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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 04/2023

April 29, 2023
Harold Goodwin
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2023 Responsible Tourism Awards are open for India.
Responsible Tourism programmes  and ATM

  • The 2022 Responsible Tourism Charter points out that responsibility drives sustainability, lists the major issues which need to be addressed, and asserts the importance of transparent reporting is essential to demonstrating what is being achieved and avoiding greenwashing.
  • India: open until 30th June Enter here The ICRT India Awards are being promoted with the support of Fairfest Media ( TTF and OTM) and will be presented at BLTM - Business + Leisure Travel and MICE at the Leela Ambience Convention Hotel, Delhi 29-30 September. The Gold winners in each category will automatically be entered into the Global Responsible Tourism Awards. more

  1. Responsible Tourism at ATM in Dubai


  2. The 2023 Responsible Tourism Awards
  3. Booking.com research shows continuing demand for sustainable tourism
  4. Whitewashing Overtourism
  5. Greenwashing threatened 
  6. Tourism taxes are spreading 
  7. Regenerative Tourism 
  8. Sustainable Hospitality Alliance
  9. Responsible Tourism in  India 
  10. Miscellany

  1. Responsible Tourism at ATM in DubaiThere are four Responsible Tourism sessions at ATM this year. On Monday, May 1st the theme is Responsible Hospitality. There is a conversation with Glenn Mandziuk the CEO of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance
    at 13:00 about Net Positive Hospitality, creating a prosperous and responsible hospitality industry that gives back more than it takes.  This is followed by a panel discussion on Responsible Hospitality for a Better World at 13:45.On Tuesday 2nd the theme is Technology for Responsible Tourism. At 14:15 there is a conversation with Faizal Kottikollon, Chairman Kef Holdings & Faizal and Shabana Foundation, about Tulah and how technology can be harnessed for regeneration, there is a taster below in 8. This is followed at 14:50 by a panel discussion about Green Technology for Responsible Tourism with Keith Bradley, Managing Partner, Globally;
    Sari Abi Haidar, MEA Area Director for Engineering & Technical Services, Radisson Hotel Group;
    Iftikhar Hamdani, Area General Manager, Bahi Ajman Hotel and Coral Beach Resort, Sharjah; Srdan Susic. Chief Destination Sustainability Officer, Soudah Development, and Bernadette Willemin, Director General, at Tourism Seychelles
    There is much coverage of sustainability in the ATM Yearbook, pick up a copy if you are at the show or read a copy online.

  2. The 2023 Responsible Tourism Awards

    The ICRT Foundation India Awards are still open for entries until June 30th. The Africa Awards were presented at WTM Africa last month and the winners can be found here. There were 15 finalists, the  WTM Latin America Awards have also been presented and can be found here.  The Gold winners from Africa, India and Latin America will be entered into the Global Awards and the results will be announced in London in November. As
    These annual awards highlight and promote the very best practices in sustainability and responsibility in the tourism industry. The aim is to promote good practice and showcase pioneering projects that focus on the wellbeing and sustainability of tourism, while also caring for the people and landscapes that make the industry thrive. Megan Oberholzer RX Africa Portfolio Director Travel, Tourism & Marketing said: “Congratulations to all the winners of the WTM Responsible Tourism Africa Awards. Your passion, commitment, and innovative approach towards tackling sustainability is truly inspiring. WTM is thrilled to recognise and celebrate your efforts towards creating a positive impact on the environment, local communities, and the tourism industry as a whole.  more

  3. Booking.com research shows continuing demand for sustainable tourism
    The latest Booking.com research is summed by their CEO Glenn Fogel: "While travel may be back, rising living costs and climate anxiety has led to greater demand for more budget and planet-friendly options." 49% think the environment will get worse in the next six months, 64% believe the cost of living crisis will also get worse. More than three-quarters (76%) of travellers say they want to travel more sustainably, but the rising cost of living is impacting their spending plans. People are squeezed between their aspiration to travel more sustainably and the cost
    Nearly half (49%) want discounts and economic incentives in order to opt for eco-friendly options (up 12% from 2022), while 42% would be encouraged to travel more sustainably with reward points for making more sustainable choices that they could use for free extra perks or discounts through online travel booking sites. Download the research here. 

  4. Whitewashing Overtourism
    TimeOut recently reported on eleven “travel destinations that want tourists to stay away.” They reported: “Mass tourism is back, but these spots are fighting against the rising tide.” Last month's RT News reported many examples too.
    The concept of overtourism has been with us since at least 2008 when it appeared in an integrated coastal zone management paper about Vietnam. Rafat Ali, who claims that Skift coined the concept, wrote on Skift earlier this month that “The phrase “Overtourism” did its job since we coined it in 2016. Now it’s time to move on for more nuanced solutions.” Ali that its purpose was alarmist and “inducing fear wasn’t a side effect, it was the intent…” Ali is right. The concept “is reductive  and doesn’t bring out the nuanced solutions that are required.” He refers to O’Regan’s argument that it demonizes tourists, whereas the focus should be on managing tourism to make it sustainable. Before Skift had even mentioned the concept, Barcelona was studiously avoiding demonizing tourists. There are now a host of different tried and tested ways of managing tourism to avoid overtourism, just as there are a host of tried and tested ways of treating different kinds of cancer.  Overtourism exists, it is a problem that needs to be addressed destination by destination. We cannot expect to remove overtourism by ceasing to use the word. We need to apply the tried and tested solutions and manage tourism better. more
    African safaris so overcrowded that animals are being run over
    In Hawaii, on Maui locals are stewarding locals-only days and in Italy, the Mayor of Portofino is reported to have introduced a no-loitering rule in two 'red zones' with €275 fines for loitering in selfie hotspots in an attempt to put an end to "anarchic chaos".

