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Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 06/2020

June 25, 2020
Harold Goodwin
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  1. Covid-19 remains a crisis in many parts of the world
  2. The World Responsible Tourism Awards in the Year of Covid-19
  3. Tourism in a Covid World 
  4. Decarbonising Aviation 
  5. Racism in Tourism
  6. Responsible Tourism in India
  7. Build Back Better?
  8. Wildlife & Biodiversity 
  9. Travel Tomorrow
  10. Involving your clients in sustainability

    There is now so much news that from July Responsible Tourism News will be published fortnightly on or around the 15th and the end of the month. 

Responsible Tourism Hub provides quick links to curated material on RT. 

1. Covid-19 remains a crisis in many parts of the world
As The Economist pointed out at the beginning of the month poorer countries account for some three-quarters of the 100,000 or so new cases detected around the world each day. "Richer countries can do much to help. Some stricken places will need donations of simple supplies like testing kits and protective gear. Others will need debt relief, to free money to fight the disease." The tourism industry and our clients could help too. In the good times we sell these destinations, we should support them in the bad times too.
As this newsletter goes to pres there are close to 500,000 deaths and 10,000,000 confirmed case. The date is regularly updated on The Guardian website.

The Caribbean, Africa
At end of May Rafat Ali of Skift wrote that "we have to examine the controversial and unmistakable role of our industry of travel — the movement and the gathering of humans — in this, especially as the reopening of travel is gaining momentum every day. We can’t just hurtle into reopening with fingers in our ears. After all, our industry’s output, the globe of travelers, has been the biggest vectors of spreading the virus around the world. " And "We have to be willing to say that cruises were a super-spreader of the virus, despite knowing the risks of continuing with the sailings for weeks and months. We have to be willing to say restarting cruises early is the worst idea ever, and the industry’s biggest death wish if rebound “virus cruises” happen again." We should but will we?
As Steve Witt of Not Just Travel and The Travel Franchise has argued in Travel Weekly responsible travel must now embrace " our new found respect for freedom, health and each other’s space." And hopefully: "Responsible tourism means a greater respect and support for those in the tourism and hospitality industry who need to make a living with more costs and potentially less customers."
African tourism has been put on ice by coronavirus – here’s how some countries are reviving it more
In Indonesia the Covid-19 pandemic is challenging the survival of thousands of small and medium enterprises in tourism that will need creative crowdfunding philanthropic investment to stay afloat financially. more

WTM Responsible Tourism Awards

2. The World Responsible Tourism Awards in the Year of Covid-19
Covid has revealed the importance of tourism. When it stopped the contribution which tourism made, until the crisis,  to the livelihoods of local people and the maintenance of wildlife and habitat became all too apparent.  Some tourism businesses have taken responsibility and used their assets and their relationships with travellers, agents and suppliers to support communities and conservation. This year the World Responsible Tourism Awards have been refashioned to address the Covid-19 crisis. We are looking to recognise and commend those who have seen the impact of the crisis on communities and wildlife and responded.

There is a crisis: local people and wildlife dependent on tourism need your support
The Awards are open for nominations until 3rd August, you can nominate yourself and others simply by sending us a few details, and you can nominate as many times as you like.  Remember if you are not nominated, by yourself or someone else, you can't bb recognised or be commended.

3. Tourism in a Covid World
Hopefully there will be a vaccine and Covid will be controlled.  But for now, and for some time to come, we have to live with Covid-19.
WTTC has, with multiple partners, developed  'Safe Travels': Global Protocols & Stamp for the New Normal. #SAFETRAVELS. The protocols will be published  in phases  for at least eleven industries, including; Hospitality, Attractions, Outdoor Retail, Aviation, Airports, Short Term Rentals, Cruise, Tour Operators, Convention Centres and MICE, Car Rental and Insurance.
Inge Huijbrechts leading on the responsibility and safety & security agenda for the Radisson Hotel Group. Hear the latest thinking on post-Covid-19 hospitality, managing hotels and the supply chain and about advancing the responsibility agenda when resources are limited. video

Kempinski Hotels has produced a video explaining what they have done to ensure client and staff safety in their hotels.

