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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 09/ 2021

October 11, 2021
Harold Goodwin
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  1. RT at WTM London 1-3 November & 8-9 November
  2. Labelling Matters
  3. Biodiversity: nature matters to tourism
  4. Destination Initiatives 
  5. Child Exploitation Resumes 
  6. Decarbonising Travel & Tourism
  7. Climate Change 
  8. easyJet
  9. Covid 
  10. Miscellany 

2022 RT Events
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


The next edition of RT News will be out at the beginning of November 
The Responsible Tourism Hub provides quick links to curated material on Responsible Tourism.
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1. RT at WTM London 1-3 November & 8-9 November
There are four blended RT panels at WTM, London this year on November 1st & 2nd. There will be a large number of on-demand interviews with tourism leaders available on all five days of WTM, London. There are panels on 1st November  Decarbonising the Travel & Tourism SectorHow can the travel and tourism industry contribute more to conservation?; 'Buiding Back Better' for Destination Resilience; 2nd November, Responsible Technology for Travel & Tourism The details are here.  The WTM Responsible Tourism Awards will be presented at 17:30 on 1st November: the India and Rest of the World Awards and the Global Responsible Tourism Awards.     WTM Registration link for attendance at ExCel or virtually

The Directory for the Platform for Change being developed for the World Travel Market by the Responsible Tourism Partnership is now published.  more

2. Labelling Matters
What's in a Label?
The travel and tourism industry has generated a plethora of labels and certification schemes as businesses and destinations seek market advantage. Greenwashing is rife in the sector. Labels need to be credible if they are to have real value for consumers. Unilever is set to introduce carbon footprint labels on 30,000 products by the end of 2021.

Guix, Oilé and Font have just published in Tourism Management on “trustworthy or misleading communication of voluntary carbon offsets in the aviation industry.”They looked at the communication strategies of 37 airlines. They analysed “the trustworthy or misleading attributes of the messages as they are applied to: i) the type of claim (product, process, fact or image), and ii) the nature of the claim (fibbing, hidden trade-off, no proof, vagueness, irrelevance, lesser of two evils or worshipping false labels)”.They conclude that 56% of claims are trustworthy and 44% misleading. The paper, which is freely available online, ranks the performance of the airlines.
As the authors conclude: “We delved into the specific ways in which customers face deceptive and obfuscated communication that is difficult to acknowledge, discern or verify, because it lacks proof, is vague, is oversold without considering the limitations of VCO and/or misrepresents the scientific realities of flying or offsetting. Airlines provide persuasive arguments for their business model by shifting responsibility to customers in framing VCO as ‘the’ solution for customers to act green; they highlight benefits for the customer and the environment while providing the moral license to continue flying.”

Some forms of labelling can change purchasing decisions can cause businesses to reduce emissions 
Booking.com's research was published back in June revealing that around half of respondents found it difficult to find sustainable hotels. Without clear,  authoritative reliable labelling, consumers cannot make informed decisions. Google is now assigning some hotels a green “Eco-certified” label next to a small leaf symbol immediately to the right of the property’s rating and encouraging them to list their sustainability efforts. more Google does not independently verify the claims made by the hotel. On the other hand, it is the owners and managers of the hotels who are making the specific claims. Whilst consumers have no way of seeking compensation from a certifying agency for greenwashing, there is no contract, the consumer can, in many jurisdictions, demand compensation for misselling where the hotel makes false claims about its sustainability.
Consumers have good reason to avoid purchasing carbon offsets, like medieval pardons, they may salve their conscience, but it takes the pressure off the aviation industry to decarbonise. And that is a bad thing.
In 2018 Atmosfair produced an airline index to assist travellers in identifying those airlines with the lowest carbon emissions but the information was not route-specific. Predictably those airlines flying the most modern planes, point to point and with the highest passenger loading performed best.

Google have worked their magic with big data and consumers can now choose a lower emissions flight. Go to the Google flights search engine and key in origin airport and destination. Select London JFK and sort by CO2 emissions.  You could book a flight emitting 505kg CO2 (34% below average emissions on the route) and 1.65 tonnes (+116%). If you select the cheapest the search engine also reveals the emissions performance, for the dates I searched on the airline's emissions were  2% higher (+12Kg CO2).  The data is not perfect, where you sit on the plane will affect your emissions, first-class seats are heavier and take up more space, but it is a good start. 'Google Flights uses over 300 partners, like airlines, online travel agencies and aggregators to display flight information including flight options, prices, and schedules.'  more
Google uses the European Environmental Agency (EEA) emission estimates with the most up-to-date algorithmic model from 2019. They explain how they calculate the emissions here and here.

