Since Sunday I have been the at HICA Conference at the Hilton in Johannesburg � Adama Bah and Paul Miedema both winners of Responsible Tourism Awards; Heidi Keyser one of our ICRT Associates and Marc Myers and Bongani Dlamini both members of the alumni were all there. Marc Myers now has a development role with Intrepid and Bongani is marketing manager with the Swaziland Tourism Board. Murray Simpson who did the MSc at Greenwich and went on to do a PhD in the Geography Department at Oxford presented on climate change. It was good to have time to spend with old friends and a host of others who I have worked with in South Africa over the last 9 years.
I have had a crash course in the hotel development process, it is clear that no one is able to take responsibility for the design of hotels � all too often the owner determines the priorities for the design, rarely do they plan to own it for long enough for environmentally friendly design to pay off. Electricity and water are still too cheap for the owners to be concerned about the costs � and they pay the planners and architects. In the Hilton, in Sandton, electricity (well in reality coal) was burnt to reduce the temperature way too low � causing people to shiver and acquire sore throats and it was not possible to switch off the outdoor balcony lights blazing away in bright sunshine.
Research undertaken for the conference suggests that the return on investment on equivalent hotels in South Africa is twice what it is Europe � hoteliers apparently are making money so fast they don�t need to reduce their costs. Regulation is required.
There were sessions on Sunday on Responsible Tourism covering local economic linkages, travel philanthropy and climate change. The Tourism Business Council of South Africa and SATSA are beginning to adopt Responsible Tourism approaches and to promote them to their members � there is much more to be done but the movement is gathering practitioners and pace.
is a remarkable place to live, a small town with a strong sense of community
and rich in history. For years I have hovered in station bookshops, whiling
away time waiting for trains, checking that Faversham has not been written up
too enthusiastically in the latest guidebooks; so far so good.
is situated between the old Roman road, the A2, between London
and Canterbury and on to Dover. Many people who think they�ve been to
Faversham have not seen the fine market square and guildhall or arguably one of
the finest streets of diverse vernacular architecture in the UK. Only during
the Hop Festival do you find more non-local than locals in the streets and
Faversham has a rich programme of street events throughout the summer months
with Open House and Secret Garden Festivals. See www.faversham.org but don�t tell too many
people about it.
my concern when Kent
on Sunday (07 Sept 2008) carried the following
Carter, editor of the Guide, was impressed by Kent's cuisine. She said
“reporters to the Good Food Guide have identified an area, not a town, as
the gastronomic hot spot.
rough triangle encompassing Canterbury,
Whitstable and Faversham in East Kent has
lured quality chefs, drawn by the high quality Kentish meat, fish, vegetables
and fruits. Is this east Kent
triangle the new Ludlow?”
and Marches Food and Drink Festival held two weekends after the Faversham Hop
Festival every September has been an addiction for Kate and me for years � we
enjoy the food culture and spending time with other enthusiasts � but most of
all it is about meeting the producers and sharing their enthusiasm. It beats
shopping in Tesco.
So the editor of The Good Food Guide thinks Faversham may be
part of a gastronomic hot spot � that will increase the trade for local
restaurants and food producers, and we have some real gems, that�s the good
Of course I favour more prosperous local businesses; they
are small businesses, owner managed, and
employing local people. But I shall loose the option of deciding to eat out on
an impulse � I�ll need to book.
The Evening with networking event at the
Vintry provided an opportunity to discuss the Kerala Declaration. Krippendorf�s
major contribution was to recognise that it was by appealing to people�s sense
of responsibility that positive change would be achieved rather than by
emancipation. Rebellious tourists and rebellious locals do make a difference
and in an age when government is reluctant to regulate encouraging tourists,
originating market tour operators and local communities and the inbound
industry to act (to rebel)becomes the
main strategy for achieving change.
Kerala brought together 503 delegates from 29 countries to
share experience of implementing the principle of the Cape Town Declaration and
to review progress. There was a lot of energy in the conference and in the
events and activities which Kerala Tourism had organised to create
opportunities for learning, engagement and debate.
The Kerala Declaration was debated line by line on
the floor of the conference � there were 300 still actively participating as
the declaration was signed 6 hours later. There was lots of energy, engagement
and enthusiasm focussed on sharing experience about making change with sections
in issues and strategies like empowerment, social and economic development, the
role of the media, governance, campaigning �.. lots of good ideas and some
We avoided the trap of redefining the generic
characteristics of responsible tourism in destinations, reasserting the Cape Town
Declarationrecognising that the specifics will reflect differences
of culture, history and geography � the world is a diverse and interesting
place. The strategies and detail in Kerala, The Gambia and South Africa
are different � they reflect the diversity of the places, but they share the
principles of the Cape Town Declaration.