The UNWTO has published a One Planet Vision for the Responsible Recovery of the Tourism Sector structured around six lines of action to guide responsible tourism recovery for people, planet and prosperity, namely public health, social inclusion, biodiversity conservation, climate action, circular economy and governance and finance. UNWTO's Global Guidelines to Restart Tourism were published at the end of May.

Spain has introduced a self-certification stamp of approval for businesses  which assert their compliance with official guidelines approved by the Ministry of Health. There no monitoring of compliance, but the seal must be renewed every year. more
In the UK VisitBritain has launched a ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and supporting mark means businesses across the sector can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and check they have the required processes in place. Coupled with a a ‘Know Before You Go’ public information campaign to support tourism in England as businesses start to re-open, reassuring visitors as restrictions are lifted by checking about what it is safe to do and when, and sign-posting to information about destinations and available services before travelling. more
Aran islanders have chose  ‘health over wealth’ as businesses remain shut, an Inis Oírr poll showed 92 per cent don’t want to risk a coronavirus outbreak with tourism return
Iceland is offering a choice: 14 days of quarantine or a a COVID-19 test upon arrival
St Lucia is implementing a responsible reopening plan 

4. Decarbonising Aviation
Arctic Circle temperatures have hit new highs reaching a scorching 38C (100F) in Verkhoyansk, a Siberian town. The Arctic is believed to be warming twice as fast as the global average. We cannot self isolate from climate change. Some airlines, for example KLM, have responded to challenge but most want to carry on with business as usual. In the UK Alok Sharma the the government minister responsible for business and climate change said earlier this month that "“COP26 can be a moment where the world unites behind a fairer, greener recovery from the effects of Covid-19. A recovery which delivers for both our people and our planet.” Hew was luancing the COP 26 Race to Zero UNFCC campaign.

The UK government has launched a Jet Zero Council:, a new collaborative initiative to decarbonise aviation;  a coalition of Ministers, businesses, trade bodies and environmental groups who will collaboratively work to align the aviation sector with the 2050 net-zero target. The UK Sustainable Aviation Coalition recently published a roadmap to achieve net-zero. Their roadmap focuses on fuel from waste, gives a low priority to electric aircraft and insists  that the UK’s aviation sector can grow by 70% over the next three decades without breaching climate targets – the UK Committee on Climate Change rejected this plan for business as usual.
For too long the aviation industry has been told that there is no alternative. TINA has been dominant. That is changing. There is an alternative. 
WTM hosted a symposium on  decarbonising aviation with presentations from leading research scientists, engineers and policy makers on the zero carbon fuels which are now within our reach. Aviation is not the problem. The problem is the dirty fuel they burn. The transition to clean fuels needs to begin now. Brief reports of the contributions from each of the speakers can be read here and videos of their presentations  are here.

5. Racism in Tourism
Alex Temblador has explained the problem eloquently. "The travel industry tends to think of itself as a space of leisure, fun, and escape where such things like racism are left behind for good times. The problem is, for black individuals and people of color, escaping racism is not something they can do by taking a vacation. Racism, like in many other sectors of society, has been built into the travel industry, both knowingly and unknowingly." more
The tourism industry needs to take responsibility and address racism throughout the sector. PwC and TTG have published a report arguing the business case for doing so. Download  Conde Nast Traveler  are reporting that the Black Travel Alliance has launched a  Black Travel Scorecard, which will evaluate destinations and travel brands under five key areas and they are promoting  Black-owned businesses, including tour groups like Experience Real Cartagena and African Lisbon Tours, which seek to amplify Black history or culture in a destination. Read the views of ten BAME people about the issues we need too address .

