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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 06/ 2021

July 7, 2021
Harold Goodwin
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  1. WTM Launches a "Platform for Change"
  2. Climate Change: time to adapt?
  3. Building back better 
  4. Decarbonising Aviation 
  5. New Responsible Tourism School Launched 
  6. The Regional Awards in the Global Responsible Tourism Awards
  7. Covid-19 is not going away
  8. Sustainable Hospitality Alliance 
  9. World Heritage in Danger 
  10. Miscellany

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1.WTM Launches a "Platform for Change"

Booking.com’s latest global research suggests that we have reached a “potential watershed moment for industry and consumers”.  Their research shows that travellers and holidaymakers want to travel sustainably and look for businesses and destinations that take responsibility for providing them with those opportunities. 48% say they find it harder to make sustainable choices while on vacation than in their everyday life. We need to make it easier for them, for commercial and sustainability reasons. more

John Swarbrooke has written on the WTM Responsible Tourism blog about why sustainable tourism failed  The Responsible Tourism movement has since 2002 sought to encourage businesses and destinations to do tourism better and the  Responsible Tourism Awards (open for entries this year until August 31st) have since 2004 been recognising those who have developed tried and tested ways of making tourism more sustainable.  The Platform for Change has been launched to provoke discussion about the issues which need to be addressed and the solutions which been tried and tested. Since 2004 Responsible Tourism Awards have been presented at WTM London each year and now also at WTM Africa and WTM LAT. Over the last couple of decades, many solutions have been developed and tested. In this decade, there needs to be more replication in order to tackle the challenge of sustainability. The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us of the importance of resilience. If you have solutions you wish to contribute please contact us.

One of the biggest challenges confronting our sector is aviation, it is for this reason that it is our first platform. Aviation emissions, both domestic (40%) and international (60%), are the Achilles’ heel of the tourism industry. Tour operators, tourism authorities, and destinations need to demand that air transport providers remove carbon and other climate-harming emissions, not just to claim green credentials but to assure the industry’s future. Aviation is responsible for about 2.4% of the world’s CO2 emissions and 3.5% of human-induced climate change when other greenhouse gases and contrails are accounted for. In March 2020, the respected German consultancy Roland Berger forecast that if other industries decarbonise in line with current projections, aviation could account for up to 24% of global emissions by 2050 unless there is a significant technological shift. Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) are only a stopgap and carbon offsetting is beset with theoretical and practical difficulties, both designed to enable business as usual. The Platform presents the case for hydrogen and Airbus's initiative to decarbonise aviation.

Ubuntu matters in travel & tourism – WTM’s new Platform for Change will enable us to share solutions

Large companies are now taking leadership on the sustainability agenda - see for example this conversation  with Shannon Guihan, Chief TreadRight & Sustainability Officer, at The Travel Corporation, USA

2. Climate Change: time to adapt?
Three decades of climate mitigation and we haven't bent the global emissions curve. Forget the theory and the forecasts we continue to pump greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, the evidence is clear. We are making our Earth more inhospitable for us - and many other species. We shall not destroy the planet, we are just making it more difficult for us to live here. Take a look at the graph.  Many scientists and activists understandably argue that we should not be focused on adaptation, that we must stay focused on mitigation, reducing the severity, seriousness of climate change. Others argue, and young people in particular, that it is time to adapt to climate change. Clover Hogan in a 12 minute TEDxLondonWomen speaks powerfully about how young people are falling into despair while adults make sense of their situation through denial -someone else will fix it.  It is now time to face up to the question: Is it time to adapt to climate change?
The US Drought Monitor map released on July 1st reveals how extensive the issue is.  “Already, scientists have discovered that across Pakistan and throughout the Persian Gulf, regions have reached combinations of temperature and humidity that are literally beyond the human threshold of survivability. The term for this measure is “wet-bulb temperature… ”  Raymond, Matthews & Horton revealed in May 2020 in Science Advances the health and morbidity consequences of extreme humid heat and that occurrences have ”  more than doubled in frequency since 1979.” As temperatures reached  49.6C (121.3F) in Lytton, British Columbia, with a “Heat Dome” over the Pacific northwest President Biden has understood that the heatwave is tied to climate change and has announced a plan to update the country’s infrastructure network. more

