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Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 08/17 2020

August 16, 2020
Harold Goodwin
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  1. Covid-19 the New Normal
  2. Destinations Rethinking Tourism 
  3. More conscious travellers 
  4. Trust and Confidence 
  5. Travel Roulette
  6. Easing of Restrictions in South Africa 
  7. Anti-lockdown Protests
  8. The Pope speaks out for Responsible Tourism  
  9. The future of cruise tourism
  10. Miscellany 

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

1. Covid-19 the New Normal

Scientists are warning that we have created "a perfect storm" for diseases from wildlife to spill over into humans and spread quickly around the world. "In the last 20 years, we've had six significant threats - SARS, MERS, Ebola, avian influenza and swine flu," Prof Matthew Baylis from the University of Liverpool told BBC News. "We dodged five bullets but the sixth got us."And this is not the last pandemic we are going to face, so we need to be looking more closely at wildlife disease." Many scientists agree that our behaviour - particularly deforestation and our encroachment on diverse wildlife habitats - is helping diseases to spread from animals into humans more frequently. According to Prof Kate Jones from University College London, evidence "broadly suggests that human-transformed ecosystems with lower biodiversity, such as agricultural or plantation landscapes, are often associated with increased human risk of many infections".

Between 2011 and 2018, WHO tracked 1483 epidemic events in 172 countries.  Epidemic-prone diseases such as influenza, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Ebola, Zika, plague, Yellow Fever and others, are harbingers of a new era of high-impact, potentially fast-spreading outbreaks that are more frequently detected and increasingly difficult to manage. Fig. 1 demonstrates the global emergence of selected pathogens over the past 50 years, including both those that naturally emerge/re-emerge and those that are deliberately released. The report is available to download.


Euromonitor International has used its Travel Forecast Model to forecast the sector's 2020 experience, cruising is forecast to drop 58%, airlines by 46.9%, traditional package holidays by 46.6%,   hotels by 44.1% and campsites by 32.7%. With staycations removing most of the risk of quarantine.  76% of consumers expected to holiday closer to home in the short to mid-term, global domestic tourism is forecast to a marginally less severe decline of -33.0% in 2020, from 12.9 billion trips taken in 2019 to 8.6 billion in 2020. Euromonitor concludes that: "The travel industry is broken with COVID-19 shining a light on the fragile cracks in the system, with 80% of companies surveyed witnessing a drop in bookings between 60% to 100%."

The burgeoning middle class in the developing world has driven a great deal of the growth in domestic and international tourism. Governments in rich countries are helping the middle classes ride out the crisis, "few low- and middle-income countries can afford to emulate them." The travel and tourism sector will be badly impacted by a fall in disposable incomes.

2. Destinations Rethinking Tourism
The growing acceptance of the importance of Responsible Tourism has been accelerated and deepened by the experience of Covid-19. Destinations have had a holiday from tourism. Overtourism crept up on destinations and it was accepted. Covid-19 reminded residents of what their place was like before tourism and raised awareness of both negative and positive impacts. While most destinations are in the survival phase some are already looking to build back better and to use tourism rather than to be used by it. more

The Guardian has a long article reporting on "How coronavirus is reshaping Europe's tourism hotspots". There is discussion of Barcelona, Prague and Venice with excellent photographs revealing public spaces before Coivid-19 and during it.


After negative comments about ‘diseased’ visitors, parking, litter and ‘selfish’ beach-goers, Jones, chief executive of North Wales Tourism, warned o that negative comments about second-home owners and tourists hold the Welsh economy back. He added that those who choose Wales as a second home make up a significant part of Welsh communities too. Theo Davies-Lewis is a Welsh communications strategist and political commentator argues that local authorities need "to police current coronavirus restrictions more stringently and effectively. After all, visitors to beauty spots such as the Gower would have been as shocked as I was this weekend by the sheer absence of authority to enforce distancing rules that were broken repeatedly." He called for "an urgent meeting with the devolved administrations to agree how best to manage responsible tourism during a global pandemic." And asserted that "Our communities should not be treated solely as holiday homes: more importantly, they are the cradles of a historical language and breath-taking nature. Both should be respected by visitors, no matter where they are from..." more