Justin Francis has described the broad agenda, changing attitudes, opening up travel, ensuring that more money finds its way into local hands,  finding ways to address and stop conscious or unconscious racist behaviour towards travellers of colour, ensuring that BAME communities are consulted about the impact tourism has on them. more

We need to take responsibility and address racism, in tourism 

6. Responsible Tourism in India
RT in India is often mistakenly assumed to exist only in Kerala. It is true that Kerala is the world's leading destination for RT but there are examples of award winning RT experiences all over the subcontinent. You can find a growing list of RT Award winners online.  ICRT India has a series of webinars with speakers from all over India. You can find details of the webinars on the Responsible Tourism Partnership website and set an alert to receive details.  In India as elsewhere "Community-based tourism organisations have been at the
forefront of providing relief to those most affected by the Covid-19 lockdown. They need your support to continue providing financial aid to help the most vulnerable." Details and donations here.

Manish Pande of Village Ways is one of the leading lights in the newly energetic ICRT India - there are a couple of interviews with her here. Rupesh Kumar has been widely recognised as a leader in RT having successfully led the RT Mission in Kerala since 2008. He too is a leader in the ICRT India, you can read an interview with him here. Incredible India is incredible in part for its rich diversity. Kerala locked down early and brought the virus under control. CGH Earth Hotels went further, Jose Dominic winner of a Judges' World Responsible Tourism Award characteristically went further than most. Out first and foremost responsibility is not the customer; it is our staff and people. We shut the hotels... We told all the employees to go home..." and maintain social distancing. more

Post-Covid Kerala is marketing to tier-II cities in south India. The campaign will project domestic travel as the best bet to break the lockdown fatigue among citizens. Kerala Tourism is planning to launch packages to extend length of stay through a focus on ‘learning experiences.’ Art, craft, culture, culinary skills amd martial arts are all planned. more The monsoon remains an under-marketed experience - enjoy it virtually.

7. Build Back Better?
The UNWTO's #TravelTomorrow message, "embraced by so many, is one of responsibility, hope and determination." However, with international arrivals estimated to be down by up to 80% this year there are plenty of people hoping that tourism will grow back better, in a greener and more sustainable way. The UNWTO's regional estimates are depressing/. WTTC is predicting 100m job losses with 75% of these in the G20 countries. Industry leaders, politicians, government and those who depend on tourism to feed themselves and their families. BAU, business as usual will be seen as the best way back. There are some signs of changes in a relatively few places and we should celebrate those, but this will be rare.  There is aspiration, for example in Thailand, is real, but delivery and implementation will be the bigger challenge.

In Venice Paola Mar, the city’s councillor for tourism is urging officials to use  the pause to rethink “an entire Venice system”, with sustainability and quality tourism at its core.
"Part of the plan is to lure locals back to live permanently in the city. The mayor is in discussions with universities, aiming to offer tourist rentals to students, and old buildings are being restored for social housing. Measures to control visitor numbers – including a tax on day trippers, which was due to be introduced in July – will go ahead next year, while the debate around cruise ships continues.   “Our goal is to trigger a renaissance of the city,” said Mar. “We want to attract visitors for longer stays and encourage a ‘slower’ type of tourism. Things can’t go back to how they were.”  more  The issue of overtoursm remains a major concern in Venice   Venice is empty and some want it to stay that way.

