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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 02/2024

March 8, 2024
Harold Goodwin
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Sabre is now sponsoring the Global Responsible Tourism AwardsThere are six categories in 2024:    (1) Making Travel Inclusive (2) Championing Cultural Diversity (3) Nature Positive (4) What are you doing about Climate Change? (5)  Increasing local sourcing- Creating shared value (6) Employing and Upskilling Local Communities. Gold winners in each regional awards programme automatically enter the Global Awards.
The Africa Regional Responsible Tourism Awards are open; they close on March 22nd. ENTER HERE 
India sub-continent Regional Responsible Tourism Awards are open; they close June 30th. ENTER HERE
The Latin America, LATA, Awards are open, they close on 10th May  ENTER HERE 

The 2022 Responsible Tourism Charter points out that responsibility drives sustainability, lists the most significant issues that need to be addressed, and asserts the importance of transparent reporting to demonstrate what is being achieved and avoid greenwashing.
Responsible Tourism is about using tourism to make better places for people to live and better places for people to visit. How can we “do tourism better”?

Save the date RTD17 is planned for Piggs Peak Hotel in Eswatini on 17th April to explore practical strategies for benefitting local communities by applying Porter's idea of growing the cake by creating shared value. Enriching local communities and the guest experience. Full details in the next edition of RT News or contact RT News for details.

18-22 March, join  ICRT Finland to get a Nordic approach to responsible tourism and share your thoughts and experiences in workshops and discussions. Register here

International Conference on Responsible Tourism and Hospitality (ICRTH) 6-11 August 2024 Kuching, Sarawak Details


 The WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Programme in Cape Town  10-12 April   

  1. RT  Conference at WTM Africa
  2. Resilience Matters
  3. The Travel Matters Checklist 
  4. Hawaii re-opening after the fires 
  5. Greenwashing under threat 
  6. Climate Change 
  7. Holiday Lets 
  8. Aviation 
  9. Plastic Pollution 
  10. Miscellaneous

1. RT  Conference at WTM Africa Cape Town 10-12 April
There is an extensive RT programme at WTM Africa this year. The full programme is here. We begin on Wednesday by showcasing Africa's 2023 Global RT Awards winners, followed by a panel discussion about how through inclusive tourism, we can create shared value. The RT Conference takes place on Thursday with a keynote from Harold Goodwin, what have we learnt from two decades of RT? There are panels and fireside chats on Positive Impact Tourism, Sustainability & Social Cohesion, The Cape Town Experience of RT, Responsible Tourism at the V & A Waterfront, Transparent Reporting, Nature Positive Tourism, Marketing RT, and Aziz Abu Sarah of US-based Mejdi ours talking about Dual Narrative Tourism.  The conference programme concludes with the launch of the ICRT Southern Africa Network and the WTM Africa 2024 RT Awards. On Friday, there is a discussion about how we can use tourism to create meaningful connections, followed by a panel on Technology for Responsible Tourism and a debate about the Future of Certification. 

2. Resilience Matters - Procrastination is the enemy of resilience.
Abraham Lincoln led the US through the Civil preserved and strengthened the Union, and ended slavery. In 1864, in a letter to then-Secretary of War Edward Stanton, Lincoln wrote “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” The wisdom of these words is reflected in proverbs like  ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ (first recorded in 1732), ‘never put off until tomorrow what you can do today’, and ‘prevention is better than cure’. Unfortunately, in the 160 years since Lincoln wrote this, humanity has largely failed to escape short-termism, preferring procrastination and business as usual.

Jennifer Jacquet, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at the Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science at the University of Miami, published “The Play Book” in 2022. Described by geneticist and science populariser Adam Rutherford as “Very funny, as satire should be, until you realise it’s deadly serious.” It is a convincing read, a ‘how-to manual’ for procrastinators.
“Written in the form of a corporate handbook for tobacco, oil and pharmaceutical company executives, it is a litany of obfuscation techniques, denial, delays and outright lies, including: how to recruit an academic ‘expert’ who is willing to compromise their integrity (or is just short of cash), how to massage the statistics, how to use legal and even physical intimidation against reporters and activists, and how, just as in a casino, to keep your customers comfortable, unquestioning, unthinking and playing along for as long as possible.” more

From the outset, the business case for Responsible Tourism emphasised the licence to operate, local sourcing, avoiding dependency on tourism at the destination level, working to address community priorities and partnership in the supply chain and with competitors in the destination.

