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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 03/2024

April 2, 2024
Harold Goodwin
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Sabre is now sponsoring the Global Responsible Tourism AwardsThere are six categories in 2024:    (1) Making Travel Inclusive (2) Championing Cultural Diversity (3) Nature Positive (4) What are you doing about Climate Change? (5)  Increasing local sourcing- Creating shared value (6) Employing and Upskilling Local Communities. Gold winners in each regional awards programme automatically enter the Global Awards.
The ICRT India Foundation Awards  are open until June 30th enter
The Latin America, LATA, Awards are open; until 10th May  enter
The Rest of the World Awards are open until August 31st enter
The ICRT South East Asia Awards are open until 30th June 2024  enter
There is further information about the 2024 Awards here

The 2022 Responsible Tourism Charter points out that responsibility drives sustainability, lists the most significant issues that need to be addressed, and asserts the importance of transparent reporting to demonstrate what is being achieved and avoid greenwashing.
Responsible Tourism is about using tourism to make better places for people to live and better places for people to visit. How can we “do tourism better”?

The 17th International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations is at Piggs Peak Hotel in Eswatini on 17th April to explore practical strategies for benefitting local communities by applying Porter's idea of growing the cake by creating shared value. Enriching local communities and the guest experience.  Full details and registration.

International Conference on Responsible Tourism and Hospitality (ICRTH) 6-11 August 2024 Kuching, Sarawak Details

  1.  Responsible Tourism at WTM Africa 
  2.  The end of Greenwashing?
  3.  Tourists and Responsible Tourism 
  4.  Tourism & Climate Change
  5.  Destination & the Industry 
  6.  Scotland & Responsible Tourism 
  7.  Irresponsible Tourists  Spain
  8.  Last Chance Tourism: Irresponsible?
  9.  Responsible Tourism and the USA
  10.  Miscellaneous

    1.  Responsible Tourism at WTM Africa

The Responsible Tourism programme at WTM Africa is extensive. The full programme is available HERE. There are two sessions on creating meaningful connections for tourists, which are always good for referrals and repeat business. There are panels on creating shared value, enriching the tourist experience and local communities, positive impact tourism, nature positive tourism and a debate and briefing on the implication of the EU Green Claims Directive and the action being taken on greenwashing; see the next item. There is a free full-day Responsible Tourism Conference on Thursday, and the 2024 WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Awards will be presented at 16:00, followed by a drinks reception. There are business opportunities, Take a look

2.  The end of Greenwashing??
The EU has passed the Green Claims Directive designed to clamp down on greenwashing.  The EU  Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) came into force in January, applying to all large companies (>250 employees and/or >€40 million) and to listed small and medium-sized businesses, except listed micro-enterprises. This is already impacting businesses in the supply chain of companies selling into Europe. There is also a risk that companies will cease to make any green claims, reducing the incentive to make businesses more sustainable. In June, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority recognised in an opinion piece on “Greenspeaking with confidence”, the danger that action against greenwashing may encourage greenhushing and argued that there is no binary choice to be made between greenwashing or greenhushing;   “accuracy and transparency of communications” are they say the key. Booking has abandoned its Travel Sustainable filter, retreating to third-party certification, which fails to empower consumers or enable the leaders in sustainability to stand out.

UN Tourism has adopted a new Global Standard to Measure the Sustainability of Tourism time will tell how widely it is used and how useful it will be. The Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (SF-MST) runs to 182 pages.  In the UK from this year, large companies face large fines, up to 10% of global turnover, if greenwashing is proven. This is a major strengthening of consumer protection law to be enforced by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA is reported to have spent £1.3 million (€1.52 million) and an estimated 29,471 working hours on its probes into greenwashing between September 2021 and January 2024. Will this be the end of greenwashing and usher in a new era of green-hushing?

