Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism: WTM Virtual Special 10 & 11 November

The next edition will be out at the beginning of December
The Responsible Tourism Hub provides quick links to curated material on Responsible Tourism 

This year's WTM, London is virtual, there is no need to travel to London nor to find board and lodging away from home. You can participate from anywhere in the world over the extended hours, the only carbon emitted will be from the electricity you and the internet consumes, and some of that is renewable.
Register here.

The full programme of live, on-demand and catchup panels and interviews is available here.

  1. World Responsible Tourism Awards winners have been announced 
  2. Resilience & Covid 19
  3. Build Back Better
  4. Tourism and Biodiversity, Friend or Foe?
  5. Decarbonising Aviation 
  6. Responsible Tourism in India
  7. Tourism and Racism 
  8. Certification and Consumer Choice
  9. Can we make tourism better – a manifesto for change.
  10. Miscellany 

 

1. World Responsible Tourism Awards winners have been announced
The ambition of the Awards has always been to recognise businesses and destinations which are making tourism better and to spread good practice – to educate, inspire and challenge others to do likewise or do more.
In this year, when the world faces a global pandemic, it seemed inappropriate to continue with the World Responsible Tourism Awards as usual. It is not Business as Usual, and the crisis is likely to continue for some time.
This year the judges decided to commend businesses and destinations which are taking responsibility and addressing the challenge of Covid-19 and to Highly Commend and Commend businesses and destinations. The judges wanted to recognise those who have taken responsibility and addressed the many challenges of the pandemic.

2. Resilience & Covid 19

On Tuesday 10th at 10:30, we look at Resilience & Covid-19 looking for solutions to how we get travel moving again, how we learn to live with the coronavirus and reflecting on what we have learned over the last year about resilience. Safety, confidence and trust have become central to restarting travel and tourism. WTTC and destinations have developed protocols for the new normal. It is now widely recognised that the pandemic will be with us globally for a while; we must learn to live with it and manage risk.  The tourists, whether travelling for leisure or business, have to feel confident about their safety from home, through the airport, on the plane or train and on arrival through the airport to their accommodation – and of course back again. And they have to be confident that quarantine will not be imposed on them in the destination or on their return.  WTM Virtual Link

92 UNWTO Member States participated in the first meeting of the Committee for the Development of an International Code for the Protection of Tourists. This initiative seeks to achieve a more fair and balanced share of responsibilities among all tourism stakeholders in the post-COVID-19 world. more

Barcelona is represented on this panel. It has long recognised that it has an overtourism problem and has been addressing it for several years. "Barcelona has created an ambitious project which aims to reclaim public space for its residents, starting with La Rambla, which it intends to turn into a cultural hub. Speaking about this new plan, Rabassa said, ‘Ciutat Vella can be a role model of how to move from a monoculture to something more diversified that employs and caters to the needs of residents through creating jobs in culture, technology, ecology and sustainable initiatives’. more

3. Build Back Better

The S-G of the UN has spoken of the crisis as 'an unprecedented opportunity to transform the relationship of tourism with nature, climate and the economy.... to examine how it interacts with our societies and other economic sectors; to measure and manage it better; to ensure a fair distribution of its benefits and to advance the transition towards a carbon-neutral and resilient tourism economy.' In this panel, we'll look at the different ways in which five destinations are seeking to change the way tourism works to take the opportunity provided by Covid-19 to build back better for communities and their environment. Tuesday 10th at 12:00 WTM Virtual Link

ABTA's recent report on Tourism for Good can be downloaded here 
In April 2019 Booking.com reported that "Over half (55%) of global travelers report being more determined to make sustainable travel choices than they were a year ago, but barriers include a lack of knowledge and available or appealing options when trying to put this into practice... almost three quarters (72%) of travelers believe that people need to act now and make sustainable travel choices to save the planet for future generations. While results were relatively consistent across ages, almost three-quarters (74%) of 46-55 year olds believe most strongly that this is needed".

You can find more about Germany's Feel Good campaign here.
Scotland is one of the destinations participating in this panel, Malcolm Roughhead, CEO of VisitScotland, talks about managing Coivd-19 and building back better.

4. Tourism and Biodiversity, Friend or Foe?

At 14:00 the panellists are addressing the question Tourism and Biodiversity, Friend or Foe? WTM Virtual Link

There are a wealth of interviews here seeking to answer the question Biodiversity, ecosystem services and tourism – conflict or symbiosis? How can the relationship be improved – what are the solutions?  There are two panels on animal welfare available on demand

There are further interviews and background to the issues here 

5. Decarbonising Aviation 

The aviation industry is our sector's Achilles' heel. Flying is not the problem; the emissions from the fuel that aviation runs on is the issue. For too long aviation has resisted change, insisting that there is no alternative. Now there is. On this panel we have Airbus, they've just announced hydrogen-powered flight by 2035; the founder of Universal Hydrogen; the Carbon Strategy Director, Heathrow Airport; and easyJet's, Director of Flight Operations. From Jamaica, we'll hear about why aviation matters and why it needs to decarbonise and Noel Jopsephides of tour operator Sunvil, will explain why aviation needs to change.

Read this blog on the WTM Hub for the background on decarbonising aviation

How quickly will the airlines take up zero-emissions flight?  How should the travel and tourism sector respond if aviation, a major supplier, fails to adopt clean technology fast enough, presenting a significant risk to our industry in general and the many destinations dependent upon it?  How can we best encourage the aviation industry, manufacturers, airports and airlines to make rapid change? Is the tourism industry willing to accept some additional cost and able to force its supplier to adopt the best technologies? Will polluting aircraft still be flying in 2050? How do we speed the introduction of zero-carbon flight? the panel is at 15:30 on Tuesday 10th November  WTM Virtual Link

Ian Care is an award-winning innovator who has provided technical, project and innovation leadership, acclaimed by and delivering £multi-million benefits for Rolls-Royce plc. Harold Goodwin conducted a series of interviews with him recently - Ian is a man who thinks outside the box to find practical solutions. Watch the interviews here. 

6. Responsible Tourism in India

India is rapidly emerging as a leader in Responsible Tourism. The strapline Incredible India accurately conveys the geographic and historical variety of natural and built heritage which India offers the tourist and the rich diversity of living cultural heritage which surrounds any visitor to the sub-continent. In 2008 Kerala adopted Responsible Tourism and developed an approach which ensured that the local communities benefited through Village Life Experiences and producer cooperatives. Madhya Pradesh has followed with a state policy, and other states are looking to follow. The new national tourism policy of the Ministry of Tourism endorses Responsible Tourism. India is now arguably leading the world in adopting a Responsible Tourism approach. In this round table panel, we shall hear from policymakers about their experience with Responsible Tourism and about what it has to offer. Wednesday 11th November 10:30  WTM Virtual Link

7. Tourism and Racism

Alex Temblador chairs the panel on Tourism and Racism on Wednesday 11th at 14:00.  WTM Virtual Link

There is a host of interviews on tourism and racism available playlist here  There are further resources here.

