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RT News: Latest Developments in Responsible Tourism 12/2022

December 17, 2022
Harold Goodwin
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  1. 1st Global Summit on Responsible Tourism & Symposium on Technology for Responsible Tourism
  2. 2023 Responsible Tourism Awards open for WTM Latin America and WTM Africa. 
  3. COP15 Tourism and Biodiversity aspiring to be Nature Positive
  4. Tourism's Climate Footprint - - is it shrinking?
  5. Decarbonising Aviation 
  6. Listing your hotel as sustainable 
  7. Indigenous and  local communities push back 
  8. Responsible Tourism in India
  9. Responsible Tourism in Scotland
  10. Miscellany

This newsletter and the website are now available in 20 languages - see the box top right.
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.  

1. 1st Global Summit on Responsible Tourism & Symposium on Technology for Responsible Tourism
The 1st Global Responsible Tourism Summit, 25-27 February 2023,
will be hosted by the Kerala Department of Tourism in Kumarakom, where RT originated in the state following the 2008 conference. The focus of this summit is to bring together Responsible and Sustainable Tourism specialists and practitioners from different parts of the world to learn and exchange their experiences and to revise the 2008  Kerala Responsible Tourism Declaration. The summit will be held at the world-renowned Responsible Tourism Destination in the backwaters of Kumarakom. The two days of the Summit will showcase both Indian and International speakers and will also include one-day field visits at Kumarakom and Maravanthuruthu - the new STREET destination of RT Mission recognised in the 2022 WTM Global Responsible Tourism Awards.
The 2023 Kerala Declaration on Responsible Tourism will be based on the 2022 Responsible Tourism Charter signed and launched on Magna Carta Island on 6th November 2022.

The Technology for Responsible Tourism  Symposium 1st & 2nd March 2023 will be held at Calicut (180 km north along the coast) immediately following the Global Summit. Technology and innovation have a major role to play. in achieving sustainability. From reducing carbon footprints to sustainable regenerative development by reducing, reusing and recycling everything, technology, if harnessed diligently, can be a game changer. At the Technology for Responsible Tourism Symposium in Kerala will follow the Responsible Tourism Global Summit, we will gather to deliberate on what is possible.  We will also showcase success stories that can be adapted and replicated in other geographies. There will be an opportunity for field visits on 3rd March before departing from Cochin on 4th March

2. 2023 Responsible Tourism Awards open for WTM Latin America and WTM Africa.
The 3rd WTM Latin America RT Awards  are open until January 30th. The finalists who will receive the “Gold” and “Silver” Awards and the “One to Watch” will be announced in the first week of March, and the awards ceremony will take place during WTM Latin America in April 2023. and encourage those ventures and projects that deserve to be awarded and can inspire everyone to promote increasingly responsible tourism."
Africa Travel Week is calling all sustainability champions, changemakers, movers, and shakers to enter the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards 2023 as applications are now open for entries. This is your chance to be recognised as a leader in responsible tourism and to put your company on the world map. Enter by 17 February 2023.
There are six categories. 1. Best for Tackling Plastic Waste  ¦  2. Best for Meaningful Connections¦  3. Best for Local Sourcing, Craft and Food ¦ 4. Addressing Climate Change ¦  5.  Best for Diversity and Inclusion  ¦ 6. Best for Nature-Positive Tourism  Details

 3. COP15 Tourism and Biodiversity: aspiring to be Nature Positive
As this edition of RT News goes out, there is still no consensus on the outcomes of COP 15, which is scheduled to conclude on 19th December. 

Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UNEP, has warned that: "“As far as biodiversity is concerned, we are at war with nature. We need to make peace with nature. Because nature is what sustains everything on Earth … the science is unequivocal.” " Leading scientists in an editorial in Science Advances: “Failure is not an option this time as Earth’s terrestrial, marine, and freshwater systems begin to collapse under the pressure to meet the needs of a global population that will soon approach 10 billion,”

"Earth is experiencing the largest loss of life since the dinosaurs, and humans are to blame. The way we mine, pollute, hunt, farm, build, and travel is putting at least one million species at risk of extinction, according to scientists. The sixth mass extinction in geological history has already begun, some scientists assert, with billions of individual populations being lost." More on the background to the CBD COP15

The travel and tourism industry has endorsed Nature Positive as the new target.  The WTTC has published Nature Positive Travel & Tourism with an aspiration that the sector becomes "Guardians of Nature and get Nature Positive by 2030."The WTTC asserts that “Taking direct action to reduce impacts and restore nature, while encouraging supply chains and destination partners to do the same, can protect our planet and also boost tourism appeal. Managed well, Travel & Tourism can reconnect people with nature, invest in species protection through effective community-led partnerships and play a leading role in a Nature Positive future.”  There is more on Animondial's website.

Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel and  biodiversity lead for the UK Government’s Council for Sustainable Business, pointed out last month that: “Despite our best intentions, our supply chains – particularly if they include intensively produced beef, dairy, soy, palm oil, cocoa, timber and pulp, or hotels or cruise lines with poor environmental standards – are destroying nature and wildlife.”   The Get Nature Positive website has a rich section on tourism,

Responsible Travel has committed to become nature positive by 2030. It defines "nature positive holidays are those which directly contribute to, and advance, the protection of habitats and wildlife, and support the re-wilding of the planet’s natural spaces. Responsible Travel has committed to becoming nature positive by 2030, meaning all holidays available on our site will not only not do any harm to wildlife and habitats, but actively leave them with more protection and support." And they are "talking about all forms of tourism, from city breaks to cycling trips, beach breaks to safaris. Just 7% of holidays we take to focus on wildlife and nature-positive tourism needs to be much more wide-reaching. All tourism is reliant on nature – from the clean water you drink to the climate and views you enjoy - and nature is impacted by all types of tourism. We need to start changing the way we think about nature on our holidays and the impact we are having."

At COP 15  the Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) announced the formation of a Hospitality and Tourism Task Force to be comprised of CEOs from across the hospitality and tourism industry, under the leadership of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance and the Considerate Group. The Task Force will provide leadership and foster collaboration “in the pursuit of tangible, scalable and practical sustainable solutions.”

As with the challenge of climate change, too little progress is being made to avert severe consequences for ourselves and the other species with which we share our finite planet. more

The World Bank has pointed out, "We cannot ignore that nature and biodiversity loss is a material risk to our economies, our financial sector and therefore to development."


The international trade of rhino horn has been banned by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) since 1977. However, local trade in South Africa has been legal since April 2017, following the overturning of the government’s 2009 moratorium on the domestic rhino horn trade. Now, a few parties are pushing for CITES to lift its long-standing international ban, stating that doing so could be the solution needed to finally put an end to poaching. The question is, can this view be supported with evidence? According to Colin Bell, Founder of Wilderness Safaris, and Ian Michler, Owner of Invent Africa, the answer is a resounding “no”. Here’s what these two conservation legends had to say about the matter during a recent webinar. more

Tourists are in favour of wild animal protection over trophy hunting in South Africa. "84% of international visitors would vote for wildlife-friendly tourism as a priority and reject unethical trophy hunting. 74% of participants believe that this practice will surely damage South Africa’s reputation, while 70% of South African citizens want trophy hunting officially banned by the government and 74% of South African inhabitants lobby for wildlife-friendly tourism alternatives." more


4. Tourism's Climate Footprint - is it shrinking?
The WTTC and Saudi-based Sustainable Global Tourism Center launched inaugural Environmental & Social Research reporting that between 2010 and 2019 the sector’s GDP has grown on average 4.3% annually whilst its climate footprint increased by just 2.4%. Previous estimates have suggested that the global Travel & Tourism sector was responsible for up to 11% of all emissions. However, WTTC’s pioneering research shows that in 2019 the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions totalled just 8.1% globally. "The divergence of the sector’s economic growth from its climate footprint between 2010 and 2019 is evidence that Travel & Tourism’s economic growth is decoupling from its greenhouse gas emissions." 