On climate change, President Biden is clear about urgency. He has pointed out that  “… scientists tell us that this is the decisive decade – this is the decade we must make decisions that will avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis… the world beyond 1.5 degrees means more frequent and intense fires, floods, droughts, heatwaves and hurricanes – tearing through communities, ripping away lives and livelihoods, increasingly dire impacts to our public health…. We can’t resign ourselves to that future.  We have to take action, all of us.” Now we’ve seen the wildfires and other consequences for human health, other species and the environment in the Pacific northwest. It is no longer an academic debate about the science of climate change – the change is upon us and we need to adapt to it. The agenda for action is no longer only about mitigation, we have procrastinated for so long that we have now to mitigate and adapt. more

Meanwhile, the United Nations has announced that it has recognized a new record-high temperature of 18.3°C or 64.9°F set on the Antarctic continent last year,  set at Argentina's Esperanza base on February 06, 2020. more Warming is a global issue. George Monbiot has clinically, and with substantial evidence, laid bare the chasm between  the rhetoric and extravagant PR commitments, "higher targets appear to be a substitute for action." Having targets and policy objectives is not enough - we need to implement them. On 30 June Channel4 News in the UK reported "ExxonMobil’s lobbying war on climate change legislation"

3. Building back better

As our sector begins to emerge from the pandemic and learns to live with Covid a range of different responses is emerging, and of course, many places remain locked down.

In Amsterdam, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst, regulations have been used to prevent tourist souvenir shops from displacing those which serve residents, to prevent residential accommodation from being converted to holiday lets and to restrict the building of new hotels. more
  Barcelona has developed a free app for mobiles to receive real-time information about visitor numbers at Barcelona’s landmarks and cultural attractions. The best way to visit the city and avoid the queues and crowds! And they are promoting local shops, eco-friendly transport [sustainable mobility], and blue & green Barcelona/

Airbnb has been fined 8 million euros over unregistered Paris rentals for allowing over 1,000 listings to flout rules to register their rentals. more Florence has banned evening walks in the most popular nightlife areas for those who have been eating or drinking in the area and there have been calls street food stalls to be taxed. The ban will remain in place until the end of the pandemic. more   In the Hawaii Archipelago, Maui County Council has imposed a moratorium on building permits for new visitor accommodations in South and West Maui.

The Scottish Government and Road Safety Scotland have launched a campaign reminding UK drivers to plan ahead before embarking on their staycation in Scotland this summer.  In Scotland, the Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group (STERG) is spending £5.8m  on improving infrastructure and creating jobs at a number of Scotland’s popular visitor destinations and nature hotspots, at least partly in response to the issues which have arisen during the pandemic from very large numbers of domestic tourists in areas ill-equipped to receive them.  more In Perthshire a civilian force of seven 'visitor rangers' now patrol Perthshire preventing the pressure of tourism spoiling the county's increasingly popular countryside, to promote responsible tourism and help prevent ‘dirty camping’.
The North Coast 500 billed as Scotland's answer to Route 66, the scenic 516-mile (830km) circuit was developed as a way of increasing visitor numbers to lesser-trodden corners of the Highlands and helping boost the economies of remote communities. Launched in 2015 the NC500 is estimated to be worth more than £22 million annually to the Scottish economy. Now it is too successful, ditches have been dug around Applecross in Wester Ross to stop motorhomes parking in environmentally sensitive places, the route is dividing the community. more
In Wales, Denbighshire is encouraging visitors to plan, prepare and pre-book to ensure a positive experience, coastal safety tips, and outdoor safety messages to ensure people have the right skills, knowledge and gear before venturing out. In Northern Ireland the Economy Minister has launched a new visitor pledge to encourage safe and responsible tourism. Visitors are asked to show their support by signing up to the pledge and committing to the three core guidelines: Take Care of Each Other, Take Care of the Land, and Take Care of Local Businesses. Director of Marketing at Tourism Northern Ireland Naomi Waite added: "The launch of the visitor pledge will help to boost consumer confidence by setting out simple steps that we can all take together to make a difference. Whether it is social distancing, cleaning up litter after enjoying the outdoors or shopping local, I encourage all residents to take the pledge to support local businesses and our local environment.