8. Certification and Consumer Choice

On Wednesday 11th at 15:30 the panel included GSTC representatives discussion the future development of certification  A key ambition of sustainability labels has been to ensure that those tourism businesses which adopt a range of sustainable practices are rewarded as consumers choose them in preference to others. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council was created to establish a consistent baseline across schemes. Understanding that issues vary from place to place and that the credibility of the label(s) can be undermined each time a guest spots bad practice in a certified "sustainable business" – we discuss where certification is today and what it holds for the future. Are there too many schemes? What strategies could deliver more transparent consumer information? What can be done to improve certification and drive the sustainability agenda forward? How will health and safety shape sustainable tourism? This panel discussion tackles some of these issues and identifies successes, challenges, and how certification can help make tourism more responsible. WTM Virtual Link

9. Can we make tourism better – a manifesto for change.

This year's Responsible Tourism programme ends with a panel on Wednesday at 17:00 reflecting on this year's WTM Responsible Tourism sessions and to consider how we move forward to make better tourism for travellers and holidaymakers; for destinations and for the communities who live there; and for businesses in the source markets and destinations.  What principles should inform the way we recover our industry and work to use tourism to make better places for people to live in? What role should governments play?  How do we practically make tourism better?  WTM Virtual Link

10. Miscellany 

  • There is a panel on Responsible Tourism in China available in the on demand programme at WTM Virtual.
  • IATA reports that international passenger demand was down 88.8% in September, capacity was down 78.9% and the average load was 43.5%.
  • Flight Radar graphs commercial passenger flights + cargo flights + charter flights + some business jet flights.
  • The New Zealand Tourism Futures Taskforce is an independent public private partnership to lead the thinking on the future of tourism in New Zealand. The main purpose of the Taskforce is to advise on what changes New Zealand can make to the tourism system, so that tourism enriches both New Zealand and the wellbeing of New Zealanders. The Taskforce will provide an initial report on the future of tourism in New Zealand in December 2020, with final recommendations and steps for implementation in April 2021.

The URL www.rtp.education takes you directly to the RT Hub which provides easy links to Responsible Tourism on the WTM websites and RT Partnership.

RT News carries the top ten stories on RT – the are many more links to RT stories here.

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Responsible Tourism News is a newsletter of record carrying the 10 most important Responsible Tourism stories of the month. 8,000 people subscribe to receive it every month.  Please forward to those you think may be interested – you can subscribe using the box on the right. If you wish to contribute a story email harold@haroldgoodwin.info or post it on our RTNews Facebook page.

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Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 05/2020

  1. Reputation Matters: Taking Responsibility in the face of Covid-19
  2. The World Responsible Tourism Awards in the Year of Covid-19
  3. Climate Change is as big a threat as Covid-19
  4. What future for Aviation?
  5. The Economic Impact of Covid-19
  6. Recovery - time to press the reset button?
  7. Immunity Passports?
  8. Resilience relies on others, it cannot be achieved by tourism alone
  9. Covid-19 will not be the end of overtourism
  10. The Covid-19 pandemic threatens wildlife too 

This month sees the launch of a new Responsible Tourism Hub providing quick links to curated material on RT. 

WTM Responsible Tourism Awards

1. Reputation Matters: Taking Responsibility in the face of Covid-19

Covid-19 and Tourism

Successful travel companies invest time and money in customer service to offer a quality experience knowing that repeat business and referrals are driven by people's perceptions of the business. These are very difficult times for the sector with demand having collapsed. UNWTO reported that by the end of April 100% of destinations had restrictions on international arrivals and domestic tourism. Tour Operators have delayed payments to suppliers and procrastinated over consumer refunds, a voucher is of little use to customers who have lost their incomes, the vouchers can't be used buy food.  James Thornton, CEO of Intrepid, penned an open letter recognising that there are aspects of the crisis that they had not handled well. "For any customers who feel disappointed with our response to their enquiries during this time, who feel as though we have taken their trust for granted, or who feel like we’ve let them down, I hear you, and I apologise." He has taken responsibility, apologised and taken action. People remember how you deal with problems - reputations are built and damaged by the ways companies deal with their customers and suppliers in crises.

Last month's RT News carried examples of companies and destinations maintaining meaningful connections with their client base. Ilha Blue, recognised in the 2020 Inspirational Africa Responsible Tourism Awards, is working during the pandemic to keep their people safe, to use the time to create new experiences and to imagine and create the future they want – more women in their workforce, leadership on environmental issues, new more transformative travel offerings and increased connectivity with their global network of friends/volunteers/travellers. They are doing good and telling their clients and agents about it.

The impact of Covid-19 on holidaymakers is that they don't get a foreign holiday and in many countries any holiday. Of course only a minority ever have a holiday year after year, a holiday is in a fundamental sense a luxury good. In the destinations large numbers of people are put out of work, in larger companies, able to access government funds, they may be furloughed, but the vast majority of tourism is delivered by SMEs, micro enterprises and sole traders. As Justin Francis has argued there is far less welfare support for those who lose their livelihoods in developing countries, there are altruistic and self-interested reasons to act. "The developed north relies on many less developed countries to deliver travel "product". Recovery here requires it there – we need to rebuild together."

Fair Trade Tourism South Africa has pointed out that the "crisis has shone a light on many of the unFair Trade dynamics in the sector and the pause over the coming weeks gives us all time to reflect, to assess, and to redefine how we want travel and tourism to look going forward; to acknowledge the impacts we have; and to unpack the trade dynamics that need to be addressed. It has given us time to remember that humanity comes before commerce and that we need to look out for each other however we can." They list many businesses which have launched fundraisers to offset lost income (and tips) for their staff Coffee Shack Backpackers  & Umlani Bushcamp, stepped up their philanthropic efforts  Uthando (Love) SA , Spier has continued to support its partnerships with local communities, Sani Lodge Backpackers,   Isibindi Africa Lodges is raising funds to purchase and deliver masks, sanitisers and food parcels to its neighbours. Bulungula Lodge completely repurposed the lodge, it was closed to travellers and converted into a Safe Home for the elderly and those deemed most vulnerable. Ubuntu Beds has united hospitality businesses (and their empty beds) with the healthcare professionals fighting COVID-19 on the front lines.

South Africa has so far very effectively addressed Covid-19 with a lockdown and a ban on international arrivals and inter-province travel. it has close to 20,000 confirmed cases (close to 4,000 of whom have recovered) and under 200 deaths. But the lockdown has a price. Tourism was seen as an important employer in post-apartheid South Africa, a relativity labour intensive employer which could create employment in urban and rural areas. The travel bans have resulted in real hardship particularly for the community owned lodges often built on restituted land.  Trans-frontier Parks Destinations (TFPD) is approaching clients, operators and agents who sell community owned lodges to contribute to relief funds incentivised by entry into a draw for a fully-inclusive stay and a guaranteed discount on their next booking. !Xaus Lodge is the pride and joy of the local ‡Khomani San and Mier communities, Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge is owned by the Batlokoa community in Phuthaditjhaba.

