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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 05/2023

May 29, 2023
Harold Goodwin
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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.

2023 Responsible Tourism Awards are open for India & sub-continent until 30 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. Entering the Global Responsible Tourism Awards 2023 can help build your brand reputation
    with increased PR and press opportunities. It also offers the chance to connect with industry leaders from around the world. Don’t miss out. Request a form to apply – it’s quick, easy and free.  more

  1. SHA launches Net Positive Hospitality
  2. India: Developing Tourism in Mission Mode 
  3. Greenwashing is being called out 
  4. Decarbonisation 
  5. The challenge of overtourism is spreading and deepening 
  6. Short-term Lets 
  7. The Covid Legacy 
  8. Tourism Taxes spread further
  9. Nature-based Tourism 
  10. Miscellany

  1. SHA launches Net Positive Hospitality
    The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance has launched its five-year strategy at the Alliance’s Summit in Berlin which includes developing a set of standard sustainability metrics across the industry, its Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality. With a growing network of member hotels and resorts, the Alliance, founded over 30 years ago, now represents over 50,000 properties and 7 million rooms globally with increasing influence and leadership in the sector. The aim is to capture critical learnings and potential for scaling and replication, which will systematically disseminate to the broader industry. By fostering collaboration, creating partnerships, and working together towards shared goals, the Alliance has built a strong network of donor members, partners, and stakeholders committed to sustainability in the hospitality industry. By 2028 the Alliance aims to:
    1. Have all mainstream private and public leaders convinced of economic opportunity in Net Positive
    2. Equip business teams/talent to embed Net Positive into strategy
    3. Pioneer nature and people-positive solutions that are competitive with incumbent alternatives; innovations securing investment
    4. Launch Policymaker engagement; prompting meaningful reform
    5. Advance partner collaboration to advance Net Positive in destinations

  2. India: Developing Tourism in Mission Mode

    Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has understood the potential of tourism to create employment and committed the government of India to “Developing Tourism in Mission Mode” with a budget focused on the holistic development of destinations. The promotion of tourism will be taken up in mission mode, with the active participation of states, securing the convergence of government programmes and public-private partnerships.
    The government has identified 21 ministries and departments of the central government which have schemes, programs and functions relevant to tourism ranging from External and Home Affairs through revenue, environment, rural development, education and culture to health and family welfare and water resources.
    Convergence, getting all of the ministries, departments and agencies at national, state and local levels is essential to managing tourism sustainably. Only if all take responsibility and work together can tourism be used successfully for sustainable local economic development and positively impact the “lives of people at grass root level” and  “look at the impact of tourism on livelihood, social and economic empowerment of people working at the bottom of the pyramid.”
    India chairs the G20 this year, putting tourism on the agenda for meetings and the summit.
    Hopefully, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s “destination-centric” strategy for “Developing Tourism in Mission Mode” by ensuring the convergence of government programmes and public-private partnerships will encourage other governments to follow India’s lead.  more
    India is also taking a lead on food security in the face of climate change. " The climate-resilient easy-to-grow crop has a low input cost and takes almost half the time of wheat to mature. Millets improve on-farm biodiversity, have a low carbon footprint, and only need 350-400mm of annual rain." more

  3. Greenwashing is being called out
    The travel and tourism sector can reasonably claim paternity for the concept of greenwashing. Initially, the concept was coined by New York environmentalist Jay Westerveld, in a 1986 essay, to describe the hotel industry’s practice of placing notices in bedrooms promoting the reuse of towels to “save the environment”. As Westerveld pointed out, hotels made little or no effort to reduce water or energy consumption but encouraging the reuse of towels and linen saved them money. The regulators may now be about to catch up. They are talking about regulation, but doubtless, the greenwashers will press to water down the regulations. There are regulatory changes coming in the EU and the UK. more
    Regulators are rarely, very rarely, able to regulate quickly enough to assert and protect the public interest and there is always the risk of regulatory capture.
    The Guardian carried a major review of greenwashing and planned regulatory action and Blomberg carried six ads banned by the Advertising Standards Authority

