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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 08/ 2021

September 5, 2021
Harold Goodwin
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  1. Aviation Needs to Adapt to Climate Change and Abandon Fossil Fuels
  2. Climate Change is Going to Disrupt Travel & Tourism
  3. Covid Continues to Disrupt Travel & Tourism 
  4. Human Rights 
  5. Measuring Food Waste
  6. Tackling Overtourism 
  7. Responsible Tourism in China
  8. Tourism Disturbs Wildlife 
  9. València is tackling the Water Issue
  10. Miscellany

2021 RT Events
October 8 WTM Decarbonising Travel & Tourism
October 14 Cornwall  Sustainable Tourism Symposium
November 1-3 WTM London


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1. Aviation Needs to Adapt to Climate Change and Abandon Fossil Fuels

International Aviation Policy Consultant, Chris Lyle, has just published "Code red for aviation: Scoping and reducing the sector’s contribution to climate change"
Chris Lyle argues that " Quantum changes in emissions mitigation governance and measures are essential..." and that "Air transport’s climate-harming emissions have grown substantially from year to year over decades and, with the exception of 2020, they are likely to continue to do so in the absence of intensive and focused action to wean the sector away from its dependence on fossil fuels and towards making its requisite contribution to the climate imperative." "This “white” paper, out for comment and debate, proposes a package of requisite actions by the UNFCCC (starting at COP26 in November), the International Civil Aviation Organization, regulatory authorities, industry (air transport, tourism and trade), travelers and shippers."  Chris Lyle has set out a comprehensive agenda for substantial change. 

It is important to look beyond the silo of travel and tourism to see what is happening in other sectors. In Sweden, the first fossil-free steel has been delivered to Volvo for truck manufacture. Fossil-free steel will be roughly 20-30% more expensive than steel made with fossil fuels, but the price is expected to fall to competitive levels eventually thanks to external factors, such as environmental regulations. Jan Moström, CEO of LKAB, the government-owned mining company declared "It is a crucial milestone and an important step towards the creation of a completely fossil-free value chain from mine to finished steel. We have now shown that it is possible, and the journey continues". more  Full commercial production is expected in 2026 replacing coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. H2 Green Steel, is planning to build a fossil fuel-free steel plant in the north of Sweden, including a sustainable hydrogen facility, with production starting in 2024. more

Griffith Institute for Tourism and Griffith Aviation is hosting a series of webinars exploring research, innovation and good practice that is underway in the aviation sector with regards to new fuels and the transition to a low-carbon economy. Access them here. 

The UK government has launched a consultation on its plans to deliver 5GW of hydrogen production capacity by 2030, estimating that the industry could be worth £900m and support more than 9,000 jobs by the same date. The government is proposing subsidies for the hydrogen industry along the lines of those credited with driving down the cost of offshore wind power. Ministers are proposing to support both blue and green hydrogen production. Many environmentalists have doubts about blue hydrogen which is made using fossil fuels, but its environmental impact can be mitigated by capturing and storing greenhouse emissions underground.
Jess Ralston from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit,  sees hydrogen as part of the future of aviation "I think you'll see changes to aviation by 2050, you'll see sustainable fuels and hydrogen, you'll see electric planes for shorter journeys." In England in 2018, just 10% of people who flew frequently were responsible for more than half of all international flights. Just under half the population didn't take a single flight that year. More 
The UK's  Department for Transport says it is working with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on the benefits of “mandating the provision of environmental information to customers” to enable consumers to purchase less polluting flights  It points to research from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) which suggests that the least polluting flights emit 63 per cent less CO2 than the worst. more
In Scotland Loganair and the University of Strathclyde have partnered Rolls-Royce and the Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS) for a project to develop more sustainable aeroplanes. The project aims to create an aircraft that is capable of short-haul operations across the Highlands and Islands.
A Boston-based start-up backed by some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors is betting on hybrid boat-planes to cross the east and west coasts of the United States (US) in an attempt to revolutionize the future of transportation infrastructure. The boat-planes designed by REGENT, will be all all-electric, a kind of boat-aircraft hybrid featuring a wing-in-ground effect and hydrofoil technologies.