The Net Zero Roadmap for Travel & Tourism is available online.

5. Decarbonising Aviation

First the GOOD NEWS
Rolls Royce have set a new aviation milestone with the world’s first run of a modern aero engine on hydrogen. The ground test used green hydrogen created by wind and tidal power and marks a major step towards proving that hydrogen could be a zero carbon aviation fuel of the future. They are working with easyJet to develop hydrogen combustion engine capabilities capable of powering a range of aircraft, including those in the narrow-body market segment. Rolls Royce have acquired a 54% majority stake in electrolysis stack specialist Hoeller Electrolyzer,  this innovative technology will form the basis of a new range of mtu electrolyzer products within Rolls Royce's Power Systems division.  more

The European Commission has approved France's 2021 Climate Law proposed by France's Citizens' Convention on Climate - a citizens' assembly tasked with finding ways to reduce the country's carbon emissions.  Flights between cities that are linked by a train journey of less than 2.5 hours will be banned. France is also cracking down on the use of private jets for short journeys. more

And now the bad
"Preliminary data for 2022 show an increase in fossil CO2 emissions relative to 2021 of +1.0% (range 0.1% to 1.9%) globally, primarily driven by growth in oil use from the delayed rebound of aviation since the COVID-19 pandemic. ...The latest data confirm that the rate of increase in fossil CO2 emissions has slowed, from 3% per year during the 2000s to about +0.5% per year in the past decade."  Global Carbon Data Project was formed to work with the international science community to establish a common and mutually agreed knowledge base to support policy debate and action to slow down and ultimately stop the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

As Bobby Banerjee, Professor of Management, City, University of London, explains Why COP27 should be the last of these pointless corporate love-ins. 

We should not forget the UN Secretary-General's remarks to High-Level opening of COP27 on November 27th
"our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.  We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator." Climate change is the "defining issue of our age", "the central challenge of our century". It is unacceptable, outrageous and self-defeating to put it on the back burner. Indeed, many of today’s conflicts are linked with growing climate chaos." more

COP27 went badly. As Sharma, president of COP26, spelt out :
“Emissions peaking before 2025 as the science tells us is necessary. Not in this text. ...
Clear commitments to phase out all fossil fuels. Not in this text. ...
Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 degrees was weak. Unfortunately, it remains on life support. All of us need to look ourselves in the mirror and consider if we have fully risen to the challenge.”  more

6. Listing your hotel as sustainable
Sarah Habsburg
explains how to list your hotel as sustainable on Booking, Google, and Expedia. As she says, " The choice is no longer black or white; it is not even when should we get started, it is how we get started in a way that maximises positive impact. Listing your property on Booking.com, Google, or Expedia as “sustainable” according to the list of criteria is not a finite process, it is just the start of responsible business decision-making that is consistently woven into everything you do from now on."  more

7. Indigenous and  local communities push back
Java, Indonesia,  villagers set the rules for tourists visiting their area, working with the local government to help protect popular sites, break the rules and a fine of up to 1 million rupiah (US$67) applies, but if you can’t pay, you might instead be asked to plant tree seeds. The Sindoro Mountain area is one of a growing number of the 1734 ‘desa wisata’ or rural tourist villages seeking to ensure sustainability for future generations of Indonesians.

In the UK  Airbnb is collaborating with property monitoring company Minut to support its Good Neighbour Campaign, bringing together a series of measures and resources to help combat anti-social behaviour in short-term rentals. In in the two years since the technology launched, approximately 135,000 people in the UK have been prevented from booking.

Canada "In the words of Keith Henry, CEO and president of the Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), Canada’s indigenous tourism is an excellent opportunity for tourists to connect with the native people of the land, the people who have known these lands as their home for millennia in a way that is meant to contribute positively to their own community."  more

Beat of  Hawaii: "According to last Sunday’s New York Times, paying $145 nightly (now $170) to stay on a private farm near Hilo, in a small cottage without electricity and a bathroom, and not even helping with farm duties, is an example of responsible tourism. Really? It seems like “responsible tourism” is the new buzzword and is tossed around in ways that it was not meant to be."

