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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 03/2022

March 8, 2022
Harold Goodwin
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  1. War in Ukraine
  2. The Global Responsible Tourism Awards 

  3. Climate Change Net-Zero by 2050 is too late
  4. Adaptation & Decarbonisation 
  5. Responsible Aviation 
  6. Covid a new normal?
  7. WTM Africa, ATM  and Latin America 
  8. OTAs and Growing Direct Bookings
  9. Airbnb 
  10. Miscellany

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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 5-7 WTM Latin America 
April 11-13 WTM Africa, Cape Town The WTM Africa Awards 11th Africa Responsible Tourism Day 12th April 
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
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1. War in Ukraine
The invasion of Ukraine is a tragedy on a scale not seen in Europe since WWII, although there have been wars in the Balkans in the decade 1991-2001 resulting  ±130,000 deaths    Members of the UN General Assembly demanded that all parties respect the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, especially provisions on security and peace among countries. The UN General Assembly demanded that Russia stop its offensive in Ukraine, voting 141 to five with 35 abstentions. As this edition of RTNews goes to print the situation in Ukraine is horrific with large numbers of dead and injured refugees and people fleeing to safety.

We hear mostly about Putin's spurious reasons for the war, his view of the indivisibility of the Russian and Ukrainian people and the denazification of Ukraine, much less about the importance of Ukraine's agriculture to the global food supply. In July last year, the EU and Ukraine signed a strategic partnership on raw materials and batteries to foster closer integration of critical raw materials and battery value chains for mutual benefit.  This war will have major implications for travel and tourism which requires peace and relies on respect for international law and the rules-based system which emerged post-WWII.  Over the last decade, the international rules-based system has looked fragile, it is fractured now.

Airlines are avoiding flying over Russia, with airlines from Japan to Europe flying across the Pacific and over Alaska, a much longer flight. Western countries have blocked their airspace to Russian carriers. "Russia’s fleet of commercial planes relies heavily on leasing arrangements. Russian operators rent 515 aircraft from foreign leasing companies that are affected by the sanctions, out of 861 planes in service, according to aviation data specialist Cirium."  The international sanctions efforts to cease them has resulted in them being grounded in Russia. "The market value of foreign-leased aircraft currently flown by Russian airlines amounts to about $12 billion, according to an analysis by London-based aviation advisory firm, Ishka." The financial costs resulting are expected to fall on insurers for the leasing companies." The EU and U.K. have instructed insurance companies to withdraw coverage of Russian airlines and Sabre and Amadeus have removed Aeroflot from their systems.  more

Alexei Mordashov has resigned from the Tui Group supervisory board after being sanctioned by the EU, his family is reported to own 34% of TUI. Of course, TUI is not being sanctioned, Mordashov's assets are frozen. Tui Group chief executive Fritz Joussen wrote to staff reporting that Tui was in contact with service providers in Ukraine to keep staff members and their families safe and that Tui Cruises was “intensively” looking after Ukrainian crew members. “A solution is not in our hands. This is the time of the governments and the community of states. .... One thing is clear: we will be true to our values and show our position. Like hardly any other sector, tourism stands for international understanding and peaceful exchange across borders and cultures – we feel particularly committed to this.”  more

Airbnb has announced that they will offer free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. These stays will be funded by Airbnb, Inc., donors to the Airbnb.org Refugee Fund, and the generosity of Hosts through Airbnb.org. Anyone interested in opening their homes to support this effort can learn how to get involved at airbnb.org/help-ukraine.  Over the past five years, Airbnb and Airbnb.org have connected more than 54,000 refugees and asylees – including those from Syria, Venezuela and Afghanistan – to temporary housing through Airbnb.org partners. Last year, Airbnb.org announced the creation of its Refugee Fund and has galvanized more than 4,000 donors to further support its work with refugees and asylum seekers worldwide. As ECPAT UK and others have reminded us the EU predicts Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could displace as many as seven million Ukrainians internally and create four million refugees, significantly increasing the risk of trafficking and exploitation for all people escaping conflict but especially children.