In the Scottish Highlands MSP John Finnie has called for action to understand the impact of tourism following a spate of incidents of irresponsible behaviour by some visitors. "Whether it’s the disrespect for the Commando Memorial, the cutting down of trees for campfires or the reckless disposal of human waste, some visitors have made communities across the Highland and Islands anxious and, in many cases, angry." He argues that "these issues require to be robustly dealt with by local authorities and the police now and a clear signal given about what responsible tourism means." Lord Thurso, chair of VisitScotland, has expressed confidence that there will be a "rebalancing" of tourism following the surge in post-lockdown visitors that has led to a catalogue of complaints in the Highlands and other parts of the country. "Put it this way: I think I’d rather deal with the problems of success than the problems of having no tourists.” He points out that "Many young people live in small, cramped flats and they’re desperate to get some fresh air and freedom. Normally they would probably be going on a package holiday to Spain or somewhere like that, all of which they can’t do. So you have a large number of people who have been cooped up, who are desperate to get out and about, whose normal holiday places are unavailable, and naturally they head for the hills and the coasts.... this is a particular circumstance and hopefully in future years we will see a return to more normal tourism." “At the moment Glasgow and Edinburgh hotel occupancy is sitting at under 20 per cent. Holiday homes outside the cities are sitting at 90 per cent occupancy. Normally Edinburgh would be 100 per cent occupied."

National Parks, conservation, wildlife and nature have become increasingly dependent on revenues from tourism. At WTM, London in November there will be a panel on tourism and biodiversity with senior leaders form conservation and the industry. The residents, human, plants and animals on the tiny island of Lundy off the Devon coast are at risk because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lundy was the UK’s first-ever marine conservation zone and is a special area of conservation and a site of special scientific interest. From a low of just 13 individuals at the turn of the century, there are now more than 400 puffins on Lundy and numbers of Manx shearwaters rose from 297 breeding pairs in 2001 to more than 5,000 by 2018. Lundy has been closed for three months, it is now open but social distancing rules have cut its daytripper capacity from 250 to 90. The island needs to raise £300,000 to make it through to next spring. more

Cities like York in the UK  with around 30,000 people working in the badly hit retail, hospitality and tourism sector – about one in four of all jobs – of whom about half are on part-time or zero-hours contracts are likely to be hit hard by the pandemic. Analysis by the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, based on research by the Treasury’s independent forecaster, estimates that as many as 13,835 jobs in York will be lost in the scenario considered most likely, taking the city’s unemployment rate to 14.5% – the highest since modern records began in 1971 and more than double the rate in the economic slowdown of 2011. Sam Leach,  co-founder of Spark:York, a community interest company, launched in 2018, describes York as a “tale of two cities” – one geared towards tourists but prohibitively expensive for locals, particularly the younger generation. more

3. More conscious travellers   

UK research by academics at Cardiff and Manchester universities into lifestyle choices adopted during the lockdown has found that the level of concern about climate change had increased. The research also suggested that the pandemic and lockdown.  The academic survey covered 1,800 respondents in May 2020, over 90% of respondents said that tackling climate change required at least a moderate level of urgency with more than two-thirds saying that climate change needs to be addressed with a high level of urgency. This understanding inevitably affected people's reporting of their willingness to tackle climate change. 40% accepted that they should definitely limit their amount of air travel and over 40% that they should probably limit their flying. Less than 15% reported that they did not really need to do this. It remains to be seen whether this realisation fo the need to fly less will lead to a significant reduction if and when Covid-19 passes.

Some travellers and holidaymakers too will be rethinking the experiences they seek. Anastasia Miari, asked in the UAE's TheNational:  "As tourists begin to tentatively spread their wings once more, the hope is that we will begin to travel with a newly acquired consciousness, which could have far-reaching consequences on both people and the planet."

4. Trust and Confidence
Trust is the new currency of travel but in a fragmented industry with any trip involving multiple businesses and fellow consumers from multiple places delivering a safe environment is very challenging. The pandemic has revealed the contribution which travel for leisure, business and work makes to the spread of viruses and demonstrated the danger of dependency on tourism. Governments around the world have sought to protect their citizens and health services by closing borders and imposing quarantine on those arriving from areas with higher rates of Covid-19 infections. While there is optimism that vaccines will be found to contain the virus and more effective treatments to reduce the impact of further waves of infection will be developed, it is not yet possible to determine the new normal.

With over 280,000 new cases, of Covid-19 being reported daily the pandemic is going to dominate decision making about travel for a long time yet. Travelling is a great deal riskier than it was.

