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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 03/ 2021

April 4, 2021
Harold Goodwin
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  1. One year on living with Covid- the new normal?
  2. Multilateral action is required to rebuild trust and travel
  3. The world's most sustainable destinations 
  4. WTM Africa Virtual 7, 8, 9 April
  5. Building Back Better? Regenerative Tourism?
  6. Biodiversity the world's most dangerous animal can make a difference. 
  7. Decarbonising travel & tourism: Hydrogen 
  8. Scotland adopts Responsible Tourism 
  9. Changing perceptions of ourselves and others. 
  10. Miscellany 

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  1. One Year On Living with Covid- the new normal?

XinhuaNet
As Coronavirus deaths in the UK approach 145,000, bereaved families have begun painting a vast memorial wall in an “outpouring of love” opposite the Houses of Parliament. The wall mural will stretch to nearly half a kilometre along the Embankment opposite Parliament. more

John Hopkins has now recorded close 140m cases and 2.85m deaths this pandemic is far from over. Countries will continue to move in and out of lockdown and new 'variants of concern' which may result in changes in transmissibility, clinical presentation and severity, or impact public health and social measures (PHSM). more

Source: Visual Capitalist
As Covid-19 is spread by social contact travel and tourism, domestically and internationally, is inevitably going to be subject to restrictions within countries and across borders. There are reports of an EU Vaccine Passport by  June 15th, designed to save the summer tourism season.  Everything you need to know about the proposal Digital Green Certificate.
In a trial project, SimplyGo (which enables travellers to pay using contactless), has partnered with SITA to make use of SITA Health Protect.  It looks likely that there are going to be multiple schemes. Vaccine nationalism has arisen, world leaders have called for an international pandemic treaty to build cross-border cooperation.  "The Covid-19 pandemic has been a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe." Vaccine Apartheid threatens us all.

As the Visual Capitalist's graphic of the first year of the pandemic shows it is far from over. Take a look at the original

Dutch travel company Sunweb has announced that it plans to take 187 people for an eight-day holiday in Greece, to see whether tourism is feasible, despite the rise in contagion cases in several European countries. Participants will not be allowed to leave the resort and will have to quarantine for up to 10 days when they return to the Netherlands.

In 2009, after the financial crisis, international tourism declined by 4% in 2020 numbers dropped by 73.9%.  more

2. Multilateral action is required to rebuild trust and travel
As Taleb Rifai has pointed out for travel and tourism to recover "we need is a new multilateral system, a more harmonized, fair, and equitable system, because it’s not important how successful every country is on its own. If one cannot travel from one place to another, what countries do independently is of no consequence. This is the nature of travel. It connects people and places." “We have to function as one. We cannot have one country insisting on quarantine, while its neighbours are demanding a vaccination passport, and a third country is requiring simply a 72-hour testing proof before arrival. ..... We need to rebuild a new multilateral system from the bottom up, brick by brick. We need to build a system that does not depend on the principles of the haves and the have nots." more

Zurab Pololikashvili, Taleb's successor as UNWTO Secretary-General, recognising that:  "We can only restart tourism if we restore trust in travel. People want to feel safe and looked after when they travel," has begun work on an International Code for the Protection of Tourists. The first two chapters on definitions and seven core principles have been agreed upon. The code has been drawn up by representatives of over 100 countries, the European Commission, UN agencies, IATA and a range of other travel industry associations. It is difficult to permit tourism when a virus spread by contact between people is prevalent and particularly so when new variants of concern emerge, health trumps travel for government and most tourists.

3. The world's most sustainable destinations 
Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel Research. at Euromonitor talks about their new sustainable destinations work. Euromonitor's Consumer Lifestyles survey in January 2021 found that 66% of consumers, that is a global average, want to have a positive impact on the environment through their daily actions.
Euromonitor looked at 99 countries through the lens of environmental, social and economic sustainability, country risk as well as sustainable tourism demand, transport and lodging and used 57 data indicators to determine their comparative performance.
 

Harold Goodwin discusses the research findings with Caroline.

4. WTM Africa Virtual 7, 8, 9 April
We can learn much about tourism in and from Africa – celebrating diversity and inclusiveness, growing the cake to create more value for neighbouring communities, living with and benefitting from biodiversity (some of it dangerous), and the importance of transparency. One of the few benefits of a virtual programme is that we can have speakers from around the world on the panels at WTM Africa and that they can be shared worldwide.