Hospitality for Ukraine is a global campaign set up by hospitality marketing agency Stay the Night and content creator Kash Bhattacharya (Budget Traveller) which aims to help link Ukrainian refugees seeking accommodation with providers who are willing and able to host them.

Hundreds have apparently been booking Airbnbs in Kyiv in an effort to send monetary assistance to Ukrainians and using "the rental platform to exchange heartfelt messages of support." Airbnb has waived all guest and host fees on all bookings in Ukraine.  The Airbnb platform provides the human contact craved in these situations. Donating in this way may secure a personal response but the recipient may not be able to obtain the cash and may not be resident in Ukraine. As Simon Calder wrote on Twitter  "Warning: were I a Russian scammer, I would be setting up fake Airbnbs in Kiev and Odesa as fast as I could to cash in on those noble intentions.” more

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency created the website help.unhcr.org/ukraine for refugees and asylum seekers in Ukraine.

The founder of Earth Changers, Vicky Smith, with Kirsi Hyvaerinen from the European Ecotourism Network, has curated a list of organisations actively supporting refugees and the casualties of war in Ukraine. Vicky’s list of travel organisations helping Ukrainian refugees is unlikely to be complete, but it is long: Airbnb, Deutsche Bahn, Eurostar, Hospitality for Ukraine, Hospitality Helps, Host4Ukraine, Stay the Night, Uber, Wizz Air and Ukrainian Railways + Rail operators from Germany, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania and Czech republic are offering train travel for free for Ukraine refugees. Vicky also has a list of aid agencies and organisations working to alleviate the suffering caused by Putin. The list is here.

 


2. The Global Responsible Tourism Awards 

Every year remarkable new responsible businesses and destinations are ‘discovered’ and recognised through the Awards. Entering is an opportunity to showcase the impact you are having and what you have achieved. Being recognised will bring you a business advantage. If you know of businesses and destinations doing good work and taking responsibility, please nominate them and encourage them to apply. The Judges can only select from amongst those that apply. Free to enter, they provide an opportunity to showcase your achievements on a global stage. Entries can still be submitted for India (until 30 Jun 2022) and the Rest of the World (until 31 Aug 2022). Those winning Gold in the regional awards are entered for the Global Awards presented at WTM London in November.  Enter here 

  1. Decarbonising Travel & Tourism,
  2. Sustaining Employees and Communities through the Pandemic,
  3. Destinations Building Back Better Post-COVID,
  4. Increasing Diversity in Tourism: How inclusive is our industry?
  5. Reducing Plastic Waste in the Environment
  6. Growing the Local Economic Benefit
  7. Access for the differently-abled as travellers, employees and holidaymakers.
  8. Increasing tourism's contribution to natural heritage and biodiversity
  9. Conserving water and improving water security and supply for neighbours
  10. Contributing  to cultural heritage

3. Climate Change Net-Zero by 2050 is too late

Climate Change has arrived, and it is here to stay. We have failed to slow, let alone reverse, the accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. We are threatening the future well-being of our species. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, has just published its latest report on the consequences of climate change. It makes grim reading. No one should be surprised by its contents; there is nothing new in the report Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. The IPCC reports "the increasingly severe, interconnected and often irreversible impacts of climate change on ecosystems, biodiversity, and human systems." Greenhouse gases continue to accumulate, in January 2020, the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere was 413.30 ppm. In January this year, it reached 417.99 – not even the global economic slowdown caused by Covid has slowed the rate of growth of emissions.

By 2050 many of today’s decision-makers will be deceased or in their dotage. Carbon emissions accumulate in our atmosphere and heat our planet. Our emissions today will be contributing to global warming for decades to come. By 2050 irreparable damage will have been done. The key figure to watch is the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere and we have not yet even dented the curve.

The IPCC report identifies “irreversible impacts as natural and human systems are pushed beyond their ability to adapt.” They report with high confidence that “Climate change has caused substantial damages, and increasingly irreversible losses, in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal and open ocean marine ecosystems” and “Widespread deterioration of ecosystem structure and function, resilience and natural adaptive capacity, as well as shifts in seasonal timing have occurred due to climate change with adverse socioeconomic consequences.” We are in the critical decade action is required now.

The IPCC concludes with very high confidence: "The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.