This form of labelling empowers consumers to make better, more sustainable choices, reveals the performance of different airlines and leaves the responsibility for reducing emissions with the airlines, which is where it belongs.

At, last carbon labelling on flights. 

3. Biodiversity: nature matters to tourism
As Justin Francis has written in The Independent  Every single holiday we take relies on nature – and impacts on it, too. Tourism has to change to protect it. Whether a city break or ecotourism every holiday consumes nature, we need to work to become nature positive.

As the 15th UN Biodiversity Conference opens virtually a Biodiversity Intactness Index, which estimates the percentage of natural biodiversity that remains across the world and in individual countries, has been published. The UK's industrial revolution transformed landscapes and destroyed biodiversity. "The UK is one of the world's most nature-depleted countries - in the bottom 10% globally and last among the G7 group of nations, it has an average of about half its biodiversity left, far below the global average of 75%, a study has found. Biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history. Since 1970, there has been on average almost a 70% decline in the populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. It is thought that one million animal and plant species - almost a quarter of the global total - are threatened with extinction." more & more 
In the UK the Council for Sustainable Business has. with the support of the UK government. mounted a Get Nature Positive campaign which challenges businesses to take urgent action to address the loss of biodiversity and climate change: "A nature positive approach puts nature and biodiversity gain at the heart of decision-making and design." As they point out "Every business involved in making a holiday experience is also part of the impact tourism has on the natural world." They identify the key challenges: pollution; over-exploitation; land-use change; climate change and invasive species and suggest ways of meeting each of the challenges. more 
The San Diego Parks & Recreation Department orchestrated the emergency closure after months of reports of beach-goers bothering, and in a few cases harming, sea lions and their pups. Point La Jolla is a rocky area where sea lions often go on land to rest. It also is a sea lion birthing area where the annual pupping season is recognized from June 1 to Oct. 31. Cllr LaCava told the La Jolla Community Planning Association  that a “responsible tourism” public education campaign and a sign program telling people to keep their distance from the sea lions were “not particularly effective” and that the city had decided to take “more assertive steps.” more

A new report by the Luc Hoffmann Institute – The Future of Nature-Based Tourism: Impacts of COVID-19 and paths to sustainability – outlines the challenges facing the nature-based tourism sector and offers recommendations for future resilience and sustainability. An EU survey cited in the report found that 543 tourism operators working in African protected areas collectively employed 48,000 people, of whom more than half were recruited locally. On average, 65% of local staff members were on reduced wages and hours because of the pandemic, and more than half have put some (or all) of their local employees on leave without pay since February 2020. An estimated 94% of local employees would be affected by being on reduced wages, unpaid leave, being made redundant or unemployed if the crisis continues.

The World Bank has developed and published a  Collaborative Management Partnership Toolkit is a resource guide to support the identification and establishment of such partnerships. It raises awareness of the role of these partnerships in reducing the massive protected area funding gap, catalyzing rural development and supporting job creation.

Uttarakhand to deploy women as wildlife safari drivers, and nature guides across all tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. Until now only men were employed. Times of India 

4. Destination Initiatives
Scotland has launched a campaign to encourage visitors to embrace 'slow travel', encouraging people to spend more time in one place, seek out lesser-known destinations, and explore environmentally-friendly options for travelling around. VisitScotland will be repositioned as a place to “slow down, re-charge, escape and enjoy immersive and sustainable tourism experiences.” This year Highlands Council, which includes the North Coast 500 had 17 rangers carry out 1100 patrols promoting and advising on responsible access to the countryside. They also carried out duties to keep tidy, maintain and manage council-owned sites and public paths, with responsible camping a high priority. Cllr Gordon Adam said: “In less than four months, over 60,000 vehicles were recorded in car parks and on roadsides over the summer weekends, with over 35,000 people observed by the team, just under half of whom were informed or reminded of responsible behaviour by the access ranger team." more

