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Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism December 2020

December 21, 2020
Harold Goodwin
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The next edition will be out mid-January
The Responsible Tourism Hub provides quick links to curated material on Responsible Tourism 

  1. RT Interviews and Panels from WTM, London are all now available
  2. States are adopting Responsible Tourism in India 
  3. Tourism devastated in the developing world
  4. Aviation and Climate Change
  5. Building Back Better? 
  6. Experiential & Domestic Tourism 
  7. Conserving Resources Requires Behavioural Change 
  8. Overtourism
  9. If covid is the new normal... 
  10. Miscellany 


    1. RT Interviews and Panels from WTM, London are all now available
      Close to  4,000 people watched the Responsible Tourism interviews and panels at WTM, London in November. All of the recordings are now freely available on the Responsible Tourism YouTube channel in the WTM 2020 Playlist: How can we make tourism better?  Based on the discussions at WTM London and Responsible Tourism trends in the last year or so the January RT News will feature a draft RT Manifesto to be discussed and honed throughout 2021. It is time to take stock again of what we have learnt about how to make tourism better.
    2. States are adopting Responsible Tourism in India
      It remains to be seen whether the experience of Covid-19 will change our attitude to government regulation. Many have pointed out that you can isolate yourself from Covid-19 and that there will be a vaccine. But, you cannot self isolate from the impact of climate change and there will be no vaccine. Covid-19 and climate change are major challenges, threats, that require a collective response which only government can determine and implement. The freeloaders who leave it to others and refuse to make the sacrifices necessary to meet the challenges, need to be coerced through regulation and policing to do so.

      India is now leading in the development of Responsible Tourism, not least because of the way in which a new national tourism policy and strategy is nearing implementation. It will support and promote Responsible Tourism across the nation, building on the work of the individual states in empowering local government through the panchayats to work with communities and businesses at the local level to make tourism better for communities, businesses and tourists. The introduction of Responsible Tourism in Kerala in 2008, the learning from the initial experiments which has enabled the Responsible Tourism Mission to roll out the approach across the state and achieve impact at scale, has encouraged replication. India’s success with implementing Responsible Tourism and demonstrating the efficiency and efficacy of the approach has demonstrated the important role of national, state and local government in making tourism better for all stakeholders.