There was some optimism at COP26 in Glasgow in November - there is more pessimism now.  For the evidence see Bloomberg 11th February 
For more on the impacts of climate change on our species see ScienceInsider


Resilience and climate change
Climate change is a clear and present danger. Greenhouse gases continue to accumulate; in January 2020, the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere was 413.30 ppm. In January of this year, it reached 417.99 – not even the global economic slowdown caused by Covid has slowed the growth of emissions. At WTM Africa on 12 April in the Responsible Tourism programme, we have sessions on climate change and resilience.


4. Adaptation & Decarbonisation
The end of February saw extensive flooding in Australia, for dairy farmers in New South Wales ad Queensland flooding the third natural disaster in three years -floods, bushfires and now floods again. more
The Centre for Disaster Philanthropy website has detail on five current climate generated humanitarian disasters.  In the US the 2022 Sea Level Rise Technical Report a collaboration between eight government agencies warning"  that "Sea level rise will create a profound shift in coastal flooding over the next 30 years by causing tide and storm surge heights to increase and reach further inland. By 2050, “moderate” (typically damaging) flooding is expected to occur, on average, more than 10 times as often as it does today, and can be intensified by local factors.... Current and future emissions matter. About 2 feet (0.6 meters) of sea level rise along the U.S. coastline is increasingly likely between 2020 and 2100 because of emissions to date. Failing to curb future emissions could cause an additional 1.5 - 5 feet (0.5 - 1.5 meters) of rise for a total of 3.5 - 7 feet (1.1 - 2.1 meters) by the end of this century."

Back in 2006, The Stern Review  concluded that  "the benefits of strong and early action far outweigh the economic costs of not acting.” The Stern Review recognised that the costs of stabilising the climate are significant but manageable; delay would be dangerous and much more costly. 15+ years later procrastination continues and no we have to reduce emissions and adapt to change. Ilan Kelman, Professor of Disasters and Health at University College London, points out that: "The IPCC’s summary entirely avoids the phrase “natural disaster”. This reflects decades of work explaining that disasters are caused by sources of vulnerability – such as unequal and inequitable access to essential services like healthcare or poorly designed or built infrastructure like power plants – rather than by the climate or other environmental influences. ... The report explains that places with “poverty, governance challenges and limited access to basic services and resources, violent conflict and high levels of climate-sensitive livelihoods” are more vulnerable to climate change impacts. IPCC report: how politics – not climate change – is responsible for disasters and conflict


5. Responsible Aviation
Aviation is working to get back to business as usual, during the pandemic crisis Lufthansa is reported in The Independent to be flying 18,000 "ghost flights" over this winter to retain their take-off and landing slots at airports. In March 2020, The Independent reported that, despite running just a tiny number of rescue flights during the coronavirus lockdown, Ryanair still appeared to be flying most of its fleet on a regular basis. The Guardian reported during the pandemic 15,000 ‘ghost flights’ took off from UK airports, the data was secured through a parliamentary question.

Routes reported on 50 new routes starting this month.   KLM and Air France have introduced Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) levy to their ticket prices, adding between €1 and €12 to the cost of a ticket, the airlines claim that this contributes to sustainability. By increasing the use of SAF, presently only about 0.1% of total fuel usage in the aviation industry. By burning more SAF the airlines hope to increase supply.more 

There has been much PR about the Toulouse Declaration, International Aviation Policy Consultant, Chris Lyle has pointed out that "no aviation NGO participated in the Summit or signed the Declaration, nor did any tourism entity - despite the sector’s heavily dependent and symbiotic relationship with air transport." It is far from a breakthrough. Chris Lyle writes "The absence of specification of any intermediate targets towards net zero 2050 (notably the UNFCCC’s recognized need to cut CO2 emissions by half from 2019 levels by 2030) makes both declarations [Toulouse & IACAC] at COP26  more wishful thinking than credible in themselves, and for Europe the Fit for 55 and RefuelEU Aviation initiatives already go much further. Signing on to such “least common denominator” declarations may be a sine qua non for displaying green credentials but lacks any real committal." More on the Platform for Change.

