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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 10/2023

November 2, 2023
Harold Goodwin
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Can tourism contribute to peace? Mejdi has pioneered dual narrative tours to, amongst other places, Israel, Palestine and Northern Ireland. Their two-guide model equips groups with two local guides, each representing unique cultural, religious, political, and ethnic narratives. I recorded this with Aziz on Sunday, 15 October, when the Middle East was in crisis, as it will be for some time. Watch the conversation here.
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 as essential to demonstrating what is being achieved and avoiding greenwashing.

  1. Responsible Tourism at WTM London November 7 & 8
  2. Climate Change Accelerates to "gobsmackingly bananas" 
  3. Aviation 
  4. Tourism has to Adapt to Climate Change 
  5. Managing Overtourism
  6. Sustainable Hospitality Summit
  7. Greenwashing is increasingly difficult
  8. Tourism Taxes 
  9. Labelling
  10. Miscellaneous

    1. Responsible Tourism at WTM London November 7 & 8
    Frontiers in Responsible Tourism,
    there is a Responsible Tourism Conference on Tuesday afternoon with a celebration, networking opportunity and drinks reception at 17:0o. The full RT programme at WTM is online here 
    If you are a travel writer, journalist, or broadcaster this may be of interest.
    A special WTM edition of  RT News will be published on 2nd November.

    2. Climate Change Accelerates to "gobsmackingly bananas"
    Ocotber began with reports that the world has breached the 1.5°C mark for a record number of days. On about a third of days in 2023 so far, the average global temperature was at least 1.5C higher than pre-industrial levels.
    According to Zeke Hausfather, a climate researcher at Berkeley Earth and IPCC author, the average temperature for September is “gobsmackingly banans" ... according to the latest data, the world Is now 1.8°C warmer than the pre-industrial era.
    The International Energy Agency reports in its latest Net Zero Roadmap reporting "extraordinary growth in some clean energy technologies – but also increased investment in fossil fuels and stubbornly high emissions. ...  In a Delayed Action Case that the report examines, a failure to expand clean energy quickly enough by 2030 means nearly 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide would have to be removed from the atmosphere every year during the second half of this century" More from the IEA here.
    "The window to avoid 1.5C of warming is shrinking, because we continue to emit and because of our improved understanding of atmospheric physics," said Dr Robin Lamboll from Imperial College London. Record  average emissions of carbon dioxide over the past three years are a key factor. more
    "The 2023 state of the climate report: Entering uncharted territory " report published in BioScience reveals a stark  crisis
    "Life on planet Earth is under siege. We are now in an uncharted territory. For several decades, scientists have consistently warned of a future marked by extreme climatic conditions because of escalating global temperatures caused by ongoing human activities that release harmful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, time is up. We are seeing the manifestation of those predictions as an alarming and unprecedented succession of climate records are broken, causing profoundly distressing scenes of suffering to unfold. We are entering an unfamiliar domain regarding our climate crisis..."
    "By the end of this century, an estimated 3 to 6 billion individuals—approximately one-third to one-half of the global population—might find themselves confined beyond the livable region, encountering severe heat, limited food availability, and elevated mortality rates because of the effects of climate change ... Big problems need big solutions. Therefore, we must shift our perspective on the climate emergency from being just an isolated environmental issue to a systemic, existential threat."

Unfortunately, Climate Change is not the only crisis confronting us.
The global insurer AXA has just released its global risks report for 2023, mapping out "the contours of a world in polycrisis where risks are now interconnected."


3. Aviation
This infographic from the World Bank cartographic group shows the eastward move of world economic activity and dramatic growth in flights and emissions in just one year - just look at the scale in the bottom left.  World Bank Tourism Watch Report

Greenhouse Gas Emissions can be reduced by managing flight arrivals more carefully and avoiding stacking. ATH’s , off-the-shelf, GreenLandings™ landing time management solution calculates the landing time of all TEB aircraft, hours before landing. Once an improved, system-focused, business-based landing time is calculated, the pilot is alerted and becomes an integral part of the solution.

Griffith University has a webinar series examining the progress that is being made by science, policy, industry, and technology to support the decarbonisation of the aviation sector. Aviation Reimagined. 


4. Tourism has to Adapt to Climate Change
Gloria Guevara, Chief Special Advisor to the Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, Head of the Sustainable Tourism Global Center warned in EuroNews that "there are enormous risks if we continue on a business-as-usual path."   "With millions of people dependent on the industry for their livelihoods, governments and businesses should act with urgency to mitigate climate change while also bolstering resilience as extreme weather events rage onward.  The two should focus on parallel tracks: work toward net-zero emissions while bolstering its resilience to climate shocks, to minimize loss and support local communities."
Paige McClanahan has written in the New York Times about ‘Unpredictability in the System,’ and Other Travel Lessons From the Summer of ’23
Intrepid Travel is predicting that carbon passports could limit international travel to reduce emissions, predicting that travellers could be “forced to forgo the horizon-expanding experiences so readily embraced by today’s tourists”. Conducted in partnership with foresight agency, The Future Laboratory, the report warned that frequented tourist spots like Majorca and Greece could become too hot for many people to enjoy summer holidays. They conclude that " “At this pivotal moment in climate history, lack of action from the travel industry will see catastrophic and fatal trends continue to develop.”