  4. Decarbonisation
    Researchers say there's now a 66% chance we will pass the 1.5C global warming threshold between now and 2027. "This report does not mean that we will permanently exceed the 1.5C level specified in the Paris Agreement which refers to long-term warming over many years," said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas "However, WMO is sounding the alarm that we will breach the 1.5C level on a temporary basis with increasing frequency," he said. more
    Climate change has produced record temperatures in Spain in April, hitting 38.8ºC. "This heat event in Spain is absolutely extreme, unprecedented with temperatures never seen before in April. In some locations records are being beaten by a 5C margin, which is something that has happened only a handful of times at weather stations around the world," said Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist who runs an Extreme Temperatures twitter account, more
    Months ago John Oliver on HBO's Last Week Tonight  explained graphically why carbon offsetting confirms  the old adage “If it is too good to be true it probably isn't.” It would be funnier were it not so tragic. Oliver has the clip of the Scott Kirby CEO of United Airlines saying that carbon offsetting can't be the answer. If you know anyone who still supports carbon offsetting send them the link to watch John Oliver.
    Om May 23rd France banned flights between airports where the journey can be made by train in under 2.5hrs.
    H2FLY  has for 10 years been researching, testing, and refining, resulting in the development of the HY4 and has demonstrated the applicability of hydrogen-electric propulsion solutions in aviation. In 2022, HY4 completed a cross-country flight, from Stuttgart, Germany to Friedrichshafen, covering around 124 km thus marking the first-time hydrogen-powered passenger plane has flown between two commercial airports, H2FLY has successfully passed liquid hydrogen (LH2) on-ground filling tests. If HY4 launches as scheduled this summer, it will be the first human-crewed passenger aeroplane flight powered by liquid hydrogen in history. more


  5. The challenge of overtourism is spreading and deepening
    In Skift last month there was an attempt to ditch the phrase overtourism arguing that it is "time to move on for more nuanced solutions." As I argued on TravelTomorrow, "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."  Malcolm Bell, the outgoing Visit Cornwall chief executive, argued back in November 2022,  that Cornwall should aim to attract "the right people at the right time of year”, saying that visitors “fall into five unofficial categories: “At one level you have friends, then you have guests, then you have tourists, then you have bloody tourists, then you have f***ing emmets." more
    In 2015 overtourism emerged as a major issue in the municipal elections in Barcelona, the city subsequently addressed the challenges. But the issue is back in the current elections.  Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau told Reuters, "We like tourism, to have visitors, but tourist overcrowding triggers problems of mobility, speculation and gentrification that put our local way of life at risk. Therefore, we have to regulate it," Jorge Marichal, chairman of the Spanish hotels business association CEHAT, is reported to have said "The problems we are seeing in Barcelona will appear in every Spanish province soon," more
    70 years after the first ascent of Everest, the impact of mass mountaineering must be confronted.
    Lanzarote President Dolores Corujo has said "The island has far exceeded its tourist capacity. It does not put Lanzarote’s image at risk, but it does highlight that people are confusing development with growth and overflow in certain areas.... we cannot continue by not facing reality. Lanzarote needs to take measures to redirect its tourism model. For this, it’s essential to have a rigorous and realistic diagnosis.” more
    Amsterdam is discouraging some visitors. " Brits who search for terms like ‘stag party Amsterdam’, ‘cheap hotel Amsterdam’, or ‘pub crawl Amsterdam’ are met with a video advert, warning them about the consequences of drinking too much, taking drugs, and causing trouble with their antisocial behaviour." "The city wants to impose limits on bar crawl, stag do and hen party sizes, reduce its number of river cruises and ban smoking cannabis on the streets of the city centre. Amsterdam also wants to move its red light district to a new ‘erotic centre’ outside of the inner-city area." more
    In Leuven local government has experimented with a range of approaches to reduce party noise." The most effective measure proved to be a light projection on St. Michael's Church. The projection lit the ground and simply asked passers-by to respect the sleeping residents and leave the party behind. This resulted in a 30% reduction in the affected area while it was operational, three weeks in the summer and October and November 2022.
    Dominic Stanish, in the "Good Tourism", Blog argues that the city officials in Venice are overreacting. more  In South Tyrol, there are discussions about placing a " limit on overnight stays ... not only to hotels, but also to room rentals and private individuals."

  6.  Short-term Lets are more profitable than longer-term rentals
    offers owners of buy-to- lets - the opportunity to earn 56% with average occupancy rates of 83.1% and now having managed 370,000+ bookings. "Our tried-and-tested flexible lettings strategy combined with a smart pricing algorithm maintains high occupancy while achieving the best nightly rate possible. ... Optimising the letting cycle allows our hosts to earn more money than traditional long-term letting or doing it themselves. You can sit back knowing our team is able to fill void periods, legislation is being followed, and that your account manager is taking advantage of higher rates (up to 300% more) for your holiday lets during the peak seasons."
    Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar, Member of the European Parliament argues that Short-term Rental (STR) has assumed, throughout Europe ..  a very relevant role in the reconstruction and recovery of the historic centres of cities, contributing substantially to their hotel capacity. In short, it was an important driving force for towns and the tourism sector. more