More optimistically a report by the International Council on Clean Transportation concludes that "Compared to fossil-fuel aircraft, LH2-powered aircraft will be heavier, with an increased maximum takeoff mass (MTOM), and less efficient, with a higher energy requirement per revenue-passenger-kilometer (MJ/RPK). They will also have a shorter range than fossil-fuel aircraft. Nevertheless, we estimate that evolutionary LH2-powered narrow-body aircraft could transport 165 passengers up to 3,400 km and LH2-powered turboprop aircraft could transport 70 passengers up to 1,400 km. Together, they could service about one-third (31 to 38%) of all passenger aviation traffic, as measured by revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs). [LH2,  the liquid state of the element hydrogen]


6. Covid a new normal?
The global death toll from Covid-19 has now reached 6 million, with 445m cases recorded by the WHO. They recorded 10.3 million new cases in the last week and still, only 56% of the world's population has been fully vaccinated an average obscuring considerable differences between countries. For detailed data by country look here.  There are efforts in many parts of the world to get travel and tourism up and running, but there are challenges in that too.  The Gambia has reopened for tourism but business is slow in a country where, in 2019, 15% of the country’s GDP (2019) was tourism-based with 200,000 jobs, directly and indirectly in the sector, the IMF estimates that 20% of businesses failed during the pandemic. The Gambia has the benefit of a significant number of loyal repeat visitors and they are beginning to return. To ensure a more resilient industry The Gambia is encouraging domestic tourism and luring African tourists from neighbouring countries, where travel restrictions are less invasive. more 
Tour operators in Australia are struggling to find staff as international tourism returns, staff are reluctant to return unless they have guaranteed income and the operators cannot offer that as business restarts. "They've got to find drivers again, they've got to retrain people and … we've got big holes to fill." more 
As tourists begin thinking about an overseas holiday, some destinations are wary about having too many back. Kyoto's Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa said back in 2020: "Kyoto is not a tourist town.... We're not going to go back to pre-corona tourism." Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, said last year. "We'll aim for quality tourism in Bali, so we won't allow backpackers to enter once the reopening plan for international travellers is officially put in place in the near future," A spokesperson explained "What was meant were visitors who disobey regulations or protocols on health, law, and immigration," The Mayor of Prague wants to reduce pub crawls, limit alcohol serving times and encourage tourists to visit other, lesser-known parts of the city. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said in September 2021 the 10€ entrance charge would make tourism in the city more sustainable. "I expect protests, lawsuits, everything … but I have a duty to make this city liveable for those who inhabit it and also for those who want to visit." In Amsterdam, the city hall has taken action against tourists who get drunk and sleep in their cars, and increased patrols in busy areas, especially on weekends. "Visitors who treat our residents and heritage with disrespect are not welcome. The message we have for them is: don't come to Amsterdam."  "We do not want to go back to what we saw before the pandemic, where massive crowds in the red-light district and the city's entertainment areas caused a nuisance to residents," More


7. WTM Africa, ATM  and Latin America
There is a full programme of RT at WTM  Latin America 5-7 April and  WTM Africa 11-13  April. In Cape Town, there are twelve sessions covering a wide range of topical issues including resilience, tackling climate change, shared value, biodiversity conservation,  progress towards sustainability over the last two decades and much more. There are  The Africa RT Awards are being presented on Monday 11th with a full programme of RT panels, interviews and presentations on 12th. The detailed programme is available here.   At ATM there is a panel on Thursday 12th May 11:45-12:30. Responsible Technology for Travel & Tourism.

WTM Latin America is dedicating one auditorium exclusively to debating responsible tourism with more than 10 sessions. Simon Mayle, director of WTM Latin America explains “We need to take responsibility for the positive and negative impacts that tourism has on destinations, and that’s because we want to have better places to live in and visit – in that order. And when we say “we” that means the entire industry, including tourists.” Gustavo Pinto, WTM Latin America’s adviser for responsible tourism and the Awards coordinator explains why Responsible Tourism matters: “For some time now, tourism has been taking many forms. Suppliers and visitors alike have come to understand that destinations are more than just fun and consumption. These places, which are coveted by many, have their residents, nature, and history, and everything must be respected and preserved” more


