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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 01/ 2022

January 13, 2022
Harold Goodwin
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  1. Climate Change and Covid in 2022 - who bears the cost?
  2. Aviation - carbon emissions curve undented but increasing interest in hydrogen
  3. Zero Carbon Hotels 
  4. Responsible Tourism Conference and Summer School Finland June 2022
  5. Maya Beach in Thailand is open again for tourism 
  6. RT Developments in the Scottish Islands
  7. Increasing demand for mountain rescue in the Lake District.
  8. Cruise - protest & partnership
  9.  Virtual Volunteering through people & places
  10. Miscellany


The 2022 WTM Global  Responsible Tourism Awards are open for entries,  destinations and businesses can enter, and you can nominate others on the WTM global hub.  

2022 RT Events
April 11-13 WTM Africa, Cape Town The WTM Africa Awards and panel discussions 
June 5-12  Responsible Tourism  Summer School, Finland  Jyväskylä, Central Finland & Helsinki
The 15th International Conference on Responsible Tourism takes place June 9-10   Advancing Responsible Tourism


1.  Climate Change and Covid in 2022 - who bears the cost?
As I write this introduction to RT News, Nadim Zahawi the UK's former vaccines minister has told the BBC that the country was on the road "from pandemic to endemic" and that cutting the isolation period for those with Covid from 7 to 5 days would help with staff absence.  This morning too, Gordon Rayner, an Associate Editor at the Daily Telegraph, a Tory party supporting paper, wrote "Legitimate questions are now being asked about why Britain was so dismissive of the evidence from South Africa, and whether Government scientific advisers are once again using fear as a method of control."  Rayner points out that Angelique Coetzee, chairman of the South African Medical Association was the first doctor to raise the alarm over a possible new variant. She "reported that omicron caused “very, very mild” symptoms compared with delta, and hypothesised that it “could potentially be of great help to us” by replacing the more dangerous delta variant and helping the population to reach herd immunity at minimal cost to life. She says she was “astonished” at the panicked response to it in the UK.  More: why we must listen to South African scientists on omicron.Rayner asked: "Does Dr Coetzee think xenophobia has played a role in Britain’s dismissal of her advice? He reports her reply: “No – but I think there was arrogance from the politicians in the UK. Also, Boris Johnson was going through a bad time because of the criticism of his Christmas parties, so maybe there was a political reason for all this."  I heard  from a small inbound operator in South Africa: "The arrogance of the UK Government/Boris Johnson (to divert attention from his misdemeanours?) and punish SA by putting us on a Red List at the commencement of the Christmas holiday period (that had repercussions all over the world) has cost our company alone at least R2.2m [141,,000USD¦£104,000¦€124,000] in turnover and completely stalled our recovery." Throughout the pandemic, countries have pursued narrow national interests at the expense of the common good.

Both Covid and Climate Change require a global response, despite the World Health Organization  frequently and consistently reminding us that  “No one is safe from Covid-19 until everyone is safe.” Nation-states have been slow to ensure that the developing world gets the vaccines that it needs, our failure to act on the evidence that the virus will mutate and return unless vaccines are globally available is another example of the tragedy of the commons. Similarly, national governments have so far failed to provide the funds to enable all countries to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. There is more here: What does Covid teach us about Climate Change?  "Covid and climate change require a global response – neither can be effectively dealt with only at the nation-state level. Covid and climate change are global-commons issues, the jury is still out on whether we can rise to the challenge."

2. Aviation - carbon emissions curve undented but increasing interest in hydrogen
In the UK omicron is now dominant, it is more infectious but less life-threatening. Restrictions for international travel have now been eased, with the UK government dropping the need for pre-departure Coronavirus PCR tests for double-vaccinated passengers arriving in England and demand is bouncing back at least in the UK. 
Hopefully, omicron will remain dominant, although until a much, much larger proportion of the global population has been vaccinated there remains the risk that a dangerous mutation will replace omicron. Covid has understandably distracted attention from climate change and the outcome of COP26. The issue of ghost or fantom flights is being raised, flights flown simply to keep their slots.
Greenhouse gases are still accumulating in our atmosphere as a group of climate scientists have asked after three decades of climate mitigation, “Why Haven’t We Bent the Global Emissions Curve?”  In a paper published in Environment Research Letters, Klower et al modelled the CO2 and non-CO2 effects like nitrogen oxide emissions and contrail formation to analyse aviation's total warming footprint. They conclude that aviation contributed approximately 4% to observed human-induced global warming to date, and is "projected to cause a total of about 0.1 °C of warming by 2050, half of it to date and the other half over the next three decades, should aviation's pre-COVID growth resume. The industry would then contribute a 6%–17% share to the remaining 0.3 °C–0.8 °C to not exceed 1.5 °C–2 °C of global warming. "