There are six Responsible Tourism panels at WTM Africa this year focussed on progress in RT, certification, biodiversity, how  tourism creates more value for local communities,  and  cultural diversity and storytelling

The Responsible Tourism programme at WTM Africa can be accessed here   You can register for the event here

5. Building Back Better? Regenerative Tourism?

There is much talk of regenerative tourism the latest buzzword, an alternative to build back better and to be welcomed for that. However, like so many labels that come and go, and  it remains largely aspirational. What is needed is action, people taking responsibility to make the changes essential to a healthy travel and tourism sector and healthy peoples on a healthy planet.

  • Iberostar's Wave of Change movement 2030 Agenda is aimed at eliminating waste, neutralizing carbon emissions and improving the health of the ecosystems surrounding its hotels and guest safety. With more than 300 hygiene and safety measures ensuring a safe environment, cleaning standards, innovative experience and social spaces and with the support of a medical advisory board – Iberostar was one of the first chains to offer free antigen COVID-19 tests onsite at all our properties in the Americas for guests traveling back to U.S.," hand "in case a guest tests positive, we’re extending their stays up to 14 days without cost to them."
  • Caroline Bremner has pointed to the reorientation from a focus on tourism volume to tourism value there is much talk about this.  Breckenridge is a Colorado town at the base of the Rocky Mountains’ Tenmile Range, known for its ski resort, year-round alpine activities and Gold Rush history. The Tourism Office is "is looking for ways we can target guests whose value sets align with ours … who think about the world in a similar way to us, and try to invite those people in first.” This has angered some: " You take away events in May and October and start limiting the kind of people who are allowed to visit and invest in Breckenridge, and suddenly those local employees, managers and business owners can’t afford to make ends meet and are forced to return to the real world, kicking the bottom row out of our economic house of cards and causing it to come crashing down." more With the industry on its knees in destinations around the world and employees furloughed or fired the pressure to return to business as usual will grow post-pandemic.
  • In Barcelona, Mayor Ada Colau has proposed a new rule that would allow people to rent rooms in their own home only for stays of 30 days or more as part of a package of measures designed to protect potential long-term housing from being cannibalized by tourist rentals. Since August 2020 the city has imposed a temporary ban on room rentals for less than 30 days, the plan is to make this permanent. The city’s goal is, according to its press release, is to “guarantee the social function of housing and avoid a saturation of tourist rooms that would cause problems of coexistence, impact the housing market and harm neighbourhood trade.” more

6. Biodiversity the world's most dangerous animal can make a difference. 

  • What can tourism do for biodiversity? The world's most dangerous animal can make a difference.
  • Can tourism make peace with nature?
  • Honey-collecting tribe launches indefinite protest for the right to stay in Nagarhole National Park. a tiger reserve. Survival International is backing the Jenu Kuruba people.  "The tribe, renowned for their honey-gathering skills, are camped outside the Nagarhole Forest Rangers’ office. Their lands have been turned into a tiger reserve for tourists, and many Jenu Kuruba have already been forcibly evicted by India’s Forest Department, with the backing of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
  • Covid-19 and the consequent loss of revenue has hit conservation hard. "A survey of park rangers in more than 60 countries found that about one in five had lost their jobs because of pandemic-related budget cuts, with those in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia worst affected. More than half of protected areas in Africa reported that they had had to stop or reduce field patrols and anti-poaching operations." more
  • Save the Asian Elephants (STAE) is a UK-based campaign group pushing for a ban on advertising in the country of unethical elephant tourism venues. Its campaigning hit a milestone in early 2021, with a petition on the issue surpassing a million signatures. ABTA, a membership organization for travel agents, claimed that it “proactively encourages travel companies to either not offer, or move away from, unacceptable practices and to work in partnership with suppliers to raise standards”. But ABTA’s ‘proactive’ guidelines are not enforceable. Meanwhile, the trade association has said that it lacks the power to “make legally enforceable regulation”. So STAE is calling on the UK government “to ban the advertising, promotion or sale of unethical Asian elephant-related holidays” more and more
  • How many Elephants is launching World Female Ranger Day on June 23 2021 to celebrate and support female anti-poaching rangers, spotlighting Africa in its first year.
  • Biodiversity offsetting and net gain: licence to trash nature. Friends of the Earth are clear "We think offsetting and net gain are a license to trash. We think they’re a distraction from proper action to reverse the decline of nature and natural systems we all depend on. "Things also get tricky when natural capital accounting starts to be less about protecting nature and more about turning it into a tradable commodity to be sold to the highest bidder: you can destroy this ancient forest if you pay the right price." They made the argument in 2018 but it is now working its way through the planning system in the UK