4. Decarbonising Aviation
The Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist David Suzuki has spoken out about the importance of reducing aviation emissions. "Phantom Credits": In May Greenpeace UK's journalism project Unearthed published an analysis of carbon offsetting projects used by major airlines using satellite analysis of tree cover loss conducted by McKenzie Intelligence Services suggesting that the schemes lack verification and questioning their carbon offsetting impact. There is more on doubts about carbon offsetting as a viable mitigation strategy here. Bristol Airport has announced that it will be the first net-zero UK airport with three key commitments to be a net-zero airfield, with net-zero buildings and operate a net-zero fleet of vehicles. [cf. Climate scientists: concept of net-zero is a dangerous trap]

Shell and Rolls-Royce had agreed to work together to  "expand and accelerate several existing areas of cooperation between the companies such as advancing the use of SAF. This includes Rolls-Royce’s new SAFinity service, for which Shell is the exclusive SAF supplier, and working together on demonstrating the use of 100% SAF as a full “drop-in” solution."  Shell’s Energy and Chemicals Park in Rhineland near Cologne has Europe’s largest Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) water electrolyser today began operations at, producing green hydrogen. The electrolyser was manufactured by ITM Power in Sheffield, UK, and includes parts made in Italy, Sweden, Spain and Germany. The European consortium backing the project consists of SINTEF (co-ordinator), Shell, ITM Power, Sphera and Element Energy. more

Alternatives to flying continue to be developed. A French start-up founded by Adrien Aumont and Romain Payet, the duo behind French crowdfunding website KissKissBankBank, has revealed plans for a new network of overnight services from Paris to 12 European destinations, including Edinburgh and Porto. Midnight Trains hopes to reinvent the overnight train experience completely by launching a "hotel on rails" that offers a greener alternative to flying as well as a more comfortable alternative to the basic night train services long associated with Europe. more The New York Post ran a feature on Responsible Travel's around the world tour, without flying.

HYDROGEN-POWERED AVIATION: PREPARING FOR TAKE-OFF  In Brussels a Technical Workshop “Hydrogen-powered aviation Research and Innovation” has developed a technical roadmap focused on demonstrating fuel cell-based propulsion for regional aircraft architectures, and hydrogen direct burn based propulsion for short-medium-range aircraft architectures. "The first phase (2022-mid 2025) would consist of maturing technology enablers (e.g. MW-scale fuel cells system, H2 storage) and design hydrogen propulsion and aircraft configurations. Following a maturity assessment and concept selection at halfway through  the programme (mid-2025), the second phase (mid 2025-2030) would consist of maturing technology enablers, and adapting, integrating and demonstrating in order to achieve ‘frozen’ hydrogen propulsion and aircraft configurations by end 2029." more

5 New Responsible Tourism School Launched
The School for Responsible Tourism is a hub where tourism business owners, destination managers and industry thought leaders can access up-to-date resources and training. Established by Sarah Habsburg, a graduate of the Responsible Tourism Masters, t
he School for Responsible Tourism will become a space filled with valuable, inspiring, and motivational online tourism courses that will support you in your quest to make a difference. By detecting where and how you can make change you begin to enhance your offer, generate increased customer satisfaction, and improve sales through authentic marketing. The Advisory Panel includes Harold Goodwin and John Swarbrooke.

6 The Regional Awards in the Global Responsible Tourism Awards
!Khwa ttu, the "embassy" of the San of southern Africa were recognised in the RT Awards, in the video they explain what it meant to them

2021 brings the launch of Global Awards for each category, selected from the Gold winners in each of the regions. There will be Gold and Silver awards in each of the four regions, and the judges’ may also identify “ones to watch”. The judges can only choose from amongst those that apply. You can nominate others or your own business, destination, or organisation on the awards page which also has details of the categories here. Closing date 31 August

Two winners of the Responsible Tourism Awards explain here why they entered and how it benefitted them. 

Those businesses, destinations and organisations which win Gold in the four regional awards in Africa, India, Latin America, and the Rest of the World will automatically be entered into the Global Awards. There will be regional panels of judges and the global judging will be done by a panel drawn from the regional panels. All the panels will be chaired by Harold Goodwin, WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, to ensure that the same processes are followed rigorously in all panels.

There are regional awards pages for  India, and Latin America Portuguese & Spanish.

Everyone enters via the WTM's global hub where you will find an entry guide, and buttons to nominate businesses and destinations which you think should enter and a button to enter. 

7. Covid-19 is not going away
Uneven vaccination rates are creating a new economic divide. The World Bank's Ayhan Kose describes a “tale of two recoveries”.  "In the world’s poorest 29 economies (including 23 countries in sub-Saharan Africa), only 0.3% of the population has received even one dose of vaccine. This group’s growth prospects have deteriorated. Their combined gdp is set to grow by 2.9% this year (not 3.4% as forecast six months ago). That would be their second-worst performance in the past two decades. Their worst was last year." more
In America,  only around 30% of Mississippians and Alabamans are fully protected.