As the graph shows we have gone on polluting our atmosphere and warming our planet. Short and medium-range flights generate two-thirds of current aircraft emissions. There are some grounds for optimism:

  • Denmark and Sweden have announced a goal to make domestic flights fossil fuel-free by 2030, and Sweden is planning to introduce increased airport fees for high-polluting planes. France is moving to ban domestic flights where the same journey could be made by train in under two-and-a-half hours. more
  • easyJet is working for two years with Rolls-Royce to develop knowledge on electrical and hydrogen-based power systems. David Morgan, director of flight operations for easyJet argues that  "Disruptive technologies such as electric and hydrogen propulsion show great potential for short-haul airlines." more

3. Zero Carbon Hotels 

Greenview, working in partnership with 20 hotels and the  Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA),and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). "“The methodology is not only for those in the hotel sector wishing to set a net zero pathway, but also aims to provide additional insights for the wider climate change and net zero community so that the specific challenges and opportunities faced by hotels can be better understood. Furthermore, as hotel stays are included in Scope 3 Business Travel for companies in all sectors wishing to achieve net-zero, this methodology aims to provide a consistent approach to net-zero for hotels which will support these ambitions.” The methodology is freely available and can be downloaded here. 

The Building Construction and Design magazine reported the arrival of the world's first net-zero carbon hotel, room 2 Chiswick,  "built with pioneering technologies to achieve net-zero throughout both the design and construction stages, as well as throughout its whole life, including both embodied and operation emissions, which the company claims is an industry first."  "The hotel will use onsite renewables to convert 100% of its energy needs for heating, cooling, and hot water. A proprietary intelligent building and reporting system will improve performance across the sum of incremental gains. Two “lab rooms” will provide data on energy, water use, and air quality, along with studying and learning from guest behaviors." more

There is more detail on the room2 Chiswick website:  "100% of our loose bespoke furniture is manufactured within 10 miles, using only natural, recycled, or reclaimed materials and FSC certified wood. 4,462 trees were planted to offset the carbon of all the furniture in the hometel. ... Under the 'Green' roof, is a 'Blue' roof. It catches and retains up to 50,000L of rainwater, slowly releasing it to the drainage system to reduce the chances of local flooding."  The hometel is littered with many more Arts and Crafts design elements.

4. Responsible Tourism Conference and Summer School Finland June 2022
We start in Jyväskylä, Central Finland, where we highlight issues in rural surroundings and responsibility, especially in the Lakeland region. We discuss overtourism and cruising issues in the Responsible Tourism in Destinations Conference, which is the second part of the summer school programme. The Summer School programme ends in Helsinki (awarded European Capital of Smart Tourism 2019) and focus on urban tourism and responsibility. We visit the Fortress of Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here you will have a unique chance to do fieldwork based on the pre-assignment. We also visit Helsinki’s new Central Library Oodi, which is a living meeting place for both local people and tourists. Oodi was chosen as the best new public library in the world in 2019. The Conference can be booked separately. more

5. Maya Beach in Thailand is open again for tourism 
In 2018 Maya Beach, 15 m wide and 250 m long, was closed by the Thai government after it fell victim to overtourism and consequent damage to littering, anchor damage to coral, trampled flora and disturbed fauna. Yuthasak Supasorn, the governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told Reuters, "The sharks have come back, coral reefs are regrowing, and the water is clear again." Only 375 visitors will be allowed to visit at a time and swimming remains prohibited and boat docking is restricted to a designated area at the back of the bay.  more

6. RT Developments in the Scottish Islands
Isle20 is a certified social enterprise supporting businesses in the Scottish islands, in 18 months they have grown to list 575 businesses on 32 islands, with a business directory and an e-commerce platform. They have announced that they are planning to launch isleHoliday.  An alternative booking platform to Airbnb. Commission will run the platform but the surplus will go into the Isle Develop fund. "That fund will be focussed on supporting small businesses and community and housing projects in the Scottish islands. We want to make sure that the islands remain a great place to live and work as well as a great place to visit. Their standard commission is 12%, and 10% for island residents.  More reported in The Scotsman.