There are opportunities to do good, and build reputation, in the originating markets too.  Airbnb has encouraged its property owners to offer  healthcare staff and first responders places to stay that allow them to be close to their patients – and safely distanced from their own families. In Los Angeles 300+ hotels have volunteered more than 30,000 rooms to the LA County Department of Public Health and other agencies as temporary shelter to support the region’s COVID-19 response, stepped up their philanthropic efforts.

Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel has pointed to the "new community spirit fostered under the crisis, particularly about how we are all looking out for each other and the vulnerable" and expressed the hope that travel consumers "reward travel companies who can demonstrate they care about local residents, culture and environments throughout their entire operations (not just through token donations to charity)." He reports that the consumer feedback on Responsible Travel demonstrates that "customers find a deeper connection with places and more authentic experiences as a result of tourism designed together with local communities."

2. The World Responsible Tourism Awards in the Year of Covid-19

World Responsible Tourism AwardsThe ambition of the Awards has always been to recognise businesses and destinations which are making tourism better and to spread good practice – to educate, inspire and challenge others to do likewise or do more. In this year when the world faces a global pandemic, it seemed inappropriate to continue with the World Responsible Tourism Awards as usual. Its is not Business as Usual, and the crisis is likely to continue for some time. This year the judges have decided to commend businesses and destinations which are taking responsibility and addressing the challenge of Covid-19.

This year we shall be taking recommendations from anyone keen to tell us about destinations, businesses and other organisations or individuals which are using tourism, or tourism facilities, to address the challenge of Covid-19. To nominate your own business or one you know to be taking responsibility go the Awards page. Remember we can only choose from amongst those that are nominated 

3. Climate Change is as big a threat as Covid-19

The global pandemic has, at the time of writing taken the lives of 280,000, it will likely to take many more. It is an urgent crisis. But Covid-19 is not the only crisis confronting us. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, pointed out on Earth Day, that the toll taken by the virus is both "immediate and dreadful". But the crisis is also a wake-up call, "to do things right for the future." He argues that "Public funds should be used to invest in the future not the past." The subsidies to businesses which damage our environment must cease and polluters must pay for their pollution. Climate risks must be at the heart of all public policy. Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of England, has pointed out that 'We can't self-isolate from climate change'.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that the world will use 6% less this year - equivalent to losing the entire energy demand of India. Analysis by Carbon Brief, suggest that emissions this year will fall by 4-8%, saving somewhere between 2 and 3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas. The drop in oil consumption has been fives times larger than in the 2009 recession. more  In the UK the government's Committee on Climate Change has advised that investment should be in broadband rather than roads, that unemployment should be tackled by creating green jobs and pointed out that: "Many sectors of the UK economy do not currently bear the full costs of emitting greenhouse gases. Revenue could be raised by setting or raising carbon prices for these sectors.”.  Different countries will move on from Business As Usual to different degrees - the choices societies and their governments make will affect the climate we all share.

4. What future for Aviation? 

The Future for Aviation

The demand for jet fuel is down 65% year on year to April; in Europe flights are down 90%, in the US ~50%. Airbus still has a very healthy order book. "By April 30th, Airbus’ gross orders in 2020 totalled 365 aircraft. After cancellations the net orders stand at 299 aircraft. " It's ".. backlog of aircraft remaining to be delivered as of 30th April stood at 7,645."  The Lufthansa airlines group intends to reactivate 80 aircraft in June. Heathrow Airport has been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme against a block on its plans for a third runway. The aviation sector is frustrated by airport closures, travel bans, social distancing and quarantine regulations but despite the calls for greener business they are preparing for a return to business as usual. The aviation industry remains our sector’s Achilles’ heel. Although some governments have pushed back on bailouts the sector has secured a great deal of funding with few environmental requirements. Greenpeace, Transport & Environment, and Carbon Market Watch using publicly available data have joined together to maintain a regularly updated, airline bailout tracker. Take a look.

The dependency of aviation on government bailouts creates an ideal opportunity for governments to encourage and fund a step change and to develop new technologies which could provide sustainable jobs through green technology. The French government has adopted a progressive approach, their rescue of Air France is contingent on a reduction in domestic flying and Air France becoming "the most environmentally respectful airline". "When you can travel by train in less than two and a half hours, there is no justification for taking a plane." M. Le Maire, France's Minister of the Economy and Finance, said the coronavirus crisis provided an opportunity to "reinvent our model of economic development to ensure it is more respectful of the environment". 2% of the fuel used by Air France's planes will have to be derived from alternative, sustainable sources by 2025 and by 2030 the airline would have to cut its carbon emissions by half per passenger and per kilometre from 2005 levels. more

5. The Economic Impact of Covid-19

These are extraordinary times, a return to business as usual looks improbable. The IMF is predicting that the ‘Great Lockdown’ will result in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and far worse than the Global Financial Crisis. They say that there is considerable uncertainty about what the economic landscape will look like when we emerge from this lockdown. For tourism to be possible, the lockdown has to have been lifted at the same time in the source market and the destination. And the traveller needs to be confident that their destination is safe and that there is no risk of being trapped in the destination by a lockdown in the destination or at home. There are likely to be further lockdowns and compulsory quarantine for travellers whenever coronavirus spikes. The travellers will also need to be confident that the risk of catching the virus travelling to the airport, on the plane, coach, train or cruise liner is low. Fear will remain a major deterrent, and travel insurance may continue to be unavailable or too expensive for cover for risks associated with the pandemic, including being quarantined abroad. more

The International Labour Organization estimates that as many as 1.6 billion of the world’s two billion informal economy workers are affected by COVID-19 lockdown and containment measures and face the "dilemma of choosing between dying from hunger and dying from the disease." In the US the cruise industry has been denied bailouts, seen as a consumer luxury industry which is not fundamental to the American economy and an industry which is largely registered abroad avoiding paying tax in the US. New Zealand quickly locked down when Covid-19 arrived and managed to reduce its coronavirus cases to zero in seven weeks. It is now planning a travel bubble, or corridor, including Australia and some Pacific Islands to enable travel and tourism to begin again. At the beginning of May Skyscanner surveyed 2,200 people across three continents and found that travel "remains a priority once restrictions are lifted – with 33% travelling ‘more than ever’ once it’s safe, 31% travelling more cautiously and 22% more domestically."

6. Recovery - time to press the reset button?

There are reports of Airbnb bookings rebounding in  TexasColoradoTennessee, and Alabama all ended lockdown policies in late April. In South Africa, one of the few African countries with a significant domestic market,  Lee-Anne Bac, Director of Strategic Development and Advisory at BDO, is advising that "the industry needs to relook and gear towards catering and marketing to the domestic market" cautioning that "This means having more affordable products in the tourism industry. And, in order for it to be more affordable, there needs to be more flexibility.”