2. Climate Change is Going to Disrupt Travel & Tourism

Droughts, wildfires and flooding will affect destinations, the travel and tourism industry moral and business reasons to press for developed country originating market support for significant reductions in emissions and financing for adaptation.  Extreme heat and wildfires in North America, Australia, Russia and Europe and storm damage and flooding reaching New York. Many perhaps saw climate change as a developing country problem. But 2020  was Europe's warmest on record, 1.9C above the long-term average, it was more than 0.5C greater than the previous high mark.
"The warmth across Europe brought huge temperature differences from the long-term average in some countries with Estonia, Finland and Latvia all recording anomalies of 2.4C. ... "The Arctic, we see warming incredibly rapidly. It was the warmest average surface temperature in the Arctic in a series going back 121 years, in 2020," more
Matthew Paterson, a professor of international politics at the University of Manchester, argues that reaching peak emissions and then rapidly declining four years from now. shouldn’t technically be too difficult In energy, transport and housing, there are numerous alternatives to coal-fired power plants, petrol-fuelled cars and gas boilers that could be deployed at sufficient scale starting tomorrow.  Pearson points to a number of political factors which make this unlikely: the distraction of Covid; the political power of the fossil fuel industries and the unwillingness of governments to regulate and invest to increase the pace of change. 
The World Meteorological Organization has published a new atlas charting the scale of extreme weather events and revealing the disproportionate impacts that tropical cyclones have on disaster statistics as well as on developing countries.
The Maldives is the world's lowest-lying country and Mr Nasheed, President of Maldives 2008-12, has said the projections by UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) would be "devastating" for the nation, putting it on the "edge of extinction". more  Sonam Wangdi, chair of the UN's Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group on climate change has said  "We need to adapt our plans to the worsening climate crisis Our existing plans are not enough to protect our people."  In 2020 the Caribbean had a record-breaking 30 tropical storms - including six major hurricanes. On islands like Antigua and Barbuda, experts say that many buildings have been unable to withstand the intense winds these storms have brought. "We used to see category four hurricanes, so that's what we have prepared for with our adaptation plans, but now we are being hit by category five hurricanes," says Diann Black Layner, chief climate negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States. Several Pacific Island countries were hit by three cyclones between the middle of 2020 and January 2021. In Uganda, communities in the Rwenzori region have been trying to protect themselves from landslides and floods by digging trenches and planting trees, helping to prevent soil erosion. more
Wildfires destroy destinations and it takes years for the forest to grow back. "The wildfires in Turkey have been labelled 'the worst in its history by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Greece has also seen record-breaking wildfires - with 12 times as much land being burned than average. Much of this destruction has been caused by wildfires on the Greek island of Evia, with more than 2,000 people being evacuated by sea. This fire season has seen smoke from Siberia reach the North Pole for the first time in recorded history." more Severe flash flooding hit Turkey’s Black Sea region to the north of the country 17 people reportedly died, with more than 1,400 people evacuated from the areas affected. Thousands were evacuated, including tourists from campsites, as wildfires in southern France consumed 6,000 ha.  In Europe Greece, Turkey, Spain and Portugal are among the countries that have been grappling with wildfires that have claimed lives and destroyed homes. more

Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University, co-author of Merchants of Doubt, writes about the inherent “conservatism” of physical climate science and economics "The scientific conception of rationality as sitting in opposition to emotion, leads many scientists to feel that it is important for them to be ‘sober,’ dispassionate, unemotional, and ‘conservative.’ This often leads them to be uncomfortable with dramatic findings, even when they are true.” The economic impact of climate change is also under costed: economists "tended to be over-confident about the power of markets, and reluctant to acknowledge market failure on the grand scale.” more
In 2004, when researchers discovered that more than half of articles on climate change treated dissenting opinions as equally valid. Research just published reports that that 90% of media coverage accurately represented the scientific consensus that human activity is driving global warming, looking at thousands of articles from 2005 to 2019. more