7. Increased demand for mountain rescue in the Lake District.
Richard Warren, chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association reported that volunteers were called out 680 times in 2021 with an "absolutely chaotic" Christmas week during which there were 11 rescues. Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team put in 45 hours during the Christmas week. Lake District mountain rescue teams were called out 680 times in 2021, a consequence of increased domestic tourism with people venturing into mountains with no experience and inadequate preparation: Warren pointed out that "A lot of rescues are avoidable because people get lost with no map, compass or torch" In the UK Mountain Rescue is provided by unpaid volunteers and supported by donations, it costs £750,000 a year to equip and maintain the teams in Cumbria alone. more

8. Cruise - protest & partnership
In November 2020 voters in Key West passed three referendums limiting cruise ship visitors to 1,500 per day, banning ships with 1,300 passengers or more from disembarking passengers and prioritising cruise lines with the best environmental and health records."Less than eight months later, with financial backing from the cruise line industry and at the urging of Key West business owners whose tourist-heavy economy relies on visitors, those referendums were overturned by state lawmakers." There have been no cruise ships for 20 months because of the pandemic. On 9 December 200 protesters from ‘Safer Cleaner Ships,’ greeted Norwegian Dawn, others welcomed the ship to port. more
Ambassador Crusie Line has partnered with the marine conservation charity ORCA, deploying their commercial weight to assist the charity and launching an anti-whaling campaign - " the new partnership will also see Ocean Conservationists joining Ambassador’s ship, Ambience, in 2022 and 2023 to deliver unforgettable wildlife experiences to guests onboard. more

9. Virtual Volunteering through people & places 
people & places was recognised in the Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM in November as One to Watch. When the pandemic struck, people & places was no longer able to send volunteers to support the projects they have partnered with, providing skills transfer. Following a period of experimentation using Zoom and other platforms, people & places developed with their established partners an e-volunteering programme providing professional skills transfer, English language support, technical skills in gardening, science experiments and IT training. In their review of the year published in December, Dianne Ashman, reports on what their virtual volunteers have achieved despite the pandemic.

10. Miscellany

  • Angus Hervey edits the Future Crunch newsletter, a regular roundup of good news, mind-blowing science and the best bits of the internet. On New Year’s Eve, he published 99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About in 2021
  • Savaari Car Rentals in India has been encouraging hotels to provide electric charging points to encourage the adoption of EVs for leisure travel and for market advantage.
  • The Hotels Network (THN), a direct channel growth platform for hotels, has announced its charity holiday campaign: 30 seconds. 100 dollars. You choose. We give back.
  • In Utah,  Park City’s Destination Stewardship Plan, is developing strategies to balance economic well-being, environment, quality of life and visitor experience. The first strategic goal is "prioritizing quality visitation rather than the number of visitors."  Distributing tourism to lessen environmental impacts and spread economic benefits, and enabling community visitor readiness, including educating and involving residents. more
  • In the Himalayas “Sustainable Tourism” will be meaningless unless the mountains are sustained as an ecosystem. Restitution and not restoration should be the slogan. more
  • Monaco has adopted a White Paper on Responsible Tourism, the next step is a responsible tourism strategy, which will continue to be aligned with the UN SDGs and the Principality’s energy transition targets.  more
  • Kerala is to launch a PPP project STREET, Sustainable, Tangible, Responsible, Experiential, Ethnic, Tourism hubs to help rural destinations develop their basic infrastructure. more
  • The Greek Tourism Ministry is setting the groundwork for a new tourism model that will establish the country as a leading responsible destination.
  • Goa, is beginning to develop a master plan to transform Goa into an innovative and responsible tourism destination while preserving the state’s culture, heritage and natural assets.


The next edition of RT News will be out at the beginning of February 
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