Airbnb has created an anti-party system blocking around 50,000 bookings of those under 25 years old and with less than three positive opinions. Since August 2020 they have blocked  50,000 people from booking with Airbnb in Spain and 375,000 across Europe. The anti-party system came about “to prevent irresponsible behaviour and reduce unauthorised parties in accommodation in some countries in Europe” and also operates in the US & Canada. “Airbnb is committed to ensuring that communities can enjoy the positive benefits of responsible tourism, and these measures are helping to eliminate the kind of behaviour that has absolutely no place on Airbnb.” more  & more
Airbnb has announced that it is launching a six-month noise detector pilot programme for hosts and that it will provide guests with a dedicated ‘Good Neighbour Guide’ for visits to Prague. Airbnb’s pilot programme enables hosts use to a noise monitoring sensor to detect, solve noise and nuisance concerns in their listing, and to help guests travel responsibly in local neighbourhoods.  The Mayor of Prague has sought to limit Airbnb’s presence and combat perceived ‘overtourism’. In February he told The Observer that he wanted to “give Prague back to the people of Prague.” “In the past, you could limit the amount of tourists in the city simply by approving a certain number of hotels of certain capacity during the process of building permits. Now in Prague, there is no possibility for the city to limit the accommodation capacity for tourists.” Pre-Covid, it was revealed that the number of listings on the site in Prague had jumped from 5,537 to over 13,000 in two years, and some local residents had complained about increased noise disturbances and soaring rental costs.

5. Child Exploitation Resumes
Mama Fatima Singhateh, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children has warned that the unprecedented socio-economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing stark inequalities and the vulnerabilities of the most disadvantaged children, thereby amplifying the risks of exposing them to sale, sexual and labour exploitation in the context of hospitality and travel and tourism industry, both online and offline. "Everyone has a role to play in preventing exploitation of children in travel and tourism, companies, including in the hospitality and entertainment industry, must conduct human rights due diligence and provide employees with regular training on sexual exploitation of children and adopt obligatory reporting of suspected cases. more

6. Dcarbonising Travel & Tourism
Biden’s Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, has recently announced a plan to
ensure affordability of clean energies by decreasing costs, hoping to reduce the cost of hydrogen by 80% by 2030, from around $5/kg today to $1/kg by 2030. more  & more 
For Dcarbonise Week WTM Responsible Tourism organised panels on decarbonising aviation, accommodation and tour operating These panels will be available on-demand at WTM, London.  The programme is available here.

On 23 September British Airways operated its first carbon-neutral passenger flight from London to Glasgow. British Airways has made changes to the Airbus A320neo, including installing newer, lighter seats on the new aircraft, lighter catering trollies and has replaced heavy flight manuals and inflight magazines with digital downloads, all helping to reduce the weight of the aircraft, contributing to lower fuel use and lower emissions. This was showcase flight, with co-operation from air traffic control to assure a continuous climb from Heathrow and descent into Glasgow, avoiding any levelling off, which causes an increase in fuel burn. The flight emitted 62% less than a comparable flight in 2010. 34% of the improvement was attributed by BA to more efficient aircraft and operations, 28% from SAF and 38% from offsetting using high quality, verified carbon offsets. more

According to an analysis by experts from environmental NGOs International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), ODI and Transport and Environment (T&E), 27% of total emissions are provided by just 20 airports. Dubai 16.m tonnes, London Heathrow 16.2m; Los Angeles International 12.9m more

The Airport Tracker also provides data by airport and country. So for the UK

Jet2.com reports that from 2011 to 2020 they improved efficiency by more than 19%, averaging 2.4% a year; substantially ahead of ICAO’s global annual average fuel efficiency goal of 2% until 2020, when the pandemic caused emissions in  gCO2 per passenger kilometre to rise to a level above where they were in 2011. Jet2.com’s “efficient flying” programme focused on all aspects of the airline’s operations including single-engine taxi operations; pre-conditioned air; careful fuel requirement planning; performance-based navigation approaches; reduced thrust takeoffs and continuous descents; and using electric ramp vehicles and fixed electrical ground power where available, combined with ongoing weight-saving initiatives from lightweight seats, lighter catering carts, the removal of paper manuals and the introduction of carbon brakes.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2holidays and Jet2.com told Travel Weekly that Jet2  is incorporating the price of carbon-offsets into its fares, adding the equivalent cost of a cup of coffee to each flight.

7. Climate Change
To avoid the worst impacts of hotter conditions, the July IPCC Report concluded that global carbon emissions needed to be cut by 45% by 2030 for a 1.5°C rise and 25% for a 2°C rise. In preparation for COP26 the UNFCCC has reported on the latest NDCs: "The available NDCs of all 191 Parties taken together imply a sizable increase in global GHG emissions in 2030 compared to 2010, of about 16%. This could eventually lead to a temperature rise of 2.7C (4.9F) above pre-industrial times. 