As the Economist points out "Delta, first spotted in India, is two to three times more infectious than the virus that came out of Wuhan. Cases spread so fast that hospitals can rapidly run out of beds and medical staff (and sometimes oxygen), even in places where 30% of people have had jabs. Today’s variants are spreading even among the vaccinated. No mutation has yet put a dent in the vaccines’ ability to prevent almost all severe disease and death. But the next one might."  Looking at the legacy The Economist quotes the work of Nicholas Christakis of Yale University. He "identifies three shifts: the collective threat prompts a growth in state power; the overturning of everyday life leads to a search for meaning; and the closeness of death which brings caution while the disease rages, spurs audacity when it has passed." "Very roughly, rich-country governments paid out 90 cents for every dollar of lost output." Coivd accelerated changes which we already underway before the pandemic; the digital revolution, the impact of climate change and the rise of China.   more

In the EU a vaccine passport system is up and running to enable people to travel. The Economist has created a normalcy index*, to June 24th 2021, pre-pandemic level=100. The index "now sits at 66, implying that only half of the disruption caused by covid-19 has been reversed.  "America is at 73, the EU 71, Australia 70 and Britain 62. Elsewhere, the range is wider. Both Hong Kong and New Zealand, the leaders at 96 and 88, enjoy nearly full normalcy." more  Post the G7 summit in Cornwall, seven-day case rates have risen rapidly for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, increasing from 4.9 per 100,000 people on 3 June to 130.6 per 100,000. Outbreaks among students, as well as the impact of people travelling to and from Cornwall during half term, are believed to have significantly contributed to the rise. more

The UNWTO reports that international tourist arrivals were down 83% in the first quarter of 2021 UNWTO has estimated GDP losses by country due to a pandemic-related reduction in tourism, those countries most dependent on international tourism are hardest hit. Turkey down 9.1%, Ecuador 9%, South Africa 8.1%, Ireland 5.9%, Switzerland 4.3%, South Korea 3.8%, Australia/New Zealand 3.7%, France and  UK 3.2%. more

8. Sustainable Hospitality Alliance
The SHA has published a water stewardship factsheet and identified the steps necessary for hotels to become good water stewards.  And a new training resource to support disadvantaged young people to build a better future. The resource is freely available to qualified organisations to tackle the global issue of youth unemployment and help more young people who face additional barriers to employment to start their career journeys.

9. World Heritage in Danger
The main purpose of UNESCO's World Heritage listing system is to ensure that sites on the list are respected and protected by national jurisdictions. Sites are placed on the World Heritage in Danger list  - there are presently 53 properties on the list including the Historic Centre of Vienna, the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, the Chan Chan Archaeological Zone,  Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City, the Selous Game Reserve and Everglades National Park. Seven new sites may be added to the list including Venice, Budapest. Ohrid, and Stonehenge. more  The Great Barrier Reef is also threatened with being listed as in danger.

Lakshadweep is not a World Heritage Site but there is concern about tourism development in the Lakshadweep archipelago of 36 islands in the Arabian sea. The draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021. It provides for the development of townships as well as acquisition, alteration and transfer of landed properties owned by Lakshadweep residents. more

10. Miscellany

    1. Holly Tuppen has published a consumer article in inews :  How to plan a holiday that benefits everyone involved – including the planet
    2. A herd of 13 elephants born and raised in a Kent zoo are about to get on a plane to travel almost 4,500 miles to Kenya in order to reintroduce them to the wild in a first-of-its -kind operation.
    3. ResponsibleTravel's new trade collection features a thousand holidays spanning across more than 80 countries, giving agents access to a unique collection of global holidays, all screened for their commitment to responsible tourism.
    4. Manchester's Jewish Museum has just reopened following a £6 million redevelopment project. Katy Marks, director of Citizens Design Bureau, believes the reimagined museum“serves as an architectural expression of the idea that we have more in common than that which divides us and we’re excited to finally share the building with everyone”.
    5. TravelTomorrow is just one year old and now has around one million subscribers
    6.  Adrienne Harris has asked practitioners to write to her about how development agencies could improve their tourism practice
    7. World Female Ranger Day 
    8. Ideas.TED.Com has produced a catalogue of 12 climate change documentaries and series that will give you an up-close look — and some solutions
    9. The European Travel Commission has published a Sustainable Tourism Implementation: Framework and Toolkit


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