On a finite earth, we face increasingly difficult challenges we need to adapt and mitigate for our sector to continue to prosper; we are paying a high price for procrastination, and delay increases our costs.

We know what needs to be done. We need to do it.

3. The Travel Matters Checklist
The Travel Corporation has revised and launched its 2024 “Make Travel Matter”® Checklist "as an informative way to help clients become more responsible travellers as well as to protect and make a positive impact on the planet, its people, and wildlife." It is designed to assist"clients to become more responsible travellers for every journey." The checklist can be downloaded here.  The checklist covers [1] Planning & Packing, [2] Getting Around, [3] Sleeping & Eating and [4] Experiences that Matter.

4. Hawaii re-opening after the fires
Back in October, a phased reopening of tourism to West Maui began, more than 10,000 islanders have signed an online petition to delay the reopening of West Maui to tourists. Albert Perez, the executive director of Maui Tomorrow, an environmental protection non-profit on the island, was quoted in The Guardian. “Every time they build another hotel room, the community becomes a little more dependent on those jobs, and then when that industry takes a hit, which it regularly does, we end up with an even worse economic crisis". The Maui wildfire exacerbated the housing crisis,  "Short-term rentals and Airbnbs, many of which belong to wealthy out-of-state investors, account for 40% of Lahaina’s housing stock, according to a June report from Uher"

Conde Nast Traveller ran a piece by Crai S Bower in early February about " how travelers can help shape the future of responsible tourism in Hawaii." Bower writes about the divide between those favouring "banning tourism entirely" and those pleading "for visitors to return ASAP."  Bower reports that "many believe the reopening of West Maui presents an opportunity to focus on regenerative tourism, a socio-ecological model that “seeks to ensure travel and tourism reinvest in people, places and nature and that it supports the long-term renewal and flourishing of our social-ecological systems,” as defined by tourism policy researcher Dianne Dredge in the Journal of Tourism Futures. Leanne Pletcher, Director of Communication for Maui’s Visitors and Convention Bureau, calls for mindful travellers, supporting local businesses and volunteering. Bower concludes, " The West Maui economy depends upon tourism, yet we visitors must also realize that many residents may not be emotionally prepared for our return. The reopening of West Maui provides an opportunity for each of us who visit to travel differently, to enjoy Maui’s community and sublime natural offerings with respect and understanding, an attitude that, like the aloha spirit, we can carry with us wherever we travel next. ... The need to create more workforce housing is particularly dire in Maui county, where median home prices rose from $775,000 in 2018 to $1.2m last year. Nearly one-third of Maui’s renter households spend more than half of their income on rent – the highest statewide."

5. Greenwashing under threat?
Well, not all of it. Wood burning generates greenhouse gases, and yet it is subsidised in the UK. The Drax Power Station, near Selby in North Yorkshire, is a converted coal plant which burns wood pellets. In 2023, it produced about 5% of the UK's electricity. Drax receives subsidies from consumers because the electricity produced from burning pellets is classified as renewable and treated as emission-free. The BBC programme "Panorama has obtained documents from British Columbia's Ministry of Forests that show the company took more than 40,000 tonnes of wood from so-called "old-growth" forests in 2023." Incredibly "Drax helps the UK government meet its climate targets because, on paper at least, the power station is treated as emission-free. ... "because international carbon accounting rules state that greenhouse gas emissions from burning wood are counted in the country where the trees are felled as opposed to where they are burned."
The European Parliament has passed a new law banning greenwashing and misleading product information: (1) " the new rules aim to make product labelling clearer and more trustworthy by banning the use of general environmental claims like “environmentally friendly”, “natural”, “biodegradable”, “climate neutral” or “eco” without proof. (2) the use of sustainability labels will be regulated and (3) the directive will ban claims that a product has a neutral, reduced or positive impact on the environment because of emissions offsetting schemes.
In the UK the regulator is the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is responsible for writing the Advertising Codes.  Details of the UK government regulations on Environmental Claims can be downloaded here.

Justin Francis CEO of Responsible Travel, helpfully reviews the tightening rules about greenwashing, reminds us that greenhouse gas emissions from aviation are not being addressed and reminds us that "Greenwashing’s false promises and smoke and mirrors make that decision far harder than it needs to be and erodes consumer confidence in the travel industry as a whole." As Justin concludes, "greenwashing is not the same as sharing your success. If your holidays have a good impact on the communities and natural world around them, then you should feel confident telling potential customers about it."
We must not allow the fear of greenwashing to prevent us from telling our customers what we are doing and the difference we are making. We should welcome the regulations against greenwashing, but we must not be cowed by it. There is a market advantage in taking responsibility - we need to report our positive impacts transparently.

