Southend, domination by London commuters and the threat to local identity

On April 5th the Evening Standard reported that house prices ‘rise by £3,000 a minute as you approach central London by train’. “Living just 20 seconds further away from one of London’s major transport hubs can shave an average of £1,000 off the cost of a home, according to research by estate agents Savills.” Housing costs in Faversham, my hometown, have risen by 26% over the last five years and by 39% over the last ten years.

This in tonight’s Evening Standard 

Southend is not just London extended

Readers of the Evening Standard who live in Southend-on-Sea will have enjoyed Ruth Bloomfield’s jolly article [“Home for tea and a dip in less than an hour”, Homes and Property, April 20]. They will probably feel proud to be part of the “influx of London commuters … breathing new life” into our erstwhile “old-fashioned Essex seaside town”.

However, Southenders, especially those under 40 and working locally, may not enjoy the “impressive price rises” quite so much as they save to buy a home for their families. They may also feel their part of Southend is under invasion as small businesses are being forced to close and are being replaced by growing battalions of estate agents and solicitors’ offices greedily jacking up house prices.

I love living in Southend precisely because, unlike London, it does not have lots of dress shops and wine bars — instead, we have specialist  and idiosyncratic shops. I enjoy the company of characters I see every day, most of whom do not enjoy yachting, tennis, horse riding or going to art classes.

This is my home — and I hope it will be for many years to come.
Paul Miller


Local identity matters.

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Africa Responsible Tourism Awards

On April 1st, I chaired the judging of the African Responsible Tourism Awards in Johannesburg with the benefit of the expertise of carefully chosen professionals from throughout the tourism industry in Africa.  Details of the judges can be found here

The judging of the Responsible Tourism Awards always creates and exciting and rewarding day as the judges debate,  back and forth, about who should win and why. It is an exhaustive process, often the difference between winning Gold and winning Silver is small. It is a significant achievement to be shortlisted and those who win medals should all be proud of their achievement.

The African Responsible Tourism Awards are part of a growing family of Responsible Tourism Awards run according to the principles and procedures established by the World Responsible Tourism Awards.


Overall Winner: Naboisho Conservancy, Kenya
“Prior to setting up Naboisho Conservancy, four years of consultation with the 554 landowners lead to 94% of them signing over their land to a holding company with their own appointed directors who have in turn entered into a management agreement with Naboisho Conservancy. The community gets direct and tangible benefits from wildlife conservation; no other activity provides as much income to as many people as Naboisho Conservancy. With these direct benefits there is less need for the community to rely on other destructive practices such as intensive farming and over grazing by too many cattle. This in turn furthers the cycle for a sustainable future for community driven wildlife conservation.  Naboisho Conservancy pioneered controlled livestock grazing and holistic rangeland management. The co-existence between wildlife and cattle, where the interests of wildlife and traditional Maasai livestock practices are mutually respected and genuinely integrated is remarkable. The term ‘Naboisho’ literally means “coming together” in the Maasai’s Maa language and this is exactly what Naboisho Conservancy represents.”

Best for Beach Tourism Gold Winner: Nkwichi Lodge
“To help bring the world’s most biodiverse freshwater lake and a 120 000 ha of lakeshore and escarpment under formal protection – in partnership with 16 villages – are remarkable achievements.  Gold Award winner Nkwichi Lodge on Lake Malawi is completely solar powered and plastic-bottle free. It is the engine behind sustainable agriculture and aquaculture farms where skills are built and produce for the lodge and community cultivated, a maternity clinic, schools and boarding house for girls, a range of community enterprises that generate income and reduce travelling distances, and community sport teams and events that also celebrate local culture.”

Best for Beach Tourism: Innovation  Gold Winner: Shark Spotters
“Shark Spotters’ solution to safe beaches removes the fear factor from enjoying Cape Town’s beaches while working to protect sharks, particularly the Great White Shark – a globally threatened species. This pioneering and innovative approach netted a Gold Award.  Spotters positioned on the mountainsides surrounding swimming beaches look out for sharks near shore and use a series of flags as a warning system. Community members benefit from employment and skills development, and beachgoers get to learn about sharks and their place in the ecology.”

Silver Winner: Baobab Beach Resort
“The judges appreciated the wide range of in-house environmental management practices that reduce water and energy use and help to manage waste at Baobab Beach Resort. Efforts to protect children from exploitation, conserve the coastal forest environment, reach out to communities through tours for guests and a weekly village market, contributed to a Silver Award.”


