Responsible Tourism Developments December 2018

1. Global Issues: Greenhouse Gases and Plastics
2. Overtourism – the issue of the year
3. Ecotourism is often Greenwashing
4. The authentic travel experience should be a boon for Africa
5.  Overtourism not just an issue in cities
6.  James Thornton on the future of sustainable travel
7.  Greater Kruger agreement signed

8.  India Market: growing interest in RT
9.  In South Africa, Parliament moves against the canned lion trade
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Trafficked children journey home in Nepal

1. Global Issues: Greenhouse Gases and Plastics
It was in August 2018 that scientists directly linked these two pollutants, several greenhouse gases are emitted as common plastics degrade in the environment. University of Hawaii research reveals the universal production of greenhouse gases methane and ethylene by the most common plastics when exposed to sunlight. We are polluting our finite world threatening to make it much harder for us to survive as a result of climate change and polluting our own bodies through plastics ingested from the fish we eat, as well as threatening the life which provides us with protein from the sea.

There are many issues in Responsible Tourism which occur in many places – child protection, potable water, labour conditions – but greenhouse gases and plastics are global issues in that these pollutants enter our atmosphere and our seas and pollute our common global environment. Both forms of pollution have come to the fore in 2018, in 2019 our focus needs to be on solutions.


Fifty years ago on December 24th 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts took the famous Earthrise photograph the first image of Earth captured by humans from space.

2. Overtourism & limits to growth – the issue of the year
There has been more coverage of the issue of overtourism in the mainstream press than in the trade press. Denial has also been the order of the day for most businesses and destination managers. Overtourism is powerful because it conveys both the problem and the emotional response that people – residents and visitors – have to the phenomenon. As with climate change denial and the failure act to address the issue can only exacerbate the problem. In both cases the longer we delay an effective response the bigger the problem and the more expensive – in lives and resources – it will be to fix.

In 2019 the focus will be on solutions as it was at WTM London in November 2018 where leaders of tourism in four cities Amsterdam, Barcelona, London and New York were interviewed about the experience in their cities and about how they were managing it. The session is available to watch. The session on what we can learn for Barcelona was a great success and can be listened to as a podcast.

3. Ecotourism is often Greenwashing
The CSR Journal published from Mumbai reports some of the greenwashing sins of the travel and tourism industry in India. This critique of the travel & tourism sector by the growing number of CSR professionals in other sectors is likely to become increasingly commonplace.
> Hidden trade-off: using solar to heat water but still depleting its neighbours’ water supply.
> No proof: failing to substantiate that organic food is being served or where it comes from and not providing evidence on the environmental savings resulting from reusing towels. A practice often negated by housekeeping staff producing unwanted freshly laundered towels.
>Vagueness: claiming that the destination is pristine but with no evidence that the business has made any contribution to the preservation of its environment.
> Worshipping false labels: “the large number of certification schemes creates confusion amongst consumers”
> Irrelevance: recycling on board the cruise ship but off-loading as mixed waste to landfill. “Carbon offsets are the airline greenwash tool of choice because they put the onus on the customer to cut emissions, and the airlines do not have to publicise any information on the quantity of emissions offset. Most airlines suppress this information and understandably so given the very low purchase rates.”
>Fibbing: “For instance, fair trade coffee and tea promises not fulfilled in hospitality tray sachets; claims to ‘minimise waste’ not reflected in the purchase of overpackaged items such as bottled water and single portions of food; smudging the line on ‘locally sourced’ food, which implies it comes from a local producer, by buying it at a nearby supermarket.”

4. The authentic travel experience should be a boon for Africa

tribe-traditional

The authentic travel experience should be a boon for Africa, but its missing the mark.