6. Climate Change

According to research just published in Nature, only small localized pockets of ice shelves were thinning in Antarctica between 1973 and 1989, located primarily in the Amundsen Sea Embayment and the Wilkes Land coastline. Ice-shelf thinning accelerated and spread rapidly into the 1990s and 2000s; if the trend continues, we can confidently expect a continuing acceleration of the contribution of Antarctica to sea-level rise, threatening coastal communities around the world. And there is Overtourism in Antarctica
Visual Capitalist reveals that Tianjin, Ho Chi Minh City, Chittagong, Yangon and Jakarta are the five most vulnerable cities among the 44 cities in those areas sinking faster than sea levels are rising.
The EU has published a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2040. In the UK, the net-zero economy grew by 9% in 2023, and the overall economy grew by 0.1%.
The Center for Climate Integrity (CCI) has a library of documentary evidence of oil and gas companies’ knowledge of their products’ role in causing climate
change and their subsequent deception campaign with documents. The earliest document in their Lie-brary " is a 1963 report by the Conservation Foundation summarizing the conclusions of a scientific conference held on the Implications of Rising Carbon Dioxide Content of the Atmosphere. The report, which explicitly links the burning of fossil fuels to global warming, warns of melting ice caps, inundated coasts, and the “annihilation” of “many life forms…both on land and sea” in equatorial regions.

In the UK the Good Law Project has fought in the courts to require the government to publish its climate risk tables. Despite the Tories’ repeated claims that the UK is a “world leader” in climate policy, the risk tables reveal the Government has declared its own policies rely on technology that has “never been deployed at scale”, are “not… possible at current funding levels” and beset with “inherent uncertainties and risk”.

7. Holiday Lets
The UK government has announced new controls on short-term lets in England. The new rules will apply only to new short-term lets where the property will be free for less than 90 nights a year. A mandatory national registration scheme is also be planned. Airbnb has welcomed the regulations: Amanda Cupples, the company's general manager for Northern Europe, said: "Families who host on Airbnb will benefit from clear rules that support their activity, and local authorities will get access to the information they need to assess and manage housing impacts and keep communities healthy, where necessary." more

The Telegraph reports thay there are plans to create a new planning use class for short-term lets and new associated permitted development rights, which would either allow a property to be changed from a short-term let to a residential dwelling or would allow a property to be changed to a short-term let.

8. The Market
UNWTO expects international arrivals to exceed the 2019 pre-pandemic level by 2%. Visual Capitalist has ranked the World’s Largest Consumer Markets in 2030.  [1] China, [2] India, [3] US, [7 ] Japan, [12] Germany, [14] UK, [15] France, [16] Egypt, [20] Iran.  South Africa Inbound Statistics January 2024

Over 40% of all outbound passengers in the first half of 2024 will be departing from just 10 countries, according to an analysis from travel intelligence provider Mabrian.
The European Travel Commission’s (ETC) latest Long-Haul Travel Barometer (LHTB) analyses intention to travel to Europe in seven overseas markets – Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea and the US, safety and affordability are the main concerns. more

9. Plastic Pollution
Research published in the Toxicological Sciences journal, found microplastics in all the placenta samples tested, with concentrations ranging from 6.5 to 790 micrograms per gram of tissue. PVC and nylon were the most common plastics detected, after polyethylene. Microplastics have also been found in breast milk, human blood and the faeces of babies and adults. more.
The Center for Climate Integrity (CCI) has just published a report on The Fraud of Plastic Recycling. How Big Oil and the plastics industry deceived the public for decades and caused the plastic waste crisis.

10. Miscellaneous

28 February  Overtourism in Antarctica
21 February Holiday lets – good and bad
15 February Resilience Matters 
06 February Abraham Lincoln nailed it

The URL www.rtp.education takes you directly to the RT Hub, which provides easy links to the RT Partnership.

RT News Video Channel


Other Responsible Tourism Newsletters

The Sustainabilist UAE
Responsible Cape Town
Climate Change in 7 charts

Responsible Traveller, South Africa
Encounter Africa

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