    3. Tourism devastated in the developing world
      The International Monetary Fund has pointed out the obvious "Tourism-dependent countries will likely feel the negative impacts of the crisis for much longer than other economies. Contact-intensive services key to the tourism and travel sectors are disproportionately affected by the pandemic and will continue to struggle until people feel safe to travel en masse again." It is obvious, but the focus in the wealthier countries, the source markets, has been on the impacts at home and in their outbound industry. The IMF points out that: "The global pandemic, the first of its scale in a new era of interconnectedness, has put 100 million jobs at risk, many in micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises that employ a high share of women, who represent 54% of the tourism workforce, according to the UNWTO."  The October World Economic Outlook projected the global economy would contract by 4.4% in 2020. The shock in tourism-dependent economies will be far worse. Real GDP among African countries dependent on tourism will shrink by 12%. Among tourism-dependent Caribbean nations, the decline will also reach 12%. Pacific island nations such as Fiji could see real GDP shrink by a staggering 21% in 2020. more
      As part of the Telegraph's Unlock Long Haul campaign, the paper has been drawing attention to the impacts in the developing world: 'African communities are on their knees because this government doesn't care about travel'; Without tourists, Myanmar has travelled back in time – and its people face devastation; Africa in crisis as the loss of tourism threatens widespread poverty and extinctions; 'I lost my tourism business in March – now I'm catching fish to survive' 'I'd say 90% of the Galapagos economy has disappeared. People are selling whatever they can in the street – food, bread, pastries' more
      The Latin America Travel Company are encouraging would-be holidaymakers to continue travelling now, where current rules and restrictions allow. Tourists to the Galapagos Islands have dropped 75% in 2020,  in November of this year the island saw less than 1,500 visitors. As John Stanley, Founder and Director of The Latin America Travel Company points out " now is likely the one and only time to be able to visit some of the world’s most popular destinations and feel like you have the place entirely to yourself" and it is also bringing much-needed revenue to countries who rely heavily on income from tourism.
    4. Aviation and Climate Change
      The aviation industry sees itself as a special case, satisfied with the steps it is taking to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Action Tracker concludes that the CORSIA scheme ICAO has set up to achieve carbon reductions "will probably cover less than half of the international aviation emissions between now and 2035, and is likely to allow compensation without real emission reductions elsewhere. We rate the international aviation sector’s carbon-neutral growth goal as ‘critically insufficient’."
      Hydrogen-powered aviation is the most likely way forward as the climate crisis worsens. ZeroAvia, a leading innovator in decarbonising commercial aviation, has secured £12.3m ($16.3m) in UK Government funding to deliver a breakthrough 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft that is market-ready by 2023. To achieve this, it will collaborate with two partners, the European Marine Energy Centre and Aeristech. The HyFlyer II project will conclude with another world's first hydrogen-electric flight by ZeroAvia in a 19-seat aircraft, with a 350-mile flight.
      Meanwhile, The Guardian reports a US congressional report has concluded that Boeing officials “inappropriately coached” test pilots during recertification efforts after two fatal 737 MAX crashes killed 346 people. The Senate commerce committee chairman, Roger Wicker, said the report included “significant examples of lapses in aviation safety oversight and failed leadership in the FAA”. Boeing faces a continuing criminal probe into the MAX. The committee said its review was “constrained due to the continued criminal investigation”.
    5. Build Back Better?
      There was an enlightening discussion about to Build Back Better post-Covid-19 at WTM, London.
      There is a great deal of rethinking about both the marketing and management of destinations with greater emphasis on tourism in rural and open-air areas, rather than cities. In November Scotland became the first national tourism organisation to join Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency. The declaration is part of VistScotland's ambition to play a leading role in the development of Scotland as a globally recognised responsible destination and promote geographical and seasonal spread. Back in September VisitScotland's Insight Department published Navigating the New Normal-Post COVID-19 Tourism Consumer Trends.   VFR has become a more significant determinant of travel plans, summer travel was about finding fresh air and space and this travel motivation may continue into the winter. They expect to see "a shift towards tourism flowing to less crowded destinations ... The result will focus a shift from footfall and number of visitors towards prioritising spend per visitor, which provides an opportunity for the tourism sector to focus on improving the quality of experience versus the quantity of tourists."
      Cities are beginning to think about attracting digital nomads. Buenos Aires is positioning itself as a post-pandemic destination for digital nomads.  Fernando Straface, Secretary-General and Secretary for International Relations, City of Buenos Aires argues that "the future competition of cities is going to be around quality of life,” Buenos Aires is working to become a ’15-minute city’ where everything is accessible within the local neighbourhood.
      Palau, in Micronesia, now requires visitors to sign an environmental pledge upon arrival, committing to act in an ‘ecologically and culturally responsible way’. Like many Small Island Developing States Palau is heavily dependent on tourists who arrive by air and eat mostly imported food.
    6. Experiential & Domestic Tourism
      There is ongoing fear of travel amongst hosts and potential guests. As this edition goes to print, there are international and domestic travel bans across most of the UK.  Research by YouGov across 25 countries, and almost 17,000 people, shows that two thirds (67%) of British people say that the current regulations are preventing them from travelling. This compares to 58% who say that health concerns are doing the same. There are more detailed results from the survey here.