5.  Travel Roulette
In the UK Thousands of UK holidaymakers were given just over 24 hours to get back to British soil from France, those who chose to stay on and finish their holiday and those who could not get transport by air, rail or ferry now have to self-isolate for 14 days. Those expected to return to teach at the beginning of the school term, those with children due to begin school and those unable to work from home have no choice but to curtail their planned holiday. Heathrow Airport accused the government of "quarantine roulette" and called for testing in airports to boost demand and reduce the risk for travellers of having to quarantine on return or arrival. The Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba were also removed from the travel exemptions list at short notice. more
Covid-19 continues to frustrate holidaymakers and hosts alike

6. Easing of Restrictions in South Africa
Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that from midnight on Monday, the 17th of August South Africa will move to alert level 2. Economic activity will be allowed with the necessary and appropriate stringent health protocols and safety precautions in place. All restrictions on inter-provincial travel will be lifted. International Accommodation, hospitality venues and tours will be permitted according to approved protocols to ensure social distancing. Restaurants, bars and taverns will be permitted to operate according to approved protocols as to times of operation and numbers of people. more This augurs well for the beginning of the recovery but much will depend on the details of the protocols and the continued decline in infection rates.

7. Anti-lockdown Protests
In Germany, there is a growing protest movement against the government's handling of the pandemic and in particular, the curbs on individual freedom imposed to tackle the virus. There is a broad range of opposition from far-right extremists and anti-vaxers to people  "waving peace and rainbow flags, as well those with placards reading "Jesus Lives!"'  Deutsche Welle (DW) reported that "the 6th August event had been organized by a controversial Stuttgart-based organization known to have staged the country's largest anti-coronavirus lockdown protests so far. That day's theme — "Tag der Freiheit," or "Day of Freedom" — was eerily reminiscent of the title of a 1935 Nazi propaganda film by Leni Riefenstahl." moremore

There is an ethical dilemma as a minority reject the views of mainstream politicians, the mainstream media and scientists. A wide range of people feel that their fundamental freedoms are under threat, that ministers are acting beyond their constitutional powers. Politicians are looking at increasing their powers to curb the pandemic.

There have been anti-lockdown protests in Austalia, Germany, New Zealand.  Poland and the UK  and the USA.

8. The Vatican speaks out for Responsible Tourism
The Vatican is calling on governments and economic policymakers to promote and encourage responsible tourism, particularly in rural and remote areas. Sustainable and responsible tourism, when implemented according to the principles of social and economic justice and in full respect of the environment and cultures, he says, recognises the centrality of the local host community and its right to be a protagonist in the sustainable and socially responsible development of its territory. As the world heals itself after the ravages of COVID-19,  tourism can become an instrument of proximity and fraternity among peoples. more

9. The future of cruise tourism
Cruise passengers who contracted coronavirus onboard Costa Cruises, Costa Magica, are suing the company for negligence and misconduct. A group of 207 French passengers on the cruise liner have in a class action accused the Italian company of injuries and manslaughter as well as endangering the lives of others. more  Locals in Venice are planning a party to celebrate the announcement that two cruise lines will not be stopping off in the city for the rest of 2020. Italian lines MSC Crociere and Costa Crociere both confirmed they would drop Venice from their itineraries in favour of Trieste or Genoa when cruising restarts, reports The GuardianSeychelles Tourism Minister Didier Dogley has announced that no cruise ships will sail in our out of Port Victoria until 2022, at the earliest. The move, effective immediately cuts a significant angle of tourism out of the Seychelles tourism economy, but the minister believes there are safer, better ways to recover them.  Ronny Brutus, CEO Seychelles Ports pointed out that “It is to be noted that the cruise industry has been a major catalyst by which the COVID-19 has spread throughout the world”. Ammonia is fast emerging as an alternative to fossil fuels for shipping. The potential for renewable energy to be used to produce “green” rather than “brown” ammonia that has revived interest in it as both a practical and potential low-carbon transport fuel. When burnt correctly ammonia produces power and water and nitrogen as waste. more
Since the No Sail Order was extended on April 15, and extended a second time on July 16, CDC has worked with cruise lines to help thousands of crew members return home safely. Safe disembarkation of crew has included a requirement for cruise lines to submit a signed attestation and use non-commercial transportation for their crew members. more

10. Miscellany
 A new Journal of Responsible Tourism Management (JTRM) will be launched in January 2021, aimed to disseminate knowledge on responsible tourism and hospitality based on contemporary issues in Sarawak and developing destinations locally or internationally. more
Intrepid plans by the end of 2020 to offset more carbon than it emits. However, offsetting is fraught with difficulties.  Carbon Offsetting: Too good to be true?

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