In Hawaii,  Maui has reopened for tourists with only fire-ravaged parts of the historic port of Lahaina closed. The Mauian Hotel: “we humbly ask that if you visit West Maui in the coming months, please do so with sensitivity and respect for those who have suffered great losses. Your kindness, understanding and aloha will be appreciated during this time.

Is this the end of the Mediterranean beach holiday?"While the changing climate will affect various regions differently, and although no part of the Earth is immune, scientists agree that southern Europe is seeing – and will continue to see – more heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, coastal floods and stronger wind storms, as well as periods of more intense rainfall. Much of that is falling during summer, the Mediterranean's most popular tourist season." read more 

5. Managing Overtourism
Overtourism is now covered in mainstream media. Monica Pitrelli writing in CNBC  quotes Tatyana Tsukanova, “They just come, take a nice selfie, publish them on social media, increase the popularity of this place … and leave.” Local authorities are deploying fees and fines and demarketing. Amsterdam has cracked down on coach buses, tourist shops, new hotel openings and Airbnb-style home rentals, according to the Guardian. It’s also considering banning cruise ships and moving the city’s famous red-light district out of the city center." In April they launched a travel campaign in April telling some visitors – namely young, male British tourists — to “stay away” if they’re traveling to the city for drugs or parties. In Hallstatt in Austria, the villages built a screen to remove a view which attracted way too many tourists following its appearance in a South Korean television series, following an online backlash the screen was taken down.
In Barcelona cruise ships are being displaced to the Moll d’Adossat pier south of the city, a 30-minute shuttle bus ride from the Ramblas and they are limited to seven berthings per day, down from ten. The abandoned quay will be redeveloped as public space. Euronews has a useful review of all the ports clamping down on cruise ships.
Milan is experimenting with banning of late-night sales of food and drink. Milan’s Mayor Giuseppe Sala said “This idea of ​​the 24-hour city in which there are no opening hours, always open, no longer convinces me so much,” according to Italian news agency Ansa. “I believe that cities should also rest like us humans and have timetables that are a little more suitable for everyone,” he continued
Airbnb in Brussels, "Landlords must now provide evidence to show they meet several criteria, including fire safety certificates, criminal record checks, and urban planning stipulations over building use. Buildings classed as “residential” may not be rented out for more than 120 days a year (30 days less than the average Airbnb, which is rented for 150 days each year according to research by KU Leuven). Owners who breach the rules will face penalties of up to €10,000." Airbnb has objected that the rules are disproportionate and the regulations "will continue to be detrimental to many families in the Region, who depend on this additional income to make ends meet. We hope to work with parliamentarians on rules that, rather than complicating it, make life easier for Brussels families who occasionally rent out their accommodation,” Airbnb suggests that "The revised draft ordinance is unlikely to be in line with the new European framework for the regulation of short-term rentals in the European Union which should be adopted before the end of the year”.
In Japan, there is overtourism on the sacred  Mount Fuji,  the famous “floating” torii gateway to the Itsukushima Shrine receives millions of visitors every year. At the torii gateway, its custodians are introducing a small tax to fund maintenance. With marketing efforts and improved transport links, Japan plans to spread tourism to benefit more communities. Kyoto has promoted a code of behaviour for tourists."~To maximize your appreciation and enjoyment of Kyoto~" There is one for businesses too "~To develop your business while maintaining good relations with the local community~"  more

There are limits to growth in tourism

6. Sustainable Hospitality Alliance
The SHA has donor members and partners representing globally 50,000 hotels, 7 million rooms, more than 270 brands and more than 40 supply chain and strategic partners Back in July I wrote here about the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance’s hospitality benchmarking framework tool. Developed with EY the tool will track and compare sustainability progress across each ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) topic within the Hospitality sector. This is a significant part of their Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality programme, “a practical, four-stage guidance framework as a free resource that supports all parts of the hospitality value chain to progress in a cohesive, strategic manner. It includes detailed action guidance for hotel operators, brands and asset owners, applicable to both single or multi-unit organisations.” As a UK-registered charity, they make resources freely available on their Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality website. There is more about their October Summit here.
Podcast: listen to Glenn Mandziuk, CEO of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA) in conversation with Harold Goodwin about Net Positive Hospitality and his ambitions for the SHA podcast
Video: Anna Dacam, Environment Programme Manager at the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance and a member of Generation Z made the case for urgent action on climate change