Best Contribution to Cultural Heritage Conservation

Gold Winner: Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve|
“The Gold Award went to Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve, custodian of over 130 unique San rock art sites. At its heart Bushmans Kloof is about the conservation of this remarkable heritage and culture. Over the past few months Bushmans Kloof has been one of the main sponsors of a unique troupe of dancers from Wupperthal – a small, impoverished village in the area. Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers has not only been reviving the art of the Rieldans – a traditional dance form – but has also placed Wupperthal on the world map – taking the 2015 World Champions of the Performing Arts by storm.” |

Silver winners: Segera Retreat  &  Wilderness Safaris
“Silver Awards went to Segera Retreat in Kenya for the range of traditional cultures with which travellers can authentically engage to the benefit of local livelihoods and the conservation of diverse cultures and to Wilderness Safaris for their efforts, since 2011, to ensure that their safari camps express and present the cultural heritage of the local communities.”


Best Operator for People with Disabilities

Silver winners: ATKV Goudini Spa Flamingo Tours
“Equitable access to holidays for people of all abilities and incomes remains a big issue in Africa. The judges’ decision not to award a Gold in this category reveals that much work still needs to be done in the tourism sector.  However, there are two Silver Awards. The judges recognised that ATKV Goudini Spa sets a good example of creating an accessible leisure environment not only for people with mobility limitations, but also people who are blind and deaf.  The resort’s relationship with the disabled community is admirable.  And the affordability of the product is especially important for a people who are burdened by significant financial constraints.   Similarly, Flamingo Tours caters for a wide spectrum of functional limitations, and like ATKV Goudini Spa, is very committed to run an operation that does not harm the environment.”


Best for Poverty Reduction

Gold Winner: !Xaus Lodge
“The judges were particularly pleased to see so many worthy entries on the longlist for this category, as in the World Awards, competition is tough. More and more businesses understand the importance of using tourism to address poverty, in the Awards more emphasis is now being placed on the evidence which businesses can provide of their positive impacts. The Gold Award went to !Xaus Lodge a community-owned, commercially managed lodge in the South African part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The judges were particularly impressed by both the scale of the contribution and the transparent quantification of the economic and social benefits flowing to the economically poor and marginalized communities of the Khomani San and Mier from their lodge.”

Silver WinnersChitabe Camp & Sani Lodge Backpackers and Drakensberg Adventures & Simien Lodge
“There were three Silver Awards reflecting the strength of the longlist in this category. Chitabe Camp in the Okavango Delta was recognised for its commitment to raising the living standards of their employees to ensure that their whole family is raised out of poverty through higher than inflation annual salary increases, annual school education donations and generous profit share pay outs. Sani Lodge Backpackers and Drakensberg Adventures has made a major contribution to local livelihoods and poverty reduction over many years and by involving Basotho stakeholders created opportunities  for communities to proudly showcase their unique cultural practices, engaging with guests in an authentic manner, thereby earning their respect. The Simien Lodge in the remote Simien Mountains National Park of Ethiopia has adopted a broad approach to addressing poverty by improving livelihood standards and education, by encouraging creativity in sports and contributing to the conservation of cultural and natural heritage, consistently addressing local issues identified by the community.”


Best Accommodation for Responsible Employment

Gold Winner:  Spier
“The judges were looking for examples of businesses able to demonstrate an exemplary responsible approach to the employment and treatment of staff. This was a strong longlist reflecting the progress being made in raising employment standards by an increasing number of businesses. The Gold went to Spier in the Western Cape of South Africa for the transparent reporting and the breadth of their approach to improving the employment conditions of their staff ranging from addressing the issue of safety on public transport to their provision of Individual Learning Spend budgets to support the development of skills and knowledge, for personal development and innovation for the employee and their family for example by using it to pay school fees.”

Silver WinnersChobe Game Lodge & Leriba Hotel
“Silver Awards went to Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana and Leriba Hotel in Gauteng, South Africa. The judges were impressed by the breadth of the approach being taken to improving employment conditions of the staff at Chobe Game Lodge and in particular by their success in addressing gender issues, with a full team of 14 female guides. At Leriba Hotel & Spa there is a broad commitment to upliftment, training and recognition. The Green Diamonds initiative was created when Leriba Hotel Group identified the need to empower its employees above the standard legal requirements. The judges were particularly impressed by their ABET centre which provides continuous staff development training.”


Best Responsible Tourism Marketing Campaign

Gold Winner: Great Plains Conservation
“In the Marketing Campaign category the judges looked for an example of a company which had run a successful campaign. The judges gave the Gold Award to Great Plains Conservation operating in Botswana and Kenya for their success in raising awareness of the importance of conservation through traditional and social media and in converting the public into ambassadors for wildlife. In just one talk in 2015 in China the Jouberts reached 195 million and Great Plains Conservation’s social media channels are followed by over 1.5 million daily.