3.  Tourists and Responsible Tourism
Businesses and destinations can influence which tourists arrive at their destination through their marketing, and they can "choice edit": If there are no plastic bottles of water on sale, tourists will not litter the place; they will use the alternatives provided. Travellers are part of the solution; as JoAnna Haugen argues, "people are interested in making better choices when they travel. ... the tourism industry still has a long way to go in making these choices available, accessible, and visible to travelers." We need to engage them and make action easy.
Wales: Eryri National Park (formerly Snowdonia) faces mounting challenges, including parking congestion, littering, anti-social behaviour and illegal parking. Eryri’s National Park Authority, North Wales Police, the National Trust, Cyngor Gwynedd, Natural Resources Wales, and local Councillor June Jones, are joining forces to promote sustainable tourism practices and raise awareness about the importance of respecting the local communities, landscapes and biodiversity. More on the views of different agencies.
Nepal: to require all Mount Everest climbers to be fitted with a tracking chip
Dublin: Tourists asked to stop groping the breasts of Dublin’s Molly Malone statue
Cotswolds UK ‘Lunch in the Prettiest Village in Britain’ Telegraph journalist Jack Rear joined a Cotswolds coach tour to find out why they are so hated
Storytelling: Dr. Jens Thraenhart explains that "Authentic storytelling has emerged as a powerful tool in promoting sustainable tourism, striking a balance between growth and conservation, and fostering meaningful contributions to local communities. ...Authentic storytelling in tourism involves sharing real, unembellished narratives about a destination’s culture, history, and people. It’s about telling the stories that are intrinsic to a place, often told by the locals themselves. This authenticity not only enriches the tourist experience but also fosters a deeper understanding and respect for the local culture and environment."
The Telegraph ran 
Seven ways that climate change will alter our holidays by 2050
1. Your summer holiday could be in northern Europe (or not in summer at all)  2. Those overwater villas could be underwater 3. City breaks will be hotter – but leafier 4. We’ll treasure the underwater world 5. Travel insurance could get pricier 6. Britain could be leading the way in wine tourism 7. Ski resorts will be summer ones too

4.  Tourism & Climate Change
We are going to bequeath our greenhouse gas emissions to our children - we ought not to be doing that. We need to look beyond the travel and tourism silo. At WTM London, a significant part of the audience left the room when the hydrogen-powered aviation panel started. This was sad because it was easily the most optimistic session, and it was disappointing because it revealed the unwillingness of so many in our sector to engage with the aviation issue and the hydrogen solution. The panel discussion at WTM London in November 2023 is available as a podcast, Decarbonising Aviation – Is Hydrogen Part of the Solution? The illustrations and speaker details are available here  There is every reason to expect Airbus to have a hydrogen-powered plane flying in the middle of the next decade.

It is not just air temperature that is rising.

The World Weather Attribution researchers used weather data and climate models to compare how droughts have changed in the region since global heating has pushed up temperatures by about 1.2C.
The combination of increased consumption, the "explosive growth of tourism,"  and prolonged drought is depleting resources in the Cyclades. Johannesburg is experiencing a severe drought with reservoirs at 30% capacity, a country already famous for its hourslong electricity shortages is now adopting a term called “watershedding”. more
After 1,000 days of drought, Catalonia has declared a drought emergency; Barcelona has been under emergency restrictions since February, public fountains are dry and beachside showers have been shut.
Wildfires are wreaking havoc in the Texas Panhandle " Scientists say that a combination of abnormally high winter temperatures, low relative humidity and strong winds—conditions becoming more common with climate change—is what transformed the region into a tinderbox and enabled the flames to spread uncontrollably."
Climate change is creating health emergencies in ten ways, from cholera to heat stress.
Doubt is being cast on the value of banning short-haul flights, which have been attacked for being largely symbolic and disproportionately disruptive  The backlash is disappointing but to be expected. There is more here.
Iberostar  has published its WAVE OF CHANGE 2023 YEAR IN REVIEW, covering its Responsible Tourism achievements. The baseline is 2019, there  has been a reduction of 12%, a 6% reduction in the AME region and an impressive 32% reduction in the EMEA region.
Heated World Report: Boeing's big green disaster.  Boeing "737 Max is an example of where competition actually led to worse long-term results. Because the pressure to prioritize speed over innovation resulted in a flawed product that claimed nearly 350 lives, and endangered hundreds more. The problem wasn’t that Boeing wanted to make a more sustainable plane. It was that Boeing used sustainability as merely a tool on its quest for profit. And the company, consumers, and the climate paid as a result."

