the greenhushing which has resulted from a reluctance to be accused of greenwashing. Many have preferred certification but this is an opaque process – no one can tell whether or not a hotel is reducing its water consumption year on year nor identify which hotels in any destination have the best record in water management. Too many tourists have had the experience of hanging their towels back on the rail, only to have them changed against their wishes, found the thermostat turned down below their wishes or the lights and TV left on with a key card permanently in the slot. Too often the word sustainable or responsible tourism are trotted out with no evidence that they mean anything at all – greenwashing. As Tony Carne of Urban Adventures has argued 2017 is the year when we should overcome the fear of greenwash and stop greenhushing.
We know from the various Responsible Tourism Awards programmes with which we are involved that there any many businesses and organisations which can report on the outcomes and impacts of their taking responsibility for achieving sustainability – this year we want to recognise them in order to inspire and challenge others to replicate and to do more. We are going to put more effort this year into inspiring and educating by showcasing what is already being achieved in transparent reporting by leaders, by large and small businesses. At WTM London last November there were presentations by large corporations (TUI and IHG) and much smaller companies (Exodus and Transfrontier Parks Destinations) which showed what information can be published to demonstrate what can be achieved and shared with consumers. Watch the video.
Judges: the judging panel, to be chaired by Emeritus Professor Dr Harold Goodwin, will be announced shortly
There is no established system for Responsible Tourism reporting different approaches are being developed and new ones will emerge. This diversity is an inevitable and desirable consequence of the fundamental principle of Responsible Tourism: that issues, their salience and importance, vary from place to place. First determine what matters locally, what issues you can address and then alone or with others address them. We want to encourage more tourism businesses and destinations to publish details of their outcomes and impacts.
This year it will be a one-stage process, only one short form to complete and the supporting documents you choose to send. We have made the application process as simple as possible.
For questions and media contact WTMRTA@responsibletourismpartnership.org