  5. Greenwashing threatened
    Monique Goyens, director of the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) said recently that “Authorities should regularly control green claims, publicly disclose their findings, and be able to fine companies who mislead consumers.” The Guardian reported that an "EU survey in 2020 found that 53% of environmental product claims were “vague, misleading or unfounded”. Authorities suspected 42% of green product gambits of being “false or deceptive” in another survey the same year."  "Companies will have 10 days to justify green claims about their products or face “effective, proportionate and dissuasive” penalties, under a draft EU crackdown on greenwashing seen by the Guardian.

  6. Tourism taxes are spreading
  • Back in January euronews.travel published a list of places where travellers could expect to pay to enter in 2023, it is a very long list.
  • In Manchester, a City Visitor Charge will mean people face an extra £1 per room, per night. The money will be used to help to run large events, conferences, festivals, marketing campaigns and for street cleanliness. The tourism tax is expected to raise £3m a year to "enhance" visitors' experience.
  • The Scottish Tourism Alliance has published a local visitor levy manifesto  presenting the industry's views
  • In Indonesia, tourism and Creative Economy Minister, Sandiaga Uno, spoke to the press about the possibility of a tourism tax in Bali which was “currently being studied”.
  • Following a public consultation in Wales, the Welsh government is proceeding with legislative proposals to enable local authorities to raise a visitor levy in their areas.
    "The consumer research found that most Welsh residents surveyed agreed that tourists should contribute towards the costs of maintaining and investing in the destinations they stay in, with support stronger among Welsh residents surveyed who live in areas with lots of tourism.
    The research also showed that when introduced to the concept of a ‘visitor levy’ in a place where they go on holiday or in their area, respondents to the survey were more positive than negative – 45% were positive, and 25% were negative." Welsh Government written statement.
    'That is why we will be introducing a visitor levy in Wales. We want to bring about a sense of shared responsibility between residents and visitors, to protect, and invest in, our local areas'Rebecca Evans MS and Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru

7. Regenerative Tourism

Responsible Tourism is a broad movement. Since the Cape Town Declaration in 2002 it has been about  "making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit." Responsibility drives sustainability. Tourism has long contributed to regeneration, most frequently in the restoration and reuse of built heritage. In the 2022 Charter, there are two characteristics of Responsible Tourism which drive regeneration

  • Makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world's diversity, lived cultures and cultural monuments;
  • Generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities by providing better employment conditions, developing shared value with local businesses to create more and better livelihoods and addressing the economic needs of the economically poor and marginalised;

The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance uses different language, Net Positive Hospitality, is also about regeneration.

"The Regeneration Project is an International event for Bachelor students in the fields of Hospitality, Conservation & Architecture. Each team creates a regenerative hospitality concept and design accommodations according to the highest sustainability standards." more
The graphic presents the approach being taken at Tulah, in Kerala, a regeneration initiative which has also raised the water table.

8. Sustainable Hospitality Alliance

Around half the hotel beds in the world are now part of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance.

  • Their Vision: A prosperous and responsible hospitality sector that gives back to the destination more than it takes, through a pathway to Net Positive Hospitality. "By working together as an industry, we have the collective power to ensure that our destinations and communities are protected and regenerated now and for future generations. "  more
  • At ITB SHA launched its Net Positive Pathway V2.0 for people, planet, place, and prosperity harnessing the power of the four pillars of people, planet, place, and prosperity combined with the industry’s transformative power, innovation, and resources. more
  • Sightsavers and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance join forces to support disability inclusion in the hospitality sector. more
  • Partnering with Sage Inclusion "to promote inclusivity and diversity for guests and employees within the hospitality industry.” more
  • The SHA sponsored the first Gender Equality Champion of the Year Award for the hospitality and tourism sector, presented at ITB Berlin to Travel Excellence, a Costa Rican travel operator. more

9. Responsible Tourism in  India

  • Women-friendly tourism project of RT Mission has curated over 40 women’s group trips to various scenic locales in the State  The Hindu
  • RT Mission Kerala targets 25,000 ethnic cuisine units in the next five years.  By encouraging ethnic cuisine units across the state, the Kerala Responsible Tourism Mission aims to achieve two key objectives - break the stranglehold of alien food concepts in the society as well as provide way-side facilitation to tourists travelling to the State. Hospitality World
  • Sajna Ali's wanderlust made her launch a company to cater to solo women travellers

10. Miscellany


25 April Whitewashing Overtourism
17 April Up-Cycling at a Trade Show
28 March Pie in the sky fantasies legitimate inaction, we need to stop burning fossil fuels. Now.
21 March Net Zero by 2050 is dangerous, really dangerous
14 March Kerala leads the way in sustainability certification

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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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