Confronted by the common challenge of restoring normal life without increasing infection rates, countries have responded in ways which reflect their circumstances, culture and their government structures. Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Kerala, Milan and York are all in different ways talking about pressing the reset button. more  Justin Francis has pointed out that the "vast majority of people who work in tourism, reputedly 1 in 12 globally, work in small or micro businesses (restaurant staff, taxi drivers, hotel room service and front desk, curio and craft sellers, guides for museums, etc) and not global corporations. "The economic impacts on them and their families should not be ignored". Jeremy Smith has asked whether tourism can be radically transformed and avoid generating xenophobia, racism, and individualism: "Acts of altruism and support for host communities must continue to be our defining characteristics in the months to come." He goes on to quote Guillaume Cromer who has asked: Instead of putting money back into the machine like we used to, couldn’t we… support citizens who are struggling to go on holidays?

7. Immunity Passports?

In the UK the PM has confirmed plans to force all international arrivals, including returning holidaymakers, to self-isolate.  A position described by Oliver Smith in the Telegraph as "closing the stable door after the horse has bolted". Passengers arriving from abroad will have to provide an address where they will put themselves in quarantine for two weeks, enforced by spot checks and fines. This will not apply to arrivals from the Republic of  Ireland, the Channel Island and the Isle of Man, part of a common travel area, and very probably France.‡ It is not clear if this will apply to passengers who transit through Paris or Dublin. Airlines UK, UK-registered airlines have responded: “This [quarantine] proposal will effectively kill international travel to and from the UK and cause immeasurable damage to the aviation industry and wider UK economy. Nobody is going to go on holiday if they’re not able to resume normal life for 14 days, and business travel will be severely restricted. It will also make it all but impossible for aviation to resume any time soon, thereby setting back the UK’s economic recovery still further.” There can be no leisure travel with quarantine rules in place, and very little business travel.

In the US the TSA is reporting on covid-19 precautions at airports and the numbers of staff who have tested positive, airport security requires a degree of proximity. Until there is a vaccine or effective treatment Covid-19 will constrain international and even domestic travel. Temperature checking cameras are in place at many airports and Heathrow is experimenting with their introduction. Testing at the airport immediately prior to departure may be an option, as is testing on arrival, the Advance Passenger Information system could be used to communicate the results and the testing service could be paid for by the traveller. It is not clear how a refund would be secured if a passengers was denied boarding or how a traveller tested positive on arrival would be treated. Travel insurance is unlikely to cover the Covid-19 risk.

Authorities in Greece, Sardinia and the Balearic Islands have talked about antibody-based passports to enable safe entry for tourists. In the UK Onfido, submitted written evidence on “the role of Digital Identity in Immunity Passports” to the Science and Technology Committee. There are major human rights and medical problems with this approach.  Thus approach would create a perverse incentive for infection in order to acquire antibodies and move about. The World Health Organization advises "There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection." And " People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission."

The Daily Telegraph reports that President Macron has threatened to impose a two-week quarantine on Britons visiting France, after the Government announced it had similar plans that could begin as early as next month. This would have resulted in a two week quarantine wither side of the Channel. Downing Street and the Elysée are reported to have  issued a joint statement agreeing quarantine measures would not apply between France and the UK "at this stage”. “The Prime Minister and the President agreed to work together in taking forward appropriate border measures. This co-operation is particularly necessary for the management of our common border, No quarantine measures would apply to travellers coming from France at this stage; any measures on either side would be taken in a concerted and reciprocal manner.”

8. Resilience relies on others, it cannot be achieved by tourism alone

Tourism relies on source markets, domestic and international, to generate customers with money, time and freedom to travel; on safe and reliable transport being available to facilitate travel; and the destination needs to be seen as safe to visit.  There are only a few risks that tourism can address alone - the pandemic has demonstrated how reliant tourism is on the resilience of the source markets and destinations and the transport infrastructure. Businesses, DMOs and NTBs can take some steps to 'shock proof" the industry locally and to find alternative markets if one collapses, but resilience requires a much broader approach and collaboration.

Kerala has developed greater resilience in the wake of recent extensive flooding, and they were quick to bring Covid-19 under control. RT has been successful in Kerala in large part due to the strength of state and local government. Domestic tourists will arrive first, but the industry in Kerala can do little to hasten their arrival or that of the international visitors, many of whom repeat. Belize has, at the time of writing, had 18 cases of Covid-19 and 2 deaths. Their primary source market is the US (75%), where Covid-19 has not plateaued. They are encouraging domestic tourism and hoping to open for international guests from July with a Covid-19 test on arrival.

9. Covid-19 will not be the end of overtourism

In the growing literature on overtourism there is much emphasis on international tourism but domestic tourists too contribute to overtourism. In Cornwall in the UK  accommodation is already reported to be 85% booked for July and August. Even during the lockdown in the UK there have needed to be campaigns to discourage people from visiting beauty spots. more

Holidaymakers who previously have holidayed abroad can't, they will holiday at home. In the Huangshan mountain park in Anhui province on Saturday April 4 there were "thousands of people crammed together, many wearing face masks, eager to experience the great outdoors after months of travel restrictions and strict lockdown measures." Before 08:00 park managers  took the unusual step of issuing a notice declaring that the park had reached its 20,000 person daily capacity. more

In the UK the announcement by the PM of a relaxation of the rules on travelling for recreation has resulted in a plea for people have been told to stay away from beauty spots and beaches amid fears relaxed rules allowing longer car journeys would leave areas "inundated with visitors". Some rural areas, including Cumbria and the Lake District, have had relatively high rates of infection and tourism bosses in those areas urged people not to visit. more

10. The Covid-19 pandemic threatens wildlife too

Jane Goodall has pointed to the importance of ensuring that the chimps are not exposed to Covid-19. In the last month's RT News we carried the example of Ol Pejeta's fund raising initiative to support the work of the conservancy. World Animal Protection is campaigning to raise funds to care for over 2,000 elephants in the tourism camps in Thailand closed by the pandemic. Across Africa  the closure of safari tourism, due to the coronavirus pandemic, is decimating the industry, and leading to an increase in poaching as people struggle to stay alive. more

 


The URL www.rtp.education takes you directly to the RT Hub which provides easy links to Responsible Tourism on the WTM websites and RT Partnership.

RT News carries the top ten stories on RT – the are many more links to RT stories here.

Sponsored by @WTM_WRTD
WTM Monthly RT Newsletter

RT News

RT Video Channel

Other Responsible Tourism Newsletters

GreenAir
The Sustainabilist UAE
Responsible Cape Town
Climate Change in 7 charts

Better Tourism Africa
Responsible Traveller, South Africa
Encounter Africa

Subscribe to WTM’s RT Update here 

WTM Responsible Tourism Blog

Responsible Tourism News is a newsletter of record carrying the 10 most important Responsible Tourism stories of the month. 8,000 people subscribe to receive it every month.  Please forward to those you think may be interested – you can subscribe using the box on the right. If you wish to contribute a story email harold@haroldgoodwin.info or post it on our RTNews Facebook page.