Venetian protesters formed a human chain along one of the city's iconic canals, demanding responsible tourism in the post-coronavirus period. Amsterdammers have launched petition to tackle overtourism. Launched on June 9th by 28 June there were close to 30,000 signatures. This proposal will now have to be considered by the city council. There is a broad citizens' movement to control tourism in Amsterdam. more
In Amsterdam the mayor urged extreme caution in reopening to tourists, while nonprofit group Amsterdam&Partners believes the tourist hiatus pushes to the top of the agenda plans to cut numbers, give Amsterdam back to locals and attract the “right” kind of visitor, and has launched a sustainability taskforce to map the way forward. “The main focus is that we want a sustainable visitor economy that doesn’t harm the livability of our city. If you have the right balance between living, working and visiting, you can have the right visitor economy. That’s what went wrong in the last years in the old city centre, and we have to entice locals to discover their city centre again.” more

Toronto in common with many cities in countries with a domestic tourism market the focus is on the local tourist. In Barcelona Mateo Asensioof the Barcelona tourist board. “Our first task is getting locals back out into the city, then the domestic market and our neighbours. When the international market returns, we’ll focus more on specific sectors. It’s an opportunity to change the rules.” more  Athens: two new bike lanes are to be created. The centre is being at least temporarily pedestrianised and the space made available for local restaurants, cafes and bars to expand. Prague is taking steps to rebrand itself as a cultural and gastronomic destination.  Berlin is introducing 14 miles of new bike lanes. Paris is increasing cycle lanes. There are fewer examples of initiatives outside of cities.

As Justin Francis has pointed out the  first rule of being a great city break destination is to focus on becoming the best place to live – and trust that tourism will follow.  The death of the office and the further depopulation of city centres is a major threat. Justin has published 11 steps to city resilience. How many will take them?

GLP Presents #TourismStrong Video Series. A series of hopeful and honest conversations to inspire you as they’ve inspired us. They have published a free report with key takeaways from their travel industry peers—TourismStrong: Insights to Survive & Thrive Post-COVID-19

8. Wildlife & Biodiversity
"Pandemics such as coronavirus are the result of humanity’s destruction of nature, according to leaders at the UN, WHO and WWF International, and the world has been ignoring this stark reality for decades." There has been a series of warnings since March, with the world’s leading biodiversity experts saying even more deadly disease outbreaks are likely in future unless the rampant destruction of the natural world is rapidly halted. more  We have seen many diseases emerge over the years – such as Zika, Aids, Sars and Ebola – and although they are quite different at first glance, they all originated from animal populations under conditions of severe environmental pressures. And they all illustrate that our destructive behaviour towards nature is endangering our own health – a stark reality we’ve been collectively ignoring for decades. Research indicates that most emerging infectious diseases are driven by human activities. more  World Animal Protection  organised 200 organizations to sign an open letter to the UN World Tourism Organisation urging them to call for all captive wildlife entertainment to be completely phased out of the global tourism industry. To minimise the risk of future pandemics, protect the health of tourists and tourism workers and to protect all wildlife species. Read the full open letter here.

The conservationist Chris Sandbrook spells out the problem, in stark terms: "The nature based tourism sector has collapsed, fieldwork is often impossible, and donors are withdrawing funds. This represents a serious challenge to conservation, which will endure for years to come. At the same time, there may be a glimmer of hope in that the situation could open up new possibilities for transformative change in relations between people and non-human nature."  He concludes "The covid-19 has triggered a crisis for public health, for biodiversity, for the economic system, and for the conservation sector. The world will never be quite the same again. The question is, what kind of world will emerge?"  What will the tourism sector contribute to secure the future of the wildlife and habitat which is such a key part of our sector but for which we have paid too little, for too long

In Thailand captive elephants are being led into the mountains to find food. more  The Spanish multinational company Iberostar Group has become the first tourism business to fund the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI).

9. Travel Tomorrow
António Buscardini explains Travel Tomorrow balancing sustainability and economic recovery post C-19. The tourism of tomorrow will be rooted in local communities. In neighbourhoods , villages and cities that thrive, and as a result, enjoy welcoming enthusiastic visitors. A flourishing community is very much connected to its specific place; where people work together, where visitors feel at home and residents can nurture and share their love for the place. 


10. Involving your clients in sustainability
Christopher Warren, aka the Green Butler, explains why culture and engaging clients in responsibly managing their resource use is good for business.


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