There were businesses on the longlist which use Responsible Tourism well in their marketing but there were none to which a Silver could be awarded for a particular campaign.”


Best for Public Policy and/or Support

Gold winner:  National Department of Tourism, South Africa
“It is 20 years since the new post-apartheid government in South Africa adopted Responsible Tourism as a fundamental part of its national tourism strategy recognising that tourism has a responsibility to make a significant contribution to making South Africa a better place to live in and uplifting the quality of life, particularly of the disadvantaged and economically poor. This was recognised in the Cape Town Declaration of 2002 which launched the Responsible Tourism movement internationally. This Public Sector Policy category was designed to focus attention on those government agencies which have adopted clear policy frameworks to encourage tourism businesses to take more responsibility – we placed less emphasis on “support” because tourism businesses too often look for financial incentives or subsidies. In a period when, internationally, governments generally have been reluctant to regulate, progress in securing private sector engagement and compliance has been slow although some businesses have contributed a great deal, many have failed to respond to the challenge.

The National Department of Tourism in South Africa won Gold for its steadfast commitment over 20 years to the principles of the 1996 white paper, the legislative and policy work and support programmes which have flowed from it, including the Responsible Tourism Standard, Tourism Incentive Programme and the adoption and application of Responsible Tourism principles by provinces and cities and by agencies like SANParks.”

Silver winners: City of Cape Town & Ministry of Tourism, Morocco
Silver went to the City of Cape Town and Morocco. The 1st International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations took place in Cape Town in 2002 and there have been many initiatives to encourage businesses to respond to the social, economic and environmental challenges experienced in the City. In Morocco the Ministry of Tourism has secured support from other government departments, local authorities and the private sector for its Vision 2020. Based on a multi-stakeholder process, using UNEP’s Sustainable Consumption and Production approach, the Ministry of Tourism has taken the lead and created the policy framework – it remains to be seen how the industry responds.

Best for Wildlife Conservation

Joint Gold Winners Mara Naboisho Conservancy & Ol Pejeta Conservancy
“The Wildlife Conservation category had a very strong range of initiatives on the longlist many of them outstanding. This year the judges focussed on wildlife conservation initiatives which use tourism to benefit local communities and to conserve wildlife rather than on tourism businesses which contribute to conservation. There were two Gold Award winners in the category both in Kenya and both conservancies:  Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Mara Naboisho Conservancy.

The judges recognised that these are two outstanding examples of how tourism can be used by conservationists to protect habits and species and to uplift local communities. The Mara Naboisho Conservancy has increased lion density and providing 142 jobs, secure income to 554 local Maasai households and further indirect benefits to ~10,000 local people. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy still maintains a herd of 6,000 beef cattle, it is one of the few conservancies in the world able to cover almost all of its basic operating costs (US$ 6 million) through its own, sustainable, commercially generated revenues from tourism and agriculture.”

Silver WinnerConservation Travel Foundation
“Silver went to the Conservation Travel Foundation, a non-profit organization in partnership with and supported by Ultimate Safaris in Namibia for its innovative Conservation Safaris where guests pay a premium in exchange for the privilege of being able to interact with those involved in local conservation projects, and get satisfaction from making a significant contribution to conservation.”


People’s Choice in Responsible Tourism

Winner: Marine Dynamics

“Voted for entirely by the public, the People’s Choice in Responsible Tourism Award allows members of the public to vote for the most inspiring category winner from 2015. Winner Marine Dynamics provide very high quality shark cage diving experiences. They are industry leaders, a commercial operation which operates to the highest conservation standards, where every trip has a marine biologist aboard to provide interpretation and collect data for scientific research. An operator that makes a significant contribution to conservation and the local economy.”


For more information on the African Responsible Tourism Awards and the sponsors visit

For the list of Finalists go to






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Restaurant abolishes “charity style” tipping

Bjorn van der Horst and Omar Romero plan to pay a flat salary they open Kojawan in London’s Edgware later this year. By banning the addition of tips to bills paid by card Horst & Romero intend to bring back the idea that working front of house is a vocation. With the flat wage plus cash tips staff at the Kojawan Korean-Japanese restaurant will be able to earn a competitive London wage.

You don’t have to feel obliged to give a tip. They are fairly paid. You will not be able to leave tips with a card, because then we’d have to create some system for that pot.
Will it make the food more expensive? Yes – we are making the entire dish worth it for everybody.”

 “We owe it to our hospitality industry workforce to give them the opportunity to be equal members of the skilled working class. Not through a charity-style tips system but through a true, respectful salary based on the skill set and performance of a professional doing their job.”

 Source Evening Standard 2016 02 24

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Mumbai imposes “no-selfie” zones


Since 2014, worldwide, there have been 49 known fatalities of people in pursuit of the perfect self-portrait, 19 of them in India.