7. Decarbonising travel & tourism: Hydrogen 

  • Airbus to boost “cold” technology testing as part of its decarbonization roadmap. "Airbus has launched an “Advanced Superconducting and Cryogenic Experimental powertraiN Demonstrator” (ASCEND) to explore the impact of superconducting materials and cryogenic temperatures on the performance of an aircraft’s electrical propulsion systems.
  • Trains. Scotland to have its first hydrogen-powered train in 2021.  Following a similar strategy, Deutsche Bahn announced plans to launch its own hydrogen-powered trains in Germany by 2024.
  • Electic commuter flights are to be from Exeter Airport to Newquay Airport to develop and evaluate the requirements of a fully integrated electric aviation infrastructure. (72 miles/115km 90mins by road)

8. Scotland adopts Responsible Tourism
In November 2020 Visit Scotland, along with Wild Scotland and Sail Scotland, declared a climate emergency, the first national tourism organisation to do so. In April 2019, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a climate emergency on behalf of the Scottish Government, the first time this had happened at a national level anywhere in the world. VisitScotland has now launched #RespectProtectEnjoy Scotland and Scotland's Responsible Tourism Promise, designed for those visiting or holidaying in Scotland it aims to keep Scotland special. The focus is on what the visitor can do to avoid disturbing wildlife or damaging the environment, to respect the locals and their resources, shop local and avoid crowded places and come back when it's less busy.

The campaign has received widespread support in local news media for its £124,000 campaign. The Inverness Courier reported that the  "campaign will ask visitors to leave no trace as it looks to counteract some of the issues seen as a result of a new, homegrown audience of visitors discovering and enjoying Scotland’s countryside.

9. Changing perceptions of ourselves and others.

  • Visit Portugal has launched a marketing campaign drawing attention to the similarities between Portugal and Britain. The #CantSkipTomorrow message, delivered by a young child adopting the persona of ‘tomorrow’, is a call for discovering new ways of travelling. It is a different paradigm: a collective conscience that protects all the unique wonders of nature. Luís Araújo, president of Visit Portugal and chairman of the European Travel Commission describes the campaign:  "This conveys our responsibilities, as a tourism destination, to the Portuguese, to tourists, to companies in the sector and above all to a planet that needs to regenerate." video
  • Moroccans and Israelis have much to gain from visiting one another’s countries. Rather than simply visiting sites, responsible tourism entails engaging – at eye level – with hosts and, where possible, enhancing their lives and livelihood. Ultimately, this could also mean shining light on injustices and amplifying voices that seek to rectify them. Travel is an opportunity to learn about the other, to dispel myths, to appreciate the complexity of others’ lives, and to take a fresh look at our own. Ideally, this is an impetus for positive change. Read more of Adina Friedman's argument for travel, discovering the self and others here.
  • As Jost Krippendorf pointed out in his seminal work, The Holiday Makers, “every individual tourist builds up or destroys human values while travelling” Dennis Schaal argues in Skift that "If tourists from the United States are unofficial ambassadors to the world, then the worst among them are ensuring that local residents will resent them and more destinations will erect barriers to entry." "Of course, tourists behaving badly — UK and other football hooligans traveling to party and see matches come to mind — isn’t strictly a U.S. thing, although obnoxious American tourists are amply represented as the travel recovery gets underway."

10. Miscellany

  • Responsible Tourism and Slavery: Respect, transparency and the development of meaningful connections are core values in Responsible Tourism. We should reflect on the way we present other peoples places and take care not to distort their history and our own by omitting important parts of it.
  • Overfishing, Conservation, Sustainability, and Farmed Fish,
  • Travel should cost more. Sjannie Hulsman is a lead tour guide trainer and consultant for tourism development in remote areas at EastguidesWest, she argues that: "Escorted travel should not be cheap. Only the sun rises for free."
  • Farm to Fork: How a new project will help tourists eat their way around Jordan introducing them to local food, farmers and chefs

 

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