You are receiving this email because you have been receiving RT News for some years or have subscribed online more recently. Your name and email address is kept securely by our agent and used only to send you a copy of RT News. We will never sell or give your mailing address to any other organisation. Every edition of RT News sent by email comes with an unsubscribe function so if at any time you wish to cease receiving RT News please unsubscribe. Our mailing list contains only your name and email address.

If you have any queries please email harold@responsibletourismpartnership.org

Harold Goodwin’s Responsible Tourism Blog
Harold Goodwin blogs regularly on the  WTM Responsible Tourism Blog
Twitter: @goodwinhj  & @WTM_WRTD  #RTourismNews

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2019 World Responsible Tourism Awards close 31 July

To nominate or enter the 2019 World RT awards. If you know of great initiatives and solutions and you think they are worthy of an award please encourage them to apply.

Nominate of Apply here.
Why enter?
The Judges

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Irish Responsible Tourism Awards

This is the first year of the Irish Responsible Tourism Awards and the judges were heartened by the strength of the nominations in all categories. The Irish Responsible Tourism Awards are part of the family of Awards which use the same criteria and judging processes as those used in the World Responsible Tourism Awards which have run since 2004.

Best Tour Operator for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a tour operator that educates and inspires travellers through their responsible approach to leading excursions, their knowledge of issues in the places they visit, and the way they convey how to be a responsible traveller.

Gold: Connemara Wild Escapes www.connemarawildescapes.ie
Connemara Wild Escapes is a destination specialist tour operator established in 2011. It researches, finds, develops, packages and sells tailor made and off the shelf activities and experiences. Sales channels are via the travel trade and online through the website. Their markets are UK, mainland Europe and North America. They have moved from start-up mode to a position of destination leadership in terms of moving their entire supply chain and destination as a whole toward responsible travel in a few short years. There is a strong educational element in all their tours focussed on conservation and an active partnership approach encouraging local and international visitors to adopt a conservation travel approach to their holiday experience. They support a number of conservation initiatives including Tidy Towns, the Oughterard Hatchery, the Red Grouse project-Cregg, and the Lough Corrib Common Scoter Duck project. Working with over 200 local suppliers the business brings significant economic benefit to the local, disadvantaged, rural area. They spend over €100,000 in the local economy and provide 5 direct jobs, and uniquely the company also has a conservation and responsible tourism code of practice and policy agreement with all of its suppliers. The judges felt that this was an innovative, scalable and replicable model.

Silver: Cycle Inishowen www.cycleinishowen.com
Established in 2012 Cycle Inishowen is a small rural operator dedicated to showing visitors the beautify of Inishowen, while getting people out of cars and onto bikes, contributing to conservation, carbon reduction and other local initiatives. They have received measurable feedback from guests having encouraged 200 people to cycle to Malin Head. Responsible tourism for them, as they said in their application,“is all about offering sustainable alternatives and making no impact on the environment around you. This is very important here in Inishowen as we are lucky enough to live in a scenic, unspoilt destination. The trick is to capitalise on that, while also preserving it. Here at Cycle Inishowen we have a genuine interest in wildlife and the outdoors, so from the very beginnings we tried to make our options as green as possible. This means more than just getting people out of cars for us; we also try to encourage them to explore, to get involved, and to go to other businesses and attractions.”
The judges felt that they were still in earlier stages of Responsible Tourism development and they look forward to seeing a further application when the model has developed further.
Silver: Whale Watch West Cork www.whalewatchwestcork.com
Whale Watch West Cork is an excellent example of a small scale family run marine tour operator focussed on marine wildlife. Nic Slocum designed his own comprehensive Code of Conduct for Whale Watching in 2005, a code which has governed their practise. Whale Watch West Cork is recognised as a leader in the field of responsible marine tourism in Ireland and the rest of the world reflected in Whale Watch West Cork winning a World Cetacean Alliance, Responsible Whale Watching award in 2013. More recently Nic Slocum has been instrumental in forming an alliance of responsible boat operators in Baltimore, West Cork in 2014 - Baltimore Whale and Dolphin Watch - with a view to positioning of Baltimore as the home of responsible marine tourism. The judges are interested to see how this new association develops.