3. Covid Continues to Disrupt Travel & Tourism
Covid is going to be with us permanently. We need to get used to Covid circulating. Experts have been clear we should expect to be infected repeatedly over our lifetimes. more  Israel has among the world’s highest levels of vaccination for COVID-19, with 78% of those 12 and older fully vaccinated, the vast majority with the Pfizer vaccine. Yet the country is now logging one of the world’s highest infection rates, with nearly 650 new cases daily per million people. More than half are in fully vaccinated people, underscoring the extraordinary transmissibility of the Delta variant and stoking concerns that the benefits of vaccination ebb over time. Science
Our sector is going to have to learn to live with travel disruption caused by climate change and Covid. Dr. Mareba Marissia Scott asks "Are You Vaccinated but Travel Hesitant?"  She writes " Given the recent UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the dire situation with the increased anthropogenic heating of the earth's atmosphere, I feel no guilt about my travel hesitancy. I feel as though I  am doing my part to reduce carbon emissions, but I fear if there are too many persons like me, what will that mean for tourism's recovery, especially in tourism-dependent economies such as those in the Caribbean? " Adaptation will be painful but adapt we must.
There are moral and business reasons to campaign for vaccination equity. James Thornton, CEO of Intrepid Travel, published an open letter on August 4th arguing that for travel to return global vaccine equity is required. As James points out “less than 1% of vaccines have been delivered to low-income countries. But vaccines for the privileged simply won’t cut it. Billions of lives are still at risk.” Intrepid has launched “a global vaccine equity campaign, which focuses on three key actions: a commitment to raise AUD $100,000 via The Intrepid Foundation to support the global delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, improving vaccine access and education by mobilising our on-the-ground networks, and the introduction of a mandatory vaccine policy on our trips.”
In Kerala the State government will establish a revolving fund for disbursing interest-free loans to help out people dependent on the tourism sector who have been affected by pandemic-induced financial crisis.  New Zealand has announced that its borders are to remain closed for the rest of the year., but from early 2022  New Zealand will move to a new individual risk-based model for quarantine-free travel.

4. Human Rights
Once a year, the Roundtable Human Rights in Tourism organises an international symposium with a wide range of stakeholders from the tourism industry. This year, the event will take place online on 22 September 2021, titled: " From Obligation to Aspiration: Supply Chain Laws and the Business Case of Putting People first ".
The event will consist of experts input and a short impulse talk, a panel discussion on current developments in supply chain legislation, its impacts and benefits for tourism stakeholders, and various inputs on specific human rights risk areas.22 SEPTEMBER 2021, 10:00 AM - 01:45 PM CEST ONLINE via ZOOM   Symposium Details  Register

5. Measuring Food Waste
WWF and Greenview have worked with Accor, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG Hotels & Resorts, and Marriott International to develop a standardised methodology for the hotel industry to collect data, and measure and report waste. This methodology creates a consistent way for both chains and individual properties to set meaningful goals to reduce waste, keep it out of landfills, and track progress against those goals over time.  As Madhu Rajesh, CEO of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance has pointed out. “The Hotel Waste Measurement Methodology is a valuable addition to an expanding suite of industry measurement methodologies including our HCMI and HWMI. By coming together as an industry, and sharing expertise, we can develop resources that are designed for the industry context, and support every hotel to manage and improve their impact — wherever they are on their sustainability journey.”  more . Download the methodology.

6. Tackling Overtourism
 La Stampa has reported that from summer 2022 Venice will start charging travellers to visit. Visitors who have paid are expected to enter the city via Disneyland-style electronic turnstiles. The proposed fee will vary seasonally between €3 and €10, residents, their relatives and children under six will be exempt. People “staying in local hotels” are also likely to be exempt, more.
opened its Office of Healthy Tourism some three years ago intended to expand Airbnb’s efforts to economically empower communities, drive travel to lesser-known places, and support environmentally-friendly travel habits. Airbnb has partnered with UNESCO recognising that ", tourism must be part of the economic recovery and community inclusion in Mexico.... “Consequently, this alliance seeks to set the foundations for co-responsible and sustainable tourism that contributes to local economic development, community inclusion, and biodiversity protection in destinations so that this initiative can be replicated across the country and Latin America.” The initiative is being tested in Mexico City and the Yucatan Peninsula.  more  Costa Rica by Land. With WWF Mesoamérica, the Costa Rican Chamber of Restaurants (CACORE) and the National Chef’s Association (ANCH), Airbnb has launched two road trip routes aimed at domestic travellers: Surf and Volcanoes and Valleys. more  & more
In Wales Snowdon has been hit again this year by long queues of people at the summit. watch the BBC video

