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Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 02/2020

February 7, 2020
Harold Goodwin
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    1. Climate change creates victims   
    2. Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency: Carbon offsetting is NOT the answer
    3. Vote for the most inspirational examples in the 2020 Africa Responsible Tourism Awards
    4. Responsible Tourism sets the pace in India
    5. Booking.com opens applications for its Booking Booster accelerator
    6. Overtourism affects more and more places 
    7. Belize bans plastic and a new Global Tourism Plastics Initiative to take effect in 2025
    8. Sex abusers set up orphanages overseas to target children
    9. Visiting Cocoa Farmers 
    10. Night Trains are coming back 


  1. Climate change creates victims
    We are accustomed to seeing images of floods in Kerala and Indonesia, raging fires in Australia and the heatwave in Europe but we rarely see the damage inflicted on the mental health of the victims. Hear it for yourself here:

This is what it means for the volunteers who fight the fires. Hear it for yourself here.

2. Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency: Carbon offsetting is NOT the answer
According to Nasa, Noaa and the UK Met Office, last year was the second warmest in a record dating back to 1850, and the 10 years to the end of 2019 have been confirmed as the warmest decade on record. We are beginning, only beginning to experience the impacts of climate change. As Sir David Attenborough has warned, "The moment of crisis has come". We have been putting off tackling this threat for years. Now climate change is directly impacting our lives. This BBC film explains how.

56 businesses and individuals working in tourism have joined Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency accepting that this “requires immediate and radical action by our governments, our industry and our business.” It does require radical action, offsetting is not the answer. Businesses should be very sceptical of voluntary offset schemes, cap and trade permits have their own problems. If you are retailing a carbon offset, it is presumably your liability. A disaffected consumer may come back to you for financial compensation for mis-selling and inflict collateral reputational damage.

Is carbon offsetting better than doing nothing? It is clearly possible to convince yourself and clients that it is, but for how long? Swimming with dolphins and visiting or volunteering in orphanages were thought to be good – until perceptions changed. As offsetting is more widely promoted it is likely to come under increasing scrutiny. For Shell Go+ customers, Shell will buy a carbon credit to offset or compensate, for these emissions. It costs the consumer nothing: “All you have to do is scan your Shell Go+ card when you purchase your fuel and we will offset all of the emissions from the production and use of the fuel.”

Climate change and the need to combat it is no longer a marginal issue. Even the UK’s Daily Express published Greta Thunberg’s Davos speech in full. This issue is becoming mainstream and there will be more attention focused on it. You will need to be able to defend your offsets!  The detailed reasons for being sceptical about voluntary offsets are here.

3. Vote for the most inspirational examples in the 2020 Africa Responsible Tourism Awards
Africa: the Best of the Last Five Years: see the winners in the World and Africa Responsible Tourism Awards since 2015. They have been grouped into four categories for the 2020 WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Awards: Responsible Business, Responsible Destinations, Benefitting Local People and Wildlife.  We started the Africa Awards to identify solutions and encourage change, five years on it is time to look for those which are most inspiring and which can, and should, be replicated. They are listed here with the judges' reasons. 
Take a look and vote for your choice of Africa's best in each of the four categories. 

4. Responsible Tourism sets the pace in India
Responsible Tourism is gaining momentum in India, there are some excellent winners in this year's India Responsible Tourism Awards. Village Ways has won three Responsible Tourism Awards for its walking and talking tours,  although not in the India Awards this year. The winners in the 2020 India Responsible Tourism Awards and the judges’ reasons can be found online here. In this year’s India Awards there are two more “walking and talking” winners.  No Footprints based in Mumbai won Gold in the Tour Operator category for enabling visitors to connect with the communities which have made the city what it is over generations, to meet with them, and to hear their stories. The Aga Khan Trust Culture with its partners in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti urban settlement home to 18,000 people adjacent to the Qutub Minar offers opportunities to walk and talk and engage with Quwwali music, poetry, food and rituals that have defined both the Hindustani culture and Sufism.
Only four Judges' Awards have been awarded and two of them have gone to work which began in Kumarokorum in Kerala to Jose Dominic for Clean Green Healthy Earth Hotels and Rupesh Kumar for the Kerala RT Mission. Madhya Pradesh has also adopted Responsible Tourism. India is rapidly becoming the leading destination for Responsible Tourism.

5. Booking.com opens applications for its Booking Booster accelerator
Booking.com has opened applications for the Booking Booster accelerator and we’re on the search for organizations with innovative products and services to help accommodations become more sustainable. The 2020 Booking Booster will consist of two complementary one-week programs exclusively focussed on sustainable accommodation:
6-15 May for organizations with innovative products and services to help accommodations become more sustainable
2-11 September for accommodations themselves, including those that are just starting their sustainability journey.
You can find more information about the Booster Program, including FAQs here.

6. Overtourism affects more and more places
The Balearic Islands have passed a law banning pub crawls and happy hours in three popular tourist destinations in a bid to crackdown on alcohol-fuelled holidays in Playa de Palma and Magaluf in Majorca and Sant Antoni in Ibiza. Organised pub crawls can no longer be advertised or held in Playa de Palma, Magaluf or Ibiza's West End. Party boats can no longer advertise in the three areas or pick up or drop off tourists there. Alcohol vending machines, free bars and adverts for alcoholic drinks are also forbidden, while authorities say shops selling alcohol must close from 21:30 to 08:00  and the new regulations have also outlawed "balconing", where people jump from hotel balconies, often into swimming pools. Businesses caught violating the new law face fines of up to €600,000 (£510,000) or be shut down for up to three years.

7. Belize bans plastic and a new Global Tourism Plastics Initiative to take effect in 2025
Following lobbying by the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, the government of Belize has banned single-use plastics, including shopping bags and styrofoam and plastic food utensils. Importation, manufacture, sale and possession have all been banned. Belize Department of the Environment

Meanwhile the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Tourism Organisation, in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative unites the tourism sector behind a common vision to address the root causes of plastic pollution.

The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative requires tourism organisations to make actionable commitments by 2025, to:

    • Eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging and items
    • Take action to move from single-use to reuse models or reusable alternatives
    • Engage the value chain to move towards 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable
    • Take action to increase the amount of recycled content across all plastic packaging and items used
    • Commit to collaborate and invest to increase the recycling and composting rates for plastics
    • Report publicly and annually on progress made towards these targets. Oneplanet Network

8. Sex abusers set up orphanages overseas to target children

The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse reported on January 9th that it has heard evidence of an “offending pattern where an individual sets up a shelter, orphanage or school, specifically to create an opportunity for sexual abuse”. The inquiry cited the case of Richard Huckle who abused scores of children in impoverished Malaysian communities while presenting himself as an English teacher and philanthropist. British men have been linked to sex offending in Kenya, Uganda, Malaysia, Indonesia. Thailand and Burma. Between 2013 and 2017 consular assistance was requested by 361 British citizens arrested for child sex offences. As of March 2018, only 0.2% of 58,637 registered sex offenders in England and Wales had foreign travel restrictions imposed on them. 

9. Visiting Cocoa Farmers
Ghana is ranked as the second most important producer of high-grade cocoa and adhere to the strict regime of voluntary sustainability. The global agrifood chain provides a connection for customers who would want to experience as tourists natural products fro example by interacting with cocoa farmers. Check out the opportunity

10. Night Trains are coming back
Night trains have returned to the tracks between Brussels and Vienna amid growing interest in alternatives to flying. The ÖBB now runs 27-night trains, alone or with partners, serving cities in Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Sweden is considering the launch of night trains between Malmö and other European cities. More


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