Best Small Hotel or Accommodation for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a small (under 50 rooms) hotel, guesthouse, B&B or glamping business that can demonstrate principles of responsible tourism have been incorporated into every aspect of their business.
This is a very broad category reflected in the winners ranging from a small hotel to a camping experience; it attracted a large number of entries and the judges noted how strong entries were in this category which is why it was decided to award several silver awards in this category
Gold: Hotel Doolin  www.hoteldoolin.ie
The Hotel Doolin has won several green hospitality awards and the judges were particularly impressed by the willingness of the Hotel Doolin to share with us the data on their targets on energy, waste, water, green purchasing and community social responsibility. As one of their referees pointed out
“The hotel has its own polytunnels, adopts donkeys and runs a local shop with only suppliers from Co Clare and mainly the Burren . The hotel has been a key driver of many organisations from Burren ecotourism Network, Clare Slow Food ,and many local economic and cultural committees which has revived many festivals from Doolin Folk festival to writers festival and Irish Craft beer festival .
The hotel has invested in many capital intensive projects over the years from Combi Ovens in the kitchen to more carbon efficient ones were identified. Local Art now hangs on the walls, in the bathrooms local Voya Seaweed products are supplied and no individual packages of condiments are in the dining room. Local food is key to all menus and is evident all year round.”
Their 25 mile food purchase ethos has only one exception and that is only 100km away. The Hotel Doolin has gone well beyond the standard activities of leader in this field – for example closing the hotel to paying guests during Christmas 2014 to accommodate St Vincent de Paul families. The Hotel Doolin has demonstrated that it is possible to significantly improve the environment performance of an established hotel without significant structural changes while being extremely socially active The judges feel that this is a great model that could be replicated by other established hotels.
Silver: Ard Nahoo www.ardnahoo.com
The judges recognised that this is an inspiring example because sustainability was at the heart of the building of this retreat, as one of their referees put it “right from the concept development stage of their expansion, when they enlisted Living Architecture architect Peter Cowman, right through to their choice of eco- paints, they have had the environment and sustainability at the heart of their project.” The building fit into the landscape, heating is through renewables (wood pellets) and wherever possible they employ and source locally and they encourage visitors to engage in local activities to benefit other businesses in the area.
Silver: Pure Camping www.purecamping.ie
Passion for nature really came through in this application which demonstrated an integrated approach to tourism and environmental education. Pure Camping has eco-tourism accreditation and they have invested in facilities such as solar powered showers, composting facilities and have a net positive impact ethos in that that they attempt to show customers what they can do to benefit the environment when they go home. Pure Camping has been very active in contributing to the development of Loop Head as a destination. The judges were very impressed and look forward to seeing how it develops over the next few years.
Silver: Tory Bush Cottages www.torybush.com
One of the strongest entrants in terms of the investment in innovative sustainable design – the enterprise is now 90% powered by non-fossil fuels. Very strong in terms of the positive contribution to local wildlife – with bee hives on site, planting to suit red squirrels and the owner trained as a Geo Ambassador for the geo tourism region (Mourne Cooley Gullion). A genuine commitment to environmental stewardship and education came through in this entry.
Best Transport Initiative for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a transport operator demonstrating an innovative and responsible approach to visitor transportation. This award is focussed towards tourism transport businesses including, but not limited to, those operating tour buses, charter flights, ferries, taxis, shuttle vans, rural transport, bike hire, car hire & motor-caravan hire.
This category attracted a wide range of entries from transport to activity providers
Gold: An Taisce Green Schools Travel and Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark Partnership . www.burrengeopark.ie
An Taisce’s Green-Schools Travel programme have been encouraging children to cycle to school for several years, and the Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark created a partnership with the An Taisce’s programme’s officer for Clare; an innovative initiative taking experience from working with schools to encourage children to cycle and applying it to tourism. They have developed an app that will tell you where to get your bike fixed, measure your carbon footprint, lists public transport options etc. The programme provides free cycle training for tourism operators and attractive discounts from business in the Burren Ecotourism Network for all visiting cyclists. This is an ambitious behavioural change initiative underpinned by the provision of information and some incentives for those who use sustainable forms of transport in the Burren. The judges are interested to see how much this initiative grows over the next few years and whether or not it is replicated elsewhere.
Silver: Cycle Inishowen www.cycleinishowen.com
The judges wanted to recognise the efforts of Cycle Inishowen in offering cycling as a “fun alternative” to driving around Inishowen. This not only means visitors are travelling at a pace which allows them to better appreciate the beautiful scenery and wildlife, but the slower pace means they stay longer and spend more. Malin Head is the main attraction in Inishowen they have evidence of 200 customers choosing to visit Malin Head by cycle rather than driving. As the Wild Atlantic Way develops the judges hope that more visitors will be encouraged to cycle, this is a small beginning.
Silver: Rock Farm Slane www.rockfarmslane.ie
Rock Farm Slane is a glamping campsite and activity centre which offers a fleet of electric and hybrid bicycles and which goes out of its way to encourage its clients to arrive by public transport. As they pointed out in their application “Travelling on public transport requires more time, better planning and can be challenging for young families. So we have to convince our visitors and guests to do the same. This requires innovative marketing and incentives to motivate guests to make the extra effort to minimise the impact of their travel.” They have come a long way since the business opened in 2013 - the judges are interested to see how their approach develops overt the next few years.
Best for Responsible Tourism in a Marine or Coastal Environment
Awarded to a business, destination or community that have a specific approach or project that demonstrates responsible tourism in a marine or coastal environment. While nominations are sought from activity related businesses, such as kayaking, wildlife encounters, scuba-diving and surfing, this category is also open to nominations from other businesses, communities and destination development organisations that operate in a marine environment.

Gold: Dolphin Watch www.dolphinwatch.ie
Dolphin Watch are leaders in responsible wildlife watching having backed the case for a more responsible approach in the industry for many years, and were regional pioneers in this respect. They are dedicated to the conservation of the resident group of Bottlenose Dolphins at the Mouth of the River Shannon and the protection of their habitat. They have a very comprehensive set of environmentally sustainable practices ranging from recycling engine oil and paper through energy and waste management to cleaning products and practices. They support the efforts of marine scientists by providing a platform for their work and by educating the public in how to watch wildlife responsibly. The judges were impressed by the wide range of Responsible Tourism initiatives Dolphin Watch takes alongside its exemplary wildlife watching practices and it advocacy for this more responsible approach.
Silver: Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours  www.marinetours.ie
The team at Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours got excellent references for their “deep understanding of marine ecosystems and hands on approach in making sure the general public get to experience as much of the area as possible” with strong conservation content. Originating as a commercial fishing operation Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours is a fine example of how the transition to conservation and tourism can provide sustainable livelihoods and provide very satisfying work and experiences for visitors. In three years the business has grown to carry 5,000 visitors a year, the judges are interested to see how the business develops as it launches its second boat this year.
Silver: Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre & Nature Reserve www.traleebaywetlands.org
Committed to developing Tralee Bay as an ecotourism destination, the Wetlands Centre has established the North Kerry Ecotourism network to develop tourism in the area. Originally a landfill dump site the ecological restoration of this degraded site has been a success for wildlife and conservation. The Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre has taken a very broad approach to addressing its sustainability; the judges were impressed by its plans for the development of the area through the North Kerry Ecotourism network and look forward to see how the tourism dimension of its work grows.
Best Destination for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a destination setting an inspiring example for responsible tourism - this can include a village, town, city or region - places that use tourism to make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit. The winning destination will consider their community and environment to be at the heart of a memorable experience for visitors. Where the destination engages in promotion it promotes responsible holiday experiences that celebrate and protect the best of their destination. Particular consideration will be given to those destinations making the best use of the resources available to them.
Gold: Loop Head Peninsula www.loophead.ie
Three parishes work together in a network of over 50 businesses committed to developing the area in keeping with its landscape, culture and heritage. They have demonstrated that by working together a community can use tourism to achieve its purposes. They campaigned to prevent the opening of a café or craft shop at the lighthouse ensuring that these opportunities were for the local community; and they fought to prevent the widening of the roads that would have brought coach based tourism. Loop Head has demonstrated that a community can use tourism for its sustainable development rather than allowing tourism to use it. Their approach is to ensure that it is the local community that benefits from the forms of tourism which they encourage. They wrote in their application: “Our businesses and the people that work within them are the local community. They are the parents of the children who attend the local schools and shop in the local shops and make use of the local services.” Loop Head is an excellent example of how by working together a community can achieve the Responsible Tourism aspiration of using tourism to make better places to live in and better places to visit”; in that order.
As one of there referees wrote “With a strong focus on local foods, local geography and maximising local natural amenities, the Loop Head personnel have swiftly created a valuable identity, and the beginnings of a successful tourism brand. Their branding is very distinctive and strong, and there is also a strong sense of collective cohesion and unity with a design to promoting the region for the benefit of the local population, and doing so in a planned, sustainable way.”
Silver: Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark www.burren.ie
EU Life funding has enabled the creation of the Burren Ecotourism Network comprised of 30 tourism businesses and the development of the Burren Food Trail, heritage trails and the Burren Activity Trail. Ecotourism and awareness training are at the heart of the brand and of the code of practice. They use the European Tourism Indicator System and are very strong on training and standards, 34 tourism enterprises have to date implemented and improved environmental standards to a point that enabled them obtain independent, third-party certification; supported by four full-time and two part-time staff.
Silver: Sheep’s Head and Bantry Tourism Co-operative http://livingthesheepsheadway.com/
A marketing co-operative established in 2013 to bring together over 100 tourism businesses to develop a strong brand and marketing campaign to ensure that full benefit is derived from their position on the Wild Atlantic Way. They have successfully persuaded local businesses to promote the area as a whole, rather than just their own product, in order to extend length to stay and to increase yield for the area. They are encouraging walking and cycling and developing initiatives to reduce food miles.
Silver: Mulranny Community Futures http://mulranny.ie
Mulranny is a honeypot tourist centre with abundant natural and built heritage. Mayo County Council began the process of preparing a Village Design Statement for Mulranny in order to guide the future development of the village. On the Greenway and the Wild Atlantic Way, with the 6km Fáilte Ireland Loop Walk through 3 Natura sites, with a €1.7m project to construct the Mulranny Promenade and with the establishment of the National Herd of Old Irish Goats in 2014, Mulranny has benefited from significant investment in its tourism infrastructure. Mulranny Community Futures has 24 members and works with a host of organisations in the village including Mulranny Environmental Group, the Old Irish Goat Society and Tidy Towns. Partners include the Heritage Council, Mayo County Council, South West Mayo Development Company, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, an Taisce, the Smurfit Genetic Institute, UCD and the American Ireland Fund.
Best Cultural Heritage Attraction for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a tourism attraction or experience that is designed to protect and promote the heritage of a community, integrating principles of responsible tourism into every aspect of their operation. The winner will be an inspirational example of a memorable and enjoyable attraction where the traditions and culture of a community are at the heart of an experience.