5.  Destinations & the Industry

Overtourism is complex – careful analysis is required
Entrance fees, visitor zones and taxes are being used across Europe to tackle overtourism, from Seville to Venice to Amsterdam, Europe is learning to improve locals’ lives by curbing tourists’ enthusiasm. More in The Guardian In Australia, ABC News asks "As over-tourism grows, are there places on Earth we should be barred from visiting?" The BBC reports "Tourist taxes are now as much a part a trip as selfies and souvenir shops. And more are on the way."
" As the Hope Standard reported this month, Overtourism is increasingly recognised as a threat in British Colombia, The Sea-to-Sky Destination Management Council launched the impactful “Don’t Love It to Death” program back in 2022.
The ITT’s Sustainability Committee has revealed less than a third (30%) of the UK’s biggest travel companies have proactively and publicly published comprehensive sustainability plans, 40% failed to mention sustainability at all, only 14% had set science-based targets aligned with the Science-Based Targets initiative’s Corporate Net-Zero Standard; and just three had signed the Glasgow Declaration.
Hawaii is reshaping its tourism offer. Hawaii’s tourism authority is now majority Hawaiian-run; reservations must be made up to 30 days ahead, depending on the season and the place, before visiting a park or nature reserve; at Hanuama Bay Nature Preserve in Oahu, visitor numbers will be capped at 720 per day; parking and entry fees for non-residents are being introduced at sites across the islands; some locations are introducing educational videos for visitors to watch before they are allowed to set foot inside their chosen attraction; and there is a return to authenticity. For example, the luau traditional dance will no longer feature girls in grass skirts but traditional skirts and loincloths made of kapa, or bark cloth, which 19th-century missionaries thought were inappropriate. Tourists are encouraged to take part in projects such as tree planting, so they have an opportunity to care for and give back to their destination.
The EU has finally reached an agreement on the regulation of packaging waste.  "Hotel room shampoo bottles to be banned in Northern Ireland but not in the rest of the UK, new EU net-zero laws on packaging waste will also see plastic shrink wrap and sauces in plastic sachets prohibited under Windsor Framework, more in The Telegraph
In Kenya, tourism developers’ dismissal of communities may cause the crisis; benefit-sharing ventures have become a hard bargain between investors and host communities in Kenya’s popular destinations. Host communities in Kenyan destinations are rarely involved in tourism development, thus they are not factored in as potential recipients of tourism benefits. more
In Ireland, Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, has launched an online survey seeking the public's views to help finalise a new Tourism Policy Framework for 2030.

6.  Scotland & Responsible Tourism
VisitScotland has partnered with Tourism Cares "to profile trade-ready, responsible tourism experiences in Scotland." Scotland is the first European destination to feature on their Meaningful Travel Map VisitScotland is partnering with The Travel Cooperation to reduce carbon emissions in the supply chain, the "first time that VisitScotland and any global tour operator have committed to work together to share learnings, insights and support each other in accelerating change and being part of the climate change solution." A new guide to reducing climate impact is available online As Shannon Guihan, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Travel Cooperation, points out their "collaboration ... takes a long-term approach, and places equal emphasis on both community benefit and the path to net zero. The latter challenge requires both sides – the destination and the tour provider – to address the elements that are within their purview, in order to see genuine advancement."
Welcome to Fife has become a signatory of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism. " As sustainable tourism gains prominence as a key visitor demand, it presents an opportunity for growth and resilience in the sector." The South of Scotland Responsible Tourism Strategy and action plan, which sets out radical plans for tourism in the region between now and 2034, was formally unveiled at the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA)’s third Annual Conference. The strategy aims to create 6,000 more jobs and more than double tourism spend, increase the number of higher-spending, longer-staying international visitors and "act responsibly for long-term collective benefit." More on Responsible Tourism in Scotland 

7.  Irresponsible Tourists Spain
In Malaga bar owner Dani Drunko has recently been told to move out of his home of 10 years because the owner plans to transform the property into tourism accommodation. The news of the local being kicked out of his home started a wave of signs and posters appearing all over the city, telling tourists to go away. Most of the signs are in Spanish, with messages like “a tomar por culo de aquí” (get the fuck out of here), “a tu puta casa” (go back to your fucking house), “apestando a turista” (stinking tourists) , or, in a milder version, “antes esta era mi casa” (this used to be my house) and “antes esto era el centro” (this used to be the [city] centre).
UK tourists going to Benidorm, Alicante and Majorca this year are being warned in the Express that there are large fines for going to the beach between midnight and 7am, taking your clothes off on a non-nudist beach, and travelling in an unlicensed taxi. Similar warnings have been carried in local papers in the UK Stoke Sentinel, Bristol Post, Birmingham Mail,
GB News is reporting possible new rules on restaurant opening hours as though they are targetted at British tourists; they are not. "Spain tourist backlash: Britons 'will take money elsewhere' as Spain proposes new rules on UK tourists
Barcelona Spanish city overrun by predictable tourists who arrive and ‘visit all the same spots’
Perhaps as a consequence of all this negative press, the Spanish Tourist Office has reported that UK visitors’ average stay in 2023 was 6.91 days, down from 7.29 days in 2019 (a decrease of 5%). The overall trend is for the length of stay in Spain to increase. The TTG reports that "Spain has vowed to tackle a slight fall in the average trip duration among UK visitors, with a focus on sustainability a key part of the country’s strategy."