Hermione Nevill an Operations Officer with the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank Group argues that destinations and entrepreneurs are catching on and developing ‘off-the-beaten-path’ products that provide travellers greater interaction with local people. World Bank Group research found that while demand for experiencing ‘life like a local’ in Africa is set to outpace the growth of arrivals, there are still many supply-side challenges that need to be addressed.
> Standards: Africa’s market share lags other regions, and many products are not of sufficient standard.
> Exclusion and the digital divide: Marginalized groups, often best placed to deliver the product, are at risk of further exclusion.
> Community Impact: Bringing tourism into communities also brings other risks which need to be managed.
More and full report

5. Overtourism not just an issue in cities
In the mountains of northern Pakistan, irresponsible tourism activity is putting severe pressure on mountain environments. The waste left behind by tourists in scenic areas is creating environmental and health hazards. “Cooperation from all stakeholders — tourists, locals and government — is needed to increase awareness of sustainable tourism.” more

Sagada in the mountains of the Philippines has a population of 11,000 and a major tourism problem which has led the municipality to introduce new regulations to control visitor numbers and their behaviour. All tours have to be led by a registered guide and the municipality is limiting the numbers of visitors to particular sites each day. Local transport has to be used with tourist vehicles from outside Sagada required to remain parked-up for the duration of the stay. Only registered accommodation can be used, travellers must bring reusable water containers with them, plastic bottles are banned and tourism groups must take their rubbish away with them. more and more

6. James Thornton on the future of Sustainable Travel
Corporate philanthropy gave way to corporate social responsibility, which the CEO of the Intrepid Group says is now givign way to crerating shared value “create a business model whereby the company benefits from a sustainable social enterprise and the entire mechanism is self-fulfilling. For Intrepid… it means leveraging the power of that consumer base to do some real good while also making a profit.” more

7. Greater Kruger agreement signed
As Glenn Phillips, Kruger National Park managing executive points out: “A conservation area is not an island,… What happens outside our borders is also our concern. We now officially connect communities, the private sector and other conservation partners to make the Greater Kruger system bigger, more secure, and more relevant to the lives of people who live outside the park.”

The agreement signed by Makuleke Contractual Park, Makuya Nature Reserve, Letaba Ranch, Gidjana Conservation Area, Balule Nature Reserve, Klaserie Nature Reserve, Timbavati Nature Reserve, Umbabat Nature Reserve, Thornybush Nature Reserves, Kempiana, Manyeleti, Sabi Sand Wildtuin, Mala Mala, Mjejane Game Reserve and the KNP, commits the parties to responsible tourism, financial sustainability, socio-economic development, wildlife security, disease management, sustainable utilisation, water use and alien plant clearing. More

8. India Market: growing interest in RT
The Press Trust of India reports that RT will gain ground in 2019. Cox and Kings Group CEO Peter Kerkar told them that “This year we will see a spurt in the number of responsible travellers demanding for sensitive travel packages as well as sustainable operators to ensure a guilt-free tour. They will take the centre stage in 2019…” Ritu Mehrota India’s Bookin.com country manager for India, said “”Reflecting increased global interest in social issues such as human rights, equality and working conditions, 2019 will see the rise of a more conscious traveller, who will ask more questions around social, political and environmental issues in potential travel destinations before deciding on where to visit..” “Almost 69 per cent Indian travellers take social issues into account when choosing a holiday destination, while 70 per cent of them choose not to travel to a destination if they feel it will have a negative effect on the people who live there, according to Booking.com data.” More

9. In South Africa, Parliament moves against the canned lion trade
The National Assembly has adopted the report of a colloquium on captive lion breeding for hunting and lion bone trade. This includes a resolution for a reduction in the lion bone quota trade from 1 500 to the 800, and a high-level panel will also be appointed to conduct a policy review on the lion breeding and bone trade industries. More

10. Trafficked children journey home in Nepal
And finally some good news. Since 2011 we have addressed the challenge of child protection at WTM London, the problems are widespread and intractable. In Nepal, Next Generation Nepal continues to reunite families. Several years after being displaced from their families, 19 children living in Kathmandu set out on a journey few ever imagined. Years earlier, they were taken from their families with false promises of safety and education. Saved from abusive children’s homes by Next Generation Nepal, the children are finally going home. They will travel to the remote district of Humla in western Nepal and reunite with their families. This is their journey.

The Journey Home: A Success Story

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Harold Goodwin blogs regularly on the  WTM Responsible Tourism Blog
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