Gold: Cnoc Suain www.cnocsuain.com
Cnoc Suain (restful hill), a restored 17th century hill-village set in 200 acres of Connemara’s ancient bogland which offers day experiences and immersive residential programmes which enable visitors to explore Irish culture. The day experience for groups provides an introduction to Irish music, song & storytelling, to the Gaelic language & poetry and to the natural heritage of bogland. They also offer a residential programme an immersion into the landscape, food and culture of Connemara. The judges were impressed by the breadth and depth of the cultural and natural heritage experience offered by Cnoc Suain. They have an extensive sustainability policy which encompasses the environmental, social and economic dimension; with a particular emphasis on the interdependence between local people and the surrounding environment, and the evolution of Irish traditional culture through that relationship.

They describe Responsible Tourism eloquently in their application: “Responsible travellers and locals share experiences – discovering each other’s culture, getting to understand their cultural differences and common humanity. Visitors also gain an appreciation of the natural environment in which local people live.

Responsible tourism contributes to the well-being of local communities and the preservation of local cultural, natural and built heritage. The income generated by this type of tourism filters down through the local economy. The traveller gains a 'head full' of experiences, memories and stories to tell, and a camera full of images to show family, friends and colleagues back home. Visitors also have the satisfaction of knowing their money will help make a difference to a local society.”

Silver: Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange & Knowth) www.newgrange.com/visitor.htm

Newgrange and related monuments in Brú na Bóinne were designated as a World Heritage Site in 1993. As one of their referees pointed out ensuring a high quality visitor experience has always been top priority for the management and all staff at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre where they take a consistent approach to ensuring the sustainable and long term management of the 5,000 year old Newgrange & Knowth monuments for the benefit of local people, visitors, businesses and for generations into the future. They have successfully managed increasing pressure from visitor numbers (close to 250,000 in 2014) through the visitor centre and provided community benefit through employment, engagement with local crafts people and schools. The site was threatened by visitor pressure in the 1990s but with World Heritage status and a new visitor centre and management plan the interests of tourism, the heritage site and the local community have been successfully balanced.

Silver: Mizen Head Signal Station Visitor Centre www.mizenhead.ie
In a remote and unpopulated area of Ireland the Visitor Centre interprets for the visitor the landscape and rock formations, provides a small number of jobs and boosts the business of local pubs, shops and hotels. Situated on the Wild Atlantic Way and surrounded by stunning coastal scenery the Visitor Centre ensures that visitors are made aware of the unique cultural features of life in West Cork, the marine cultural and lighthouse heritage.

Best Local Food Initiative for Responsible Tourism
Awarded to a food-related business or organisation that can demonstrate an approach to the production or sourcing of food based on responsible tourism principles. This could include restaurants, cafes, artisan food producers, country markets and collaborative groups or food trails within a destination. Within the museum there is a section on local crafts and the Visitor Centre is a focus for local food, culture and music festivals.

Gold: Archways B&B www.thearchways.ie
Since 2010 Archways has been transformed with solar water heating, biomass heating, gentle but insistent reminders about towel and linen use and the next venture is aquaponics for freshwater fish rearing. The food is very local: homemade sausages, locally dry cured bacon, very local free range hens and ducks eggs from local neighbours, and local cheeses and hams, Bacon and Strawberry Chilli jams, local fruit, vegetables and salads, local lamb, pork and Limousin Wagyu Beef, and in the absence of rice barley risotto. They have proved that local sourcing need not adversely affect either quality or variety, quite the contrary, they are in the Michelin Red Guide.. The judges were impressed by how far the environmental and food agenda have been pushed in a small B&B - this is a very responsible and replicable business model.

Silver: Burren Smokehouse www.burrensmokehouse.ie
Since 1989 they have been practising the ancient tradition of oak smoking salmon, trout, mackerel and eel. Burren Geopark Certified they practice reduce, reuse and recycle and play an active part in running the Burren Slow Food Festival. The Burren Brewery and Roadside Tavern Gastropub followed 4 years ago. The Gastro Pub Brewpub serves locally produced food – Burren Beef, Lamb, Burren Smoked Salmon, Burren grown organic vegetables pairing it with the Burren Black Stout, Burren Gold Lager and Burren Red Ale. They also offer an educational programme for schools and booked groups.

Silver: Orchard Acre Farm www.orchardacrefarm.co.uk
The south facing Eco Barn designed for energy conservation, with solar hot water, electricity from wind power this business has very strong environmental credentials. Their “Plot to Plate” story celebrates, educates and nourishes people using its own food resources. For Orchard Acre Farm the tourism facing food business was a farm diversification - “Responsible and eco-tourism has enabled us to uphold our beliefs in sustainability, whilst being able to offer our tourism services and without compromise.” Experiential learning activities on food topics, for groups as diverse as hen parties and school groups are their main source of revenue. An accredited centre of learning in horticulture they also work closely with drugs and alcohol rehabilitation programmes to provide therapeutic placements using horticulture and their “Plot to Plate” programme.
Best Adventure Activity Provider for Responsible Tourism

Awarded to an inspirational activity provider that can demonstrate their business is based on principles of responsible tourism and is making their community a better place to live in and to visit.\|

Gold: Atlantic Sea Kayaking & Wild Atlantic Way Walks www.atlanticseakayaking.com
For 20 years Atlantic Sea Kayaking has sustained the Kennedy’s family business. In order to provide an environmentally friendly way to live and make a living in a beautiful part of the world, they took to West Cork and the marine environment to be as sustainable and self-sufficient as possible. They pioneered sea kayaking in Ireland and have since become leaders in its activity sector. Atlantic Sea Kayaking operates in a range of locations, such as the very ecologically sensitive environment of Lough Hyne, Europe’s oldest marine reserve, as well as along the fragile ecosystems of West Corks islands and inlets. Their environmental philosophy is to respect, enjoy and protect the unique environment in which they work. Conscious of being guardians of the marine habitat, they use their knowledge of the local environment to ensure that fellow kayakers and water users appreciate not just its beauty, but also its fragility and its importance. They have been international ambassadors for Cork and Ireland in the activity tourism sector and played an instrumental role in securing the Adventure Summit for Ireland in 2014. As part of this role, they are stringent promoters of safety and training within the activity sector.