We saw the progress being made in Kerala, particularly in
local economic development, and the activity in local and state government, in
local communities and in the industry well � in Belize in May 2009 we hope to hear
a progress report. Responsible Tourism is about stakeholders working together �to
make better places to live and better places to visit.�
IATA reports today that it expects airlines to make losses
of $9.3bn over the next three years, at �5.2bn significantly less than the
Olympics (�9.3bn) � but then the Olympics are arguably an investment. IATA
points to the �toxic combination� of high fuel costs and reduced demand caused
by the recession. 25 airlines have gone out of business since January. However,
the �toxic combination� has so far only caused a decline in growth, in July the rise in global passenger numbers
was the lowest for five years. It may be that rising fuel prices and the
recession caused in part by other shortages will stem the growth of air travel
and GHG emissions � but we are still only talking about declining growth not
British Airways announced yesterday that it carried 100,000
fewer passengers in August, with its short haul flights particularly badly hit.
Perhaps shortages and consequent price inflation and currency devaluations will
achieve what public policy has failed to do: reduce GHG emissions form aviation.
Bit I doubt it will be enough.
The airline crisis got a mention on the front page of The
Guardian � on page 9 Ryan Air announced a winter sale 6 million seats at �10
one way (including taxes) � what chance rail?
Meanwhile a story about a 19 sq mile piece of the Markham ice shelf in Canada�s
Arctic breaking off from Ellesmere Island got
2 column inches on page 7 of the Metro [it is on the BBC website at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7595441.stm]
I took a staycation
this year, I spent August in Faversham � I had planned to daytrip and enjoy Kent. I did,
but I didn�t go far. With visitors coming to stay I found myself as guide
rediscovering the place where I am rooted, relishing its past and thinking
about its future. In St Mary�s, the parish church which I watch, as the seasons
change, from my study window, we have one remnant of the medieval frescoes
which before the Puritans would have covered the whole interior. We have that
remnant fresco because some individuals were brave enough not to scrape off the
frescoes before whitewashing the pillars.
Staycation, the word is ugly an Americanism, a contraction
meaning a stay-at-home-vacation. No English alternative has yet emerged. An
opportunity to rediscover people and place to see your place, your home, as
visitors see it. Inviting friends to stay
ensures that in showing them around your rediscover what makes your place
special � a function of landscape, the vernacular architecture and most
important the people. Being on the receiving end of VFR turns the tables the
�holidaymaker enjoying their staycation becomes host and guide and to take
extended leisure where they might otherwise work � well that�s the case for
Will the staycation catch on � obviously a lot of people tried
it this year as consequence of the economic downturn and because it is the only
way you can avoid the congestion on the roads and railways and the misery of
Heathrow or Gatwick.
The weather drives us
There is one obvious problem for those of us for whom the UK is
home. Climate change and global warming is not proving us with those good
summers some anticipated. We live on islands with weather coming off the Atlantic and that means that increased rain fall and
cloud cover, rain and the absence of sunshine are characterising our summer
climate. Extreme weather is becoming a more common occurrence.
August 2008 has been the sixth wettest August since 1912,
and with one third less sunshine � in Kent we hardly
saw blue sky. The 30�C barrier was breached only twice. As an autumn sets in
the tour operators are reporting Mediterranean bookings up by as much 150% year
on year. UK
resorts were reported to be busier than usual this year. Lastminute.com and
reposnsibletravel.com both reported higher domestic UK sales this year.
Counting the cost of
The main drivers of the staycation were the credit crunch
and concerns about the impact of inflation in food and energy costs and
declining property values on people�s disposable incomes. It was the actual
rather than the ethical cost of travel which restrained us.
The annual holiday is for affluent consumers one of three
big budget item purchases; moving, the annual holiday and the new car. The housing
market is falling and in August new car purchases were at their lowest level
since 1996 an 18.6% decline year on year, gas guzzling Land Rover sales were
down 58% and Aston Martins down 67%.The
number of people putting money into private pensions declined by 1m to 7m,
there will be fewer British affluent retired cruising in the future. Whitbread
reports that sales are booming at its budget chain Premier Hotels, like-for-like
sales up 10.2% and Whitbread plans to open a further 4,000 rooms, not
surprising with its revenue PAR up 5.8%. Travelodge launched a credit crunch
sale with rooms at �9 per night The Guardian reports that organic food sales
had shrunk from �100m a month to �81m. These are turbulent times as disposable
incomes shrink and the value of the � falls.
Protourisme reports that booked nights are only down 2% in France
(although that compares with steady year on year growth of 3% in recent years);
holidays are being booked later, sales in bars and restaurants are reported to
be down 10 to 30%. Spain
reports an 8% drop in the number of foreign visitors year-on-year in July.
UK consumers are going to feel substantially less well off, food and fuel inflation will reduce our standard of living but wetter summers, a likley consequence of climate change, may perversely maintain or increase our predisposition to jet off to the sun.