8. OTAs and Growing Direct Bookings
Siteminder’s annual list of the Top 12 sources of hotel bookings released in January highlights the sustained growth of direct bookings for hotels. They report that direct bookings are "now one of the top two revenue drivers in more than half (12) of global markets—up from five markets last year and two in 2019—driven by increased investments in booking engines, hotel websites, metasearch, frictionless payments, support from hotel consultants and specialist applications designed for conversion." In Australia, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Spain and the UK direct bookings are reported by Siteminder to be in second place for bookings behind Booking.com. In Mexico they are third behind Booking.com and Expedia, in Thailand third behind Bookig.com ad Agoda and in the USA third behind Expedia and Booking.com.
The pandemic has catalysed an increase in direct bookings, SiteMinder’s senior director of global demand partnerships, James Bishop said reflecting on 2020  “With international travel restrictions in place and rising cases of coronavirus around the world, many consumers were drawn to local hotel accommodations where the direct hotel website has always performed well, or through local booking channels, which, after an initial slump, saw an uptick from pent-up travel demand. more
As Sarah Habsburg points out "in 12 markets, direct bookings are now ranked as the second-top producer of booking revenue for local hotels, up from five markets last year and just two in 2019."  Where businesses sell direct and avoid commissions earnings are greater. more
Sarah ran a panel discussion on how to grow direct bookings. One of the participants emailed to say "I’ve just watched the video again, and think it's brilliant - Sarah  - you gave such good advice during the presentation - I think [we] need to retain you as a consultant to help us beat/outwit the OTA’s". Watch the panel discussion here 
Read more from Sarah on How to Drive More Direct Bookings to Your Hotel  and "Bookings from Agoda via Booking.com? A guide to understanding why and tips for taking back control."


9. Airbnb

Airbnb now provides in its Help Centre for Airbnb hosts advice on "Responsible hosting for Airbnb Experiences". "Each article has information about situational and location-based rules, including laws, regulations, taxation, best practices, and other considerations that apply to hosts of places to stay on Airbnb" across Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and North & South America. more There is detailed advice for Airbnb hosts by nation and region, the UK has  18 regions for which there is detailed Airbnb advice from the southeast to Inverness.
The Scottish government estimates that there are 32,000 properties in Scotland registered with Airbnb alone. The Scottish government has introduced legislation to impose new safety regulations. The purpose of the legislation is to ensure a better balance between the concerns of communities about housing supply and visitor impact and the economic and tourism benefits. Councils will have powers to ensure that planning permission will always be required for the change of use of whole properties to short-term lets and to impose taxes on Airbnb income.  more
Six months after announcing its commitment to offer free, temporary housing to 20,000 Afghan refugees, Airbnb.org has met that goal. Thanks to the generosity of Airbnb Hosts who stepped up to share their home for free or at a discounted rate, Airbnb.org was able to provide housing to nearly 1,300 additional Afghan newcomers, in addition to the 20,000 stays fully funded by Airbnb.org and Airbnb. Through Airbnb.org, the Airbnb community will continue to be a crucial resource for newly arriving Afghans as well as other newcomers, with the goal of providing housing to another 20,000 refugees. more 


10. Miscellany

  • Cuba guarantees safe, hygienic and responsible tourism
  • New research from G Adventures suggests that travellers are more likely to book holidays that champion local communities in 2022 after the Covid-19 pandemic fostered an increased focus on community and supporting small businesses. They found that a third of UK respondents (33%) said they would place more focus on travelling responsibly in the new year. 68% of UK respondents said the most important factor when they travel is knowing that their money will benefit local people.
  • The Coca-Cola Foundation provides funding for sustainable waste management In Panna, Madhya Pradesh
  • The Travel Corporation’s Scottish based brands include Haggis Adventures, Highland Explorer Tours and The Skye Inn, in addition to group touring brands such as Contiki, Trafalgar and Insight Vacations and Red Carnation Hotel group, which is opening the 5-star 100 Princes Street in Edinburgh later this year. The Travel Corporation has recently developed an internal carbon calculator that will help with Scope 3 estimates and be integral to setting the group’s carbon reduction targets. more

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