They run a rich programme including sea weed awareness tours, are guest presenters at Electric Picnic which is building an awareness of all things sustainable to a new young audience. Their tours feature marine life, seaweeds, music and local organic food. They visit schools and offer classes on the rock pools and how we can conserve water in our houses and in everyday life, and run regular summer camps for young people. This is a company which is constantly innovating, this year introducing traditional Currachs to their fleet not only to maintain their profile but also to promote Cork’s heritage.

Silver: Boyne Valley Activities www.boynevalleyactivities.ie
A founding member of Ecotourism Meath the company was silver certified by EcoTourism Ireland last year. The company runs kayaking, rafting and innovative medieval river tours on the River Boyne, floating down river with a guide, following the paths of our ancestors gives the visitor a real feel of the scale of the castles and monuments along the way. They describe their goal as deliver a unique fun filled experience to our visitors by way of an interactive tour that will immerse them in the culture and heritage of our region, responsibly, and with a minimum impact to our environment. They are contributing to the community by coaching the canoe club and providing access to work experience and, on a national basis; they have spearheaded The Boyne Canoe Trail, the first of its kind in the Republic of Ireland. The company is also wholly committed to river conservation, monitoring and auditing the river, in association with National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Silver: Life Adventure Centre www.onegreatadventure.com
The Life Adventure Centre grew 20% in 2015, they use renewably produced electricity, use a biomass boiler for space heating and hot water, and use multi-seat vehicles for transport to reduce fuel consumption.. The centre provides hill walking, canoeing, rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and wilderness survival techniques. In addition to providing adventure activities for tourists and day visitors they also provide taster opportunities for local adults, summer camps for young people and taster events for local schools, and provide complimentary use of the centre and facilities including local activity and sports clubs running local events. They employ the principles of Leave No Trace and Fair Trade and purchase locally.

Overall winner 2015 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards
Atlantic Sea Kayaking & Wild Atlantic Way Walks www.atlanticseakayaking.com
Acknowledging that there are many international class Responsible Tourism businesses amongst the winners this year, and that it was a very difficult choice, the judges felt that it was appropriate in the first year of the Irish Responsible Tourism Awards to recognise, as overall winner, Atlantic Sea Kayaking & Wild Atlantic Way Walks, pioneers of Responsible Tourism and international ambassadors for Ireland.

The Awards are not an accreditation scheme; they are not about certifying an organisation as responsible. The judges seek to identify and celebrate innovation, to inspire change in the industry, and to recognise organisations that demonstrate best practice. The judges and the organisers want the Awards to be the place to share stories about those organisations leading the way in Responsible Tourism. The judges can only consider those organisations which have been nominated and which take the time to complete the extensive questionnaire necessary to the judging process. On the judging day there was considerable debate about who should win in each category, it was a very strong field and it is hoped that many of those who have won gold or silver in the Irish Awards will nominate themselves for the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards.

Nominations are open for the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards. Please encourage the gold and silver Irish Responsible Tourism Award winners to entre for the World Responsible Tourism Awards www.responsibletravel.com/awards/

The judges look for examples of responsible practice which will excite interest and help us to drive the Responsible Tourism agenda forward, we particularly look for examples which will inspire and which are replicable. The judges look for examples of Responsible Tourism in practice that have some, or all, of the following characteristics:

• Demonstrate the application of Responsible Tourism in taking responsibility for making tourism more sustainable across the triple bottom line, addressing economic, social and environmental issues.

• Credible evidence of having exercised responsibility based on the questionnaires we send out to all those who make the long-list and the references that we take up.

• Novelty –we want organisations with original ideas, innovative approaches to solving problems in sustainable tourism, and unique initiatives that drive the Responsible Tourism agenda forward.

• A track record – proven results, demonstrable achievements illustrated with real data, well recorded metrics and detailed information about investment of time, effort and resources in Responsible Tourism initiatives.

• Replicability – practices and initiatives that are inspirational and have the potential to be applied elsewhere, adaptable concepts and ideas that could have an impact beyond their own business.

• Local focus – Responsible Tourism is not limited to a tick list of key requirements, we are interested in practices that address local issues and provide solutions with the local community in mind.

Competition for the 2015 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards was stiff and those who made the it through to the final round of judging, and many of those who did not, are worthy of commendation for their achievements. The judges will not be providing feedback on individual applications - the purpose of these notes on the winners is to explain why they were selected and to indicate what the judges are looking for. We would encourage everyone to consider entering again in the Irish Awards, those who have won gold or silver this year as previous winners are required to demonstrate that something significant has been achieved since the last time they were recognised in the Awards, it is tough to win a second or third time.

As Paddy Matthews Fáilte Ireland Brand Experience Manager, pointed out during the Awards process ,
“A more environmentally conscious and community-centred approach to developing tourism in Ireland is becoming more and more mainstream... and so it should. It results in more genuine and authentic experiences for all our visitors.”

The Judges for the 2015 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards were
Chair of Judges: Professor Harold Goodwin, Manchester Metropolitans University
Annabel Fitzgerald (Coastal Programmes Manager An Taisce)
Catherine Fulvio (Ballyknocken House & Cookery School)
Kevin Griffin (DIT tourism lecturer and former-EDEN awards judge)
Peter Krahenbuhl (former Tourism for Tomorrow judge)
Catherine Mack (responsibletravel.com)
Paddy Mathews (Fáilte Ireland)
Ruth Morgan (Environmental Policy Officer, Tourism Northern Ireland
David Owen (ex-UNEP Tourism)
In 2015 there were 450 nominations from across Ireland for the eight Awards. The judges considered each category in great detail, using a broad list of criteria that needed to be met by nominees that were shortlisted. If you were not shortlisted, this does not mean that the judges do not value your business or organisation and we encourage you to apply again next year. And if you were shortlisted, but did not win, please keep up the great work, and feel free to apply again next year - this year’s winners have the disadvantage next year of having had to find something new to accomplish in 2015-6 .