8. Last Chance Tourism: Irresponsible?
Last Chance to See NYT correspondent Paige McClanahan has pointed out that Throughout history, "humans have raced to be the first to scale a peak, cross a frontier, or document a new species or landscape", but "now, in some cases, we're racing to be the last." Why last-chance tourism is the latest controversial travel trend
Last-Chance Tourism Surge: Racing Against Climate Change to See Vanishing Wonders
"Destinations like the Mer de Glace glacier in the French Alps are witnessing a significant increase in visitors, eager to experience their beauty before it's too late. However, this influx of tourists and the infrastructure developed to accommodate them, such as new ski lifts, are causing further harm to these already vulnerable sites. The debate around the sustainability of such tourism is growing, with concerns that the desire to witness these natural wonders firsthand may actually be accelerating their demise."
Tourism to Antarctica is also booming in the 2022-23 season IAATO Statistics
For the first time, traveller numbers (104,8970 exceeded 100,000 since the continent opened to scientific expeditions and tourism in the 1950s. In 2019-20, pre-Covid, there were ~74,000
Antarctica is now beginning to experience overtourism. It is a finite and vulnerable continent without a form of governance that can effectively limit its numbers and regulate the activity and impacts of tourism.

9.  Responsible Tourism and the USA

The town of Jim Thorpe, in Pennsylvania, was named after the American athlete and Olympic gold medalist, a member of the Sac and Fox Nation. Jim Thorpe is experiencing overtourism, and there is evidently mounting concern there about it. The discussion with leaders from the sector in Jim Thorpe is available online and points to the relevance of Responsible Tourism there. Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada, straddling the border between California and Nevada, is experiencing problems with tourism. "Tahoe’s tourism reputation is marred by negative perceptions that cast a shadow over its positive contribution".  Lake Tahoe Destination Stewardship  reports that it is "dedicated to fostering a more responsible tourism approach to ensure the sustained well-being of our community." They are using transient occupancy tax (TOT) funds, to deliver: "Transportation enhancements for residents and visitors; partnerships with key organizations delivering unique and sustainable recreational options; and investing in new and innovative programming focused on environmental and community enhancements."  In Colorado, the recently launched Global Explorers Hub aims to "guide customers to adopt environmentally friendly and civilized travel methods, advocate the concept of responsible tourism, and work together to protect our planet home."
The Daily Kos is the US's largest progressive, independent news and activism hub focused on NEWS YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT, "The Climate Clock Is Ticking... What has been foretold is now happening..."

10.  Miscellaneous 

  • Hydrogen-powered rail: The FLIRT-H2 has set a world record, travelling non-stop for 2,803 km. It was designed and built for San Bernadino County Transportation Authority in California. The two-car model can carry 108 passengers and has a top speed of 79 miles (130 km) an hour. Between the two passenger cars, its fuel tanks store hydrogen in a “power pack”.
  • Finland is again the happiest country as it was last year, followed by Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Israel.  The full list and maps are here, 
  • Antarctic The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators reports that China is now the second-largest source of travellers to the continent,
  • Audley Travel has published their annual sustainability report: Travel the right way 
  •  easyJet holidays, launched its new animal welfare policy, which includes a commitment to only offering experiences that do not threaten the welfare or conservation of animals and their important role in the global environment. easyJet holidays will not be offering or promoting any harmful animal-based attractions in their tours and activities programme, including captive dolphin venues, zoos, animal performances, rides and sporting events. World Animal Protection
  • Juliet Kinsman has written about Zita Cobb, founder of Canada's Fogo Island Inn
  • Kerala’s Responsible Tourism Mission woos globetrotters to the countryside......
  • Data Appeal in conversation with tourism experts on decarbonising hotels (Paloma Zapata), managing overtourism (Harold Goodwin)   and making a city more sustainable (Jelka Tepšić,)

27 March  Droughts impact tourism
20 March  Booking is changing its Travel Sustainable filter
14 March  Inside the revolution at ‘incompetent’ Heathrow
07 March  Bequeathing our emissions to our children

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Responsible Traveller, South Africa
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