7. Greenwashing is increasingly difficult
Ahead of COP28, 131 companies representing nearly $ 1 trillion in global annual revenue are urging national governments to address the primary cause of climate change: burning fossil fuels. This letter, covered by The Financial TimesReuters and other media outlets, was coordinated by We Mean Business Coalition and its partners through the Fossil to Clean campaign. It appears that the only tourism business to have signed is Melia Hotels International.
Last month The New Yorker carried an expose of carbon offsetting: "The Great Cash-for-Carbon Hustle". "Offsetting has been hailed as a fix for runaway emissions and climate change—but the market’s largest firm sold millions of credits for carbon reductions that weren’t real."
The EU's new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) may subject many travel and tourism companies to mandatory emissions reporting and to submit annual transition plans for reducing emissions.  Australia, Canada, India,  the US an UK are on the same pathway to deliver on the Paris commitments. The "International Sustainability Standards Board has recently released what the WTTC says “will eventually become the international norm for sustainability accounting”. All the new standards require disclosure of Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol for corporate accounting."
ABTA has released new guidance on greenwashing and environmental claims analysing the approach of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which published its Green Claims Code in 2021, for businesses that market and advertise the environmental benefits of their travel services and products.

8. Tourism Taxes - Euronews has the list
is planning to introduce a visitor levy once the necessary permissive legislation passes nationally.  The money raised would have to be spent on "facilities and services substantially for or used by persons visiting the area of the local authority for leisure purposes".Edinburgh Council's priorities for spending the extra revenue would be waste, cleansing and improvements to public areas and green spaces.
Iceland: "Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir said that a tourism tax could help combat the impact visitors have on the country’s climate and environment."
Amsterdam: "the city authorities confirmed a tax rise on hotel stays from 7% to 12.5% in 2024. In real terms, this means a hotel costing 175 euros a night would now set a guest back by 191.80 euros – an additional 6.65 euros compared to current prices and taxes.,the tax for cruise passengers will increase from €8 to €11.

9. Labelling
Responsible Travel
has begun carbon labelling holidays - excluding flights.
Wilderness Scotland: Using emission figures provided by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Forestry and Rural Affairs in the UK), and by surveying 300+ accommodation partners we have managed to calculate the carbon footprint of every element of our trips from the vehicle used to get you around, to the accommodation you sleep in, the food you eat and the activities we provide. Where we have been able to get the data, the calculation uses actual emission figures rather than those provided by DEFRA. In our calculations, we account for everything that is included in your trip cost.
Intrepid: has placed carbon labels on over 500 itineraries showing the total CO2-e of the trip per traveller, per day. The total emissions are calculated by identifying the different components contributing to the overall carbon footprint, including accommodations, transportation, food provided during the trip, activities, the local operations’ office emissions and waste. A 15% contingency is then added to each trip’s total emissions, to account for anything unintentionally missing. In 2024, Intrepid will have approximately 4,000 fewer flights on trips (compared to 2023) and will be discontinuing all scenic flights. more
Audley Travel has taken a different and broader approach " ‘Responsible Choice’ recognizes suppliers who are going above and beyond the country norms to give back to the destinations they operate within. It’s also an excellent way to create a culture of positive reinforcement for our network of providers—with the leaders in this space hopefully inspiring others to do better in the way of responsible tourism.
The Science Based Targets initiative announced on November 1st  an updated definition of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and  new fee and waiver details.

10. Miscellaneous
Porters on K2 and Broad Peak are speaking out about the treatment of sick and frostbitten porters in the mountains.
Hope and Homes is campaigning with the support of the UK Border Force and ABTA to end orphanage tourism where vulnerable children are treated as tourist attractions.
Monday 13 November is Doughnut Economics Action Lab Global Donut Day: a day of local, community-led festivals, connected throughout the world, centred around Doughnut Economics.
Meaningful Tourism, the Experience Economy, Positive Psychology and Hedonic Sustainability
Nightjet's Paris to Berlin: New sleeper train between France and Germany to launch later this year
Priceless artefacts smashed by a tourist at Israel Museum
How to ski greener – switch from plane to train
Rewilding Redonda: Tiny Caribbean island’s transformation into a wildlife haven
Washington Post, Why disabled people struggle to book hotels "Despite a legal requirement for hotels to disclose information about their accessibility features in reservation systems, disabled people say they regularly encounter hotel websites with misleading and inaccurate information — or no information at all."


01 November Why hospitality should give back more than it takes
31 October Frontiers in Responsible Tourism
19 October Why travel matters and why we need to do it better
13 Ocotber There are limits to growth in tourism
05 Ocotber Copernicus, blue-algae bloom, Windermere and overtourism

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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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