The impact of climate change is uneven and grossly unfair. The World Economic Forum reported one of those cases on 3rd September. "Madagascar is suffering from famine caused by climate change, in spite of only contributing 0.01% of all the carbon dioxide generated from 1933-2019... The famine, caused by a devastating, four-year drought, is placing at least 30,000 people in the most extreme stage of food insecurity: a level five famine, as defined by the World Food Programme (WFP). At least 1.1 million are in some kind of severe food insecurity.." more
Analysis by the BBC has revealed that the number of extremely hot days every year when the temperature reaches 50C has doubled since the 1980. The total number of days above 50C (122F) has increased in each decade since 1980. On average, between 1980 and 2009, temperatures passed 50C about 14 days a year. The number rose to 26 days a year between 2010 and 2019. In the same period, temperatures of 45C and above occurred on average an extra two weeks a year. These increases have not been felt equally around the world: Eastern Europe, southern Africa and Brazil saw some maximum temperatures rise by more than 1C, and parts of the Arctic and Middle East recorded increases of more than 2C. This year saw record temperatures: 48.8C in Italy and 49.6C in Canada
Climate change: IPCC report is 'code red for humanity'

8. easyJet
On 27th September easyJet launched its "inaugural sustainability strategy led by its vision for “a world where travel makes a positive impact on the environment and local communities”
They describe their mission: "When it comes to sustainability we want to raise the bar, positively shake things up and lead the industry. To make sustainability part of our everyday culture, enabling us, our partners, and you to reduce your footprint, and make a positive impact on the people and places that make our destinations so special." They are seeking to scale up sustainable travel and make it available to everyone. They recognise that carbon offsetting is an interim measure and they have taken a range of measures to reduce fuel consumption before offsetting. more   There are three core pillars – create better holiday choices making sustainable travel affordable and accessible to everyone; keep our holidays special which is maximising the benefits and minimising the negative impacts of travel and tourism, and transform travel for everyone embedding sustainability into business decisions and behaviours and driving meaningful change in the industry. more
Carbon emissions reduction and offsetting: In May easyJet became "the first major tour operator to offset the carbon emissions from its package holidays – comprising the fuel used for flights and in-destination transfers, as well as the energy used from hotel stays". They reported that "Since 2000, the airline has cut its carbon emissions per passenger, per kilometre by a third. While easyJet believes that offsetting is the best way to address its carbon emissions right now, it is only an interim measure until radical new technologies are available and easyJet is actively involved in the development of all-electric, hybrid and hydrogen propulsion to achieve zero-emission flying in the future." They are "carbon offsetting through schemes accredited by two of the highest verification standards, Gold Standard and VCS. They will include forestry, renewable and community-based projects." more

9. Covid

The 56-day trend graph is turning down, but the situation varies by country and there may yet be a new variant.

Covid-19 is continuing to spread around the world, with around 237 million confirmed cases and more than 4.8 million deaths across almost 200 countries.

The US, India and Brazil have seen the highest number of confirmed cases, followed by the UK, Russia and Turkey.

Much more detailed information is available here including a map showing the distribution of pandemic and current incidence by region and country.


10. Miscellany
There were panels in Spanish and Portuguese at WTM Latin America on community-based tourism, Afro-tourism, regenerative tourism, and the WTM  Responsible Tourism Awards. These panels are now available online.
How to Talk About Waste in Tourism
"Reframing “waste” so that people see value and opportunity instead of garbage helps them conceptualize this deeply held belief in a new way." more on Rooted Storytelling

The Vatican says on World Tourism Day that tourism needs to protect both people and the planet as well as promote a more inclusive economy, "and resist the temptations of individualism and nationalism that are too common in our contemporary society." more
Accor joins global sustainability network, the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance
Google joins the Travalyst Coalition
Documentary: The Last Tourist, Tourism has lost its way Trailer 
VisitBritain on sustainability 
Trafalgar and Costsaver
make responsible tourism excursion pledge committing to offer at least one ‘Make Travel Matter Experience’ on each tour by 2023. They are part of  The Travel Corporation which expects them to have a ‘Make Travel Matter Experience’ on  50% of all our itineraries by 2025. Trafalgar and Costsaver are planning on 100% by 2023.


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