7. Responsible Tourism in China
For the first time,  this year we have entries from China in WTM Global Responsible Tourism Awards. The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, CBCGDF, a leading national non-profit public foundation and a social legal entity dedicated to biodiversity conservation and green development, has established an ICRT, China with Harold Goodwin as its Director. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS & CEO COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute has been appointed Associate Director.  RT now has a powerful Foundation to work with and RT is now being promoted in Chinese: What is responsible tourism? ¦  What does responsible mean? ¦ The Cape Town Declaration ¦ The Platform for Change
The ICRT, China has organised its first event which takes place this month, view this presentation 
This year's International Coastal Cleanup Day falls on September 18, which coincides with China's traditional Mid-Autumn Festival and is a working day before the short holiday. Given this, CBCGDF has planned a public welfare activity to collect garbage from underwater, land, coastal, river and lake shoreline areas together with volunteers around the world.  The cleanup will be combined with garbage classification, and all participating partners are invited to classify and weigh the garbage according to the following four categories, Recycling, Kitchen Waste, Hazardous Waste, other Rubbish.  If you undertake a coastal clean up please send details to us. 

8. Tourism, Wildlife & Protected Areas
Tourism needs to get Nature Positive. UNESCO and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) put forward a standard methodology for evaluating the impact of protected areas on the local economy. "Once managers understand the number and behaviour of visitors they host, and the revenues and costs they generate, informed decisions on management plans and tourism strategies can be made." more
Stephen Sackur on HARDtalk speaks to Paula Kahumbu, CEO for WildlifeDirect, Kenya. Her campaign to protect elephants and other endangered species asks Kenyans to prioritise the protection of the country’s wild spaces – is it working? listen 
The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) co-hosted "'Elephants - from conflict to coexistence.' more
Seals are being put at risk of death and starvation by tourists disturbing them for selfies and pictures to put on social media, police and charities say.  more

9. València is tackling the Water Issue
València has committed to be a carbon-neutral destination by 2025.  The city's water company Global Omnium,  with the Visit Valencia Foundation and the city council, measured the sources and environmental impact of greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 including travel to Valencia, transport around the city, accommodation, restaurants, shopping, leisure activities, water management, waste treatment and tourism infrastructure. They found that 81% of tourism's carbon footprint came from travel to the city, by plane, train and cruise ships. more  The  research has been extended to cover water revealing that the water footprint of a tourist is  0.315 cubic metres per tourist per day. The calculation includes cruise passengers and those who simply visit the city on an excursion. "Only 16% of the total corresponds to water directly consumed by tourists, mainly in tourist accommodation, while 84% is indirect consumption associated with the production of goods and services, or food processing. This predominantly includes meals that visitors consume in the city’s restaurants, store purchases and the maintenance of attractions and entertainment venues. The use of transport (both public transport and car rental) makes up only 0.10% of tourism’s water footprint."  more

10. Miscellany

    • Griffith Institute for Tourism and Griffith Aviation is hosting a second free webinar series on Aviation Reimagined – Decarbonising Flight. Over five short sessions in September, we will explore policy, research, innovation and good practice that is underway in the aviation sector with regards to the transition to a low-carbon economy.
    • Accommodation powered the UK's GDP recovery +27.8% in June more
    • SUNX Climate Friendly Travel Summer School more
    • Madhu Rajesh will be stepping down as CEO of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance as she moves on to take up a new role and continue her career journey in the advancement of sustainable development. The charity has appointed an interim CEO, Patrick O’Meara, while they select a permanent replacement. more
    • Monaco has launched “Phase 1” of its Responsible Tourism Strategy more
    • Kerala government promoting homestead farming to lure tourists more
    • United Nations – The Nippon Foundation Fellowship is to provide funded opportunities for advanced training in the field of ocean affairs and the law of the sea, or related disciplines more


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