      Germany has launched Feel Good and Barrier Free travel experiences.  Cape Town is encouraging locals to explore the city after months indoors. The City of Cape Town, together with Cape Town Tourism (CTT), has launched the Pocket-Friendly Challenge aimed at making tourism more affordable and boosting the visitor economy. The Pocket-Friendly Challenge features a series of two-minute episodes where various travellers explore Cape Town’s neighbourhoods with a set budget of R150 (10USD)  per person; episodes will be released weekly.
      The UAE Vice-President, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, earlier this month launched the first federal domestic tourism campaign: "World’s Coolest Winter". The campaign will run for 45 day encouraging residents to explore the hidden gems of the seven emirates, landmarks and attractions that distinguish every emirate and contribute to the UAE as a single destination.
    7. Conserving Resources Requires Behavioural Change
      "My Green Butler" focuses on persuasive communication (technology and interpersonal) to encourage management, staff and guests to adapt their behaviour and conserve." Launched by ICRT-Australia and piloted amongst other places at Disneyland Paris, substantial savings in resource use have been achieved. Guest energy use has been reduced at different properties by 12-33%, housekeeping energy use by 18%, 4% on public space overnight heating and increased guest satisfaction. More
      Chris Warren, the driving force behind My Green Butler,  points out that: " The search appears to be for quantity, collecting ever-growing digital warehouses of data, rather than interpreting it, identifying connections, and understanding what action to take. Maybe we should push the pause button. .....  "Data is for decision making it should be used to enable responsible action promptly, it should be able to ‘speak’ to all involved in a persuasive, it can accelerate change in your firm if it is real-time advice.... Technological solutions should focus on our social practices rather than on the resources alone." more
    8. Overtourism
      Venice is planning to introduce a fee for anyone entering Venice without an overnight reservation from January 1, 2022. "In light of the current situation around the Covid-19 pandemic, we have decided to make an important gesture regarding the optics of wanting to encourage the tourists' return," announced Michele Zuin, the councillor responsible for the economy." "The "contributo di accesso," or access fee, will be priced according to how busy the city is in a bid to dissuade people from entering on peak days, thereby spreading them out throughout the season." more
      Venezi Autentica offers "everything you need to enjoy the best of Venice and support the local community."
      Jordi Rabassa, councillor for Ciutat Vella in Barcelona explains the new plan for La Rambla "‘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’. "The aim is to lure back locals, not just tourists, using culture. The highlight of this cultural revolution is the grand Teatre Principal, which opened in 1603 but has been closed since 2006. Led by local businessman José María Trenor, a consortium has raised €35m to refurbish the theatre into a multi-function performance space hosting hi-tech immersive experiences and concerts as well as other events. The regional government also plans to convert Foneria de Canons, an 18th-century gun foundry, into a cultural centre." more
      Courmayeur, in the Italian Alps, has a new sustainability strategy. Skyway intends to undertake concrete action in the form of green-certified supplies, reducing waste volume, eco-energy sources and emissions, water and eventually, a green consortium.
    9. If covid is the new normal....
      On December 15th the UK government launched a new Test to Release scheme so that passengers arriving in England have the option to shorten their self-isolation by up to half on receipt of a negative COVID-19 test. The scheme was "embroiled in chaos on its first day of operation after the last-minute publication of 11 private providers, most of whom appeared unable to offer the service on Tuesday morning." Airports which have had testing in place for weeks or months were left off the list of approved providers. The introduction of the scheme was described as chaotic.
      ABTA reports that UK travellers are 20 per cent more likely to use a travel professional now than before the pandemic, with two in five citing the security of a package holiday (41 per cent) and the travel professional’s up-to-date advice (40 per cent) as the main reasons. ABTA is launching a Travel with Confidence campaign.
    10. Miscellany
      Birgit Trauer's The Way of the Peaceful Traveller - Dare to Care and Connect Birgit describes the book as an invitation for the open-minded human beings who believe that this beautiful world should do better and that we all can contribute to this. "Venture into the world of emotions and feelings, of needs and values, and connect more intimately with their significance in your life. Illuminate and examine the ideas of culture and stereotypes, and discover the beauty of diversity, within you and around you." more
      Douglas Trent is President of the Focus Conservation Fund and Research Director, Instituto Sustentar de Responsabilidade Socioambiental  in Brazil. With 40 years of experience of developing community ecotourism, he has just published How to Develop Community Ecotourism published in Portuguese and English a copy can be downloaded hereThe One Planet Network 2019 Annual Magazine has just been published. It contains several tourism case studies
      ⊕ ICRT Austalia My Green Butler: encouraging 'conserving' behaviours - see (7) above
      Costa Cruises: circular economy principles applied to waste management, plastics, water and energy use  and efficiency
      Iberostar: moving from plastic elimination to apply circular economic principles and a Wave of Change approach
      UNEP's transforming tourism initiative through sustainable procurement
      Travel Green Europe App 
      One Plant Network: Sustainable Tourism Policy Talks, Smart Destinations Network, transforming tourism value chains in developing countries and SIDS
      Global Sustainable Tourism Council
      Global Tourism Plastics Initiative: 'concerted commitments'
      Grupo GEA Peru: training and technical assistance leading to a sustainable tourism label "Inca Alliance"
      Comment: There are other initiatives in Sustainable Consumption & Production. Across all sectors the focus is still on talks and studies, there is almost no evidence of impact. 


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