Cornwall: Malcolm Bell, retiring next month from Visit Cornwall, argued tourism on the south-west coast relies on 'friends and guests' - and forgetting the 'f***ing emmets.' He argued that "holidaymakers 'fall into five categories' and said the tourist board must target those who will leave a positive impact on the area." 'In my mind, visitors fall into five 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,' he said. He claims 'emmets' - an old dialect word meaning 'ant' and used to describe holidaymakers - swamped the region for two Covid-restricted summers because they were unable to travel abroad. "
Cornwall Council revealed in September that almost 62 per cent of a total £170million business support claimed by second home-owners during the pandemic went to landlords living outside the county. more
Fodor's has placed Cornwall on its No List because it is suffering from too much tourism. "Tourists have been warned to give Cornwall a break and not visit because of the pressure over-tourism is putting on the infrastructure, housing and natural resources." more

8. Responsible Tourism in India

Madhya Pradesh, the first state to follow the Kerala model of Responsible Tourism, is planning to implement various RT for example Responsible Tourism clubs and STREET (Sustainable, Tangible, Responsible, Experiential, Ethnic, Tourism). A 16-member official delegation from Madhya Pradesh visited Maravanthuruthu panchayat in Kottayam district to study Kerala's sustainable and inclusive tourism project. more & more
At WTM, London, Mohamed Riyas, Minister for Tourism, said, “We have created more than 25,000 units under the state RT Mission. These units are of small-scale entrepreneurs, artists, craftsmen, traditional workers, farmers and other service providers from the grassroots of the local community.” He  said the community's effective involvement in all RT activities in the state has resulted in the evolution of a successful model in the post-Covid world.  more

When the 18 water bodies of Maravanthuruthu became part of the tourism project, its uniqueness drew the attention of domestic and international travellers - the panchayat cleaned and deepened 18 canals, developed activities for tourists and formed an RT club to coordinate and maintain the waterways and tourism activities. more & more

With responsible tourism the buzzword, The Hindu reports some simple, sustainable travel practices for youngsters.

Kerala to Create Women-friendly Tourism Network  & more

9. Responsible Tourism in Scotland
 £3m has been awarded to 10 tourism projects across Scotland to improve visitor facilities and promote low-carbon transport options. Managed by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund was created to improve the quality of the visitor experience in rural areas that have faced pressure on their infrastructure due to this increase in visitor numbers. more

In a bid to welcome responsible tourism to Argyll & Bute, the local authority is looking at how to improve its offer to those having a staycation. Along with toilets, car park upgrades, new signs and overnight parking for motor caravans, the council will be reminding tourists that they have to keep up their end of the bargain as well, including parking and driving safely. more

10. Miscellany

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (Alliance) signed a Co-operation Agreement on the protection of migrants and enhance safe, orderly, and regular labour migration. The two organisations will expand cooperation between the private and public sectors on a spectrum of areas including labour migration, ethical recruitment, migrant worker protection, countertrafficking, integration, promotion of economic growth, and support for human development.
Greta Thunberg on How We Can All Be Climate-Positive Travelers
Surfers Against Sewage We’re facing a second wave of sewage pollu­tion
The Chatty Cafe Scheme has ambitions to come to every country by 2030 to tackle loneliness 
Mark Jones "I was at the COP climate conference in Egypt last week – and foresaw the end of tourism as we know it" 

Spain sets sights on becoming ‘global sustainability leader’ 
Pedro Medina, deputy director of the Spanish Tourist Office in the UK.
Wellcome Collection in London shuts ‘racist, sexist and ableist’ medical history gallery
What does responsible skiing look like?
Plastic waste from across the world found on remote Ascension Island in the South Atlantic has been traced back to countries including China, Japan and South Africa.

JOBS: Senior Sustainability Manager, VisitBritain   more

The next edition of RT News will be out in January  
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