  7. The Covid Legacy
    is a disease forecasting company. It tracks, predicts and simulates population-level disease outcomes in real-time to inform decisions that can increase the global life span. Airfinity’s new risk modelling, that is being presented at the Rhodes Summit in London Friday the 14th, indicates there’s a 27.5% chance that a pandemic as deadly as COVID-9 could take place in the next ten years. "In recent times, we have seen an increase in the frequency of virus emergence. Climate change, the rise in international travel, a growing global population and the increasing threat posed by zoonotic diseases are some of the main factors contributing to the increase in high risk outbreak incidences."
    Airfinity’s CEO and co-founder Rasmus Bech Hansen says, “A robust pandemic preparedness system is the world’s insurance against a COVID-19 like pandemic or something even worse. We have calculated the real risks, but also the potential risk reduction that can be achieved. This can help inform decision-makers to the level of ongoing pre-emptive investment in the space to keep people safe.”
    The UNWTO commissioned survey research to explore the differing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and working conditions between men and women in the tourism sector in  Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Jordan and Mexico. This report reveals in detail the disproportionate impact that the pandemic had on women in the sector.

  8. Tourism Taxes spread further
    Wales is planning to give local authorities powers to impose a tourism tax, Manchester has announced plans for overnight guests in city-centre hotels to be charged an extra £1 per night, per room. In an article in Telegraph Justin Francis is quoted on the case for tourist tax: "... tourists are essentially temporary residents who make use of public services such as water, waste management, and public health and safety without paying for them..“Tourists also enjoy nature and landscapes, street life and culture, architecture and other things supported by local communities, often without making a direct contribution to their conservation. In short, there is a hidden cost to tourism that must be met." Tom Jenkins, executive director of the European Tourism Association (ETOA), argues that they can be counter-productive, asserting that "tourism taxes are generally a misnomer, as they do not tend to take money from tourists but from those local companies who invest in supplying the service which is being taxed. “They have the added side effect of discouraging overnight visitors (who in general pay more), and encouraging day visitors (who pay less)."

  9. Nature-based Tourism
    WWF are calling for a global Plastics Treaty that puts people and nature first, protects our planet, and secures our future. New research commissioned by WWF and conducted by Eunomia has identified the most high-risk plastic products polluting the environment and proposes global control measures to eliminate, reduce, or safely manage and circulate these plastics. WWF is advocating for these measures to be included in the first draft of the treaty text, set to be published in the lead-up to the next round of talks in December 2023. more  The BBC has very graphic photos of plastic pollution on Skye 
    The Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) has launched the first science-based targets for nature, aiming to set the global standard for ambitious and measurable corporate action on nature. An initial group of seventeen global companies are preparing to submit targets for validation, including AB InBev, Alpro (part of Danone), Bel, Carrefour, Corbion, GSK, H&M Group, Hindustan Zinc Limited, Holcim Group, Kering, L’OCCITANE Group, LVMH, Nestlé, Neste Corporation, Suntory Holdings Limited, Tesco and UPM. These new science-based targets for nature provide guidance for companies to holistically assess and prioritize their environmental impacts, and to prepare to set targets, beginning with freshwater and land, alongside climate through the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).
    Reindeer herding is affected by increased tourism in the Swedish mountains - and there are also issues affecting reindeer in Canada, Finland, Norway and Alaska more

     10. Miscellany
    Responsible Travel organised a one-day school trip to Passu Glacier and Borith Lake with Beyond The Valley, for Grade 3 students from Government Primary and Community Middle School Khanabad, Hunza. Their Trip for a Trip scheme is funded by 1% of sales. 4,000 children have now enjoyed a  travel experience.
    Charulata Sukhija, Deputy Secretary General, Hotel Association of India, has written about "The importance of responsible tourism post-Covid in Hospitality World
    Ghent has launched a tourist itinerary for hearing and visually-impaired visitors. The campaign includes special booklets which contain tactile pictures of seven attractions in the historic centre of Ghent, along with an audio description that people can listen to via their cell phones. There is also a version with sign language.
    Women-friendly tourism project of RT Mission has curated over 40 women’s group trips to various scenic locales in Kerala.
    The Offbeat and Local Madhya Pradesh Itinerary: Safe tourism destinations for women, tribal tourism, solar energy, and more.
    First 100% electric hotel with emission-free energy opens in Mallorca. The Iberostar Cristina hotel, located in Playa de Palma (Mallorca), is the Group's fourth hotel to operate with CO2 emission-free energy after fully electrifying all its hotels in Montenegro in 2022.
    Souvenir Network to make available Kerala’s unique artefacts to tourists, resulting from a Responsible Tourism Mission initiative to help generate jobs and income for local craftspeople.
    Storytelling is a powerful tool for promoting responsible tourism, as it influences people's emotions, perceptions, and behaviours. To effectively leverage the power of storytelling in promoting responsible tourism, Indian cities need to choose stories that reflect the unique cultural and historical heritage of their place in all its rich diversity.


24 May Are regulators catching up on greenwashing?
17 May India is developing tourism in mission mode
10 May Why Tulah is a good example of regenerative tourism at scale
2 May What’s new about regenerative tourism?
25 April Whitewashing Overtourism

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