The police in Mumbai has brought in a ban on selfies in 16 zones across the city after a rise in deaths related to people taking photos of themselves. BBC CNN


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New shipping routes through the Arctic?

Arctic - Potential Routes_0

New data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggest that January of 2016 was, for the globe, a truly extraordinary month. Coming off the hottest year ever recorded (2015), January saw the greatest departure from average of any month on record, according to data provided by NASA.

The record breaking heat wasn’t uniformly distributed — it was particularly pronounced at the top of the world, showing temperature anomalies above 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 1951 to 1980 average in this region.

Read more in the Washington Post

Will The Arctic Be The World’s New Economic Hotspot?

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Discretionary spend squeezed in London

The Resolution Foundation reports that household incomes are, on average, 2.9% higher than before the financial crash in 2008.  Greater discretionary spend available for expenditure on travel and tourism?

No. When the costs of housing are factored in living standards in London have fallen by 3.9% since 2008.

The Resolution Foundation calculates that nationally median income is roughly 3 per cent higher than in 2007-08, standing at around £24,300.


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Significant changes in current UK Outbound bookings

I blogged recently about the challenge of resilience for businesses in tourism.

“Business as Usual” is going to get a lot more difficult for tourism – our world is hotting up

ABTA has reported that bookings to safe destinations are surging with year on year

Spain up 27%, Portugal up 32%, Cyprus up 14% and Malta up 15%

ABTA told the Times that “increased global insecurity has led people to head for tried-and-trusted places, principally which they have been to before, mainly in the western Mediterranean”

Meanwhile in Turkey hundreds of hotels are up for sale. 

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2015 the hottest year on record – doesn’t make the headlines

2015 was the first full year to break the 1C barrier above pre-industrial levels – a key benchmark for warming

UK Met Office figures show that 2015 was 0.75C warmer than the long-term average between 1961-1990. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a US federal agency, 2015 is the fourth time an annual global temperature has been set this century. 2015 also saw record high temperatures for 10 months, with five months showing the highest departure from the average of any month on record.

TempGo to the graphic and watch the average temperature rise relentlessly year after year play

“There is no evidence that [the] warming trend has slowed, paused, or hiatused at any point in the last few decades.” Gavin Schmidt, Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Climate change deniers will be out in force blaming El Nino but as Prof Katharine Hayhoe, director of the climate science centre at Texas Tech University has pointed out  “The reason that 2015 has not just broken the record but has blown past it is because we are seeing a long-term temperature trend interact with the strongest El Niño of our generation. … What we have this year is the long-term rate of change with an extra spike of El Niño on top,”

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A warm and wet winter in Europe

Deserted slopes and empty ski lifts resulted in sales of ski packages in Europe slumped by 20% in December resulting in heavy discounting.

Just before Christmas Alpine ski resorts desperate to open after the warmest December on record in France. The Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise resort in Savoie used helicopters to transport 100 tonnes of snow to the slopes part of the 100,000 cubic metres of snow produced by water cannon. 120,000 people work in the French ski industry, only 40% of seasonal workers in resorts  have foudn employment this year and there are reports in the French media that in some resorts staff have accepted a 30% cut in in working time and pay.

Herve Billard of the Rhone-Alpes Federation for the Protection of Nature described the use of helicopters as an ‘ecological disaster’.

Scotland, Wales and the north-west of England all had the wettest December in more than a century producing a UK mean temperature of 8C (46F).


Times on flooding: “Whether induced by climate change or not, patterns are unmistakeable”

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Today is the Winter Solstice

Today is the winter solstice. 2015 is a deviant year – the  shortest day of the year traditionally falls on 21st December but it is a day later this year, the foibles of man’s calendars. Its all to do with the fact that our calendar work on 365 days, whereas the  earth’s orbit around the sun takes 365.5 days, the sun will set at 15:54 today, just under eight hours of daylight in the UK. In the Northern Hemisphere winter begins today – as I write this it is 13.3C – and last night the lowest temperature was in Faversham was 12.3C.

For an explanation of the mechanics of our bit of the universe link

Winter “ain’t what it used to be.” We’ll see what January and February bring.

I am reminded, by a friend, of the one of the alternative lyrics of Winter Wonderland

“When chapel bells are ringin’ all around

And later on we’ll conspire
As we dream by the fire
We’ll face unafraid, the plans that we’ve made
Walking in a winter wonderland

Later on we’ll conspire
As we dream by the fire
We’ll face unafraid, the plans that we’ve made
Walking in a winter wonderland
Yeah, we’ll face unafraid, the plans that we’ve made
Walking in a winter wonderland”


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Harold Goodwin