I was a �tourist� in York this weekend, staying away from
home in the city where I was an undergraduate, and still there are firsts.
In Stonegate a small doorway invites visitors, shoppers,
locals and tourists alike, down a ginnel into a tiny secret Secret Garden, a charming escape from
the crowds shopping in the misty autumnal grey of November.
Annie Austen-Meek, the inventor and crafter of the softpots shares
her skills with Caroline and me; and I find myself playing with compost making a
fabric plant container and having fun.
The plants grow normally, absorbing ground and rain water
like a sponge, the soft containers moulded to the shape of the root ball.
Softpots use recycled material and can green a small
Annie is right: �You�ll
discover a certain magic happen when you make a softpot � it is you welding the
earth, the plant and your own creative spirit into one, making a living
creation that is as unique and individual as you are.�
You can find Annie�s Secret Garden at 35 Stonegate � it is
exotic, it�s fun, it�s infectious.
I enjoyed it � you probably would too.
Below is photograph of Caroline Warburton with Annie Austen-Meek and the two softpots Caroline and I made.
Take a look at Annie's website www.softpots.org
At a conference in Portugal the two organisations which have been using different definitions of Geotourism have agreed the Arouca Declaration, which includes the following:
National Geographic Society News posting: http://bit.ly/sbZ5oz
and Center for Sustainable Destinations � National Geographic Society posting:
http://bit.ly/uLLr1b with downloadable copies of the full Declaration in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
This year's WTM World Responsible Tourism Day programme was
the most successful to date stretching over three days. So successful that some
of those who wanted to attend sessions were unable to do so, there were people
standing along the walls and sitting in the aisles. Regrettably there aren�t larger rooms
The objective of the programme is to educate, inspire and to
challenge the industry to take responsibility for making tourism more sustainable,
this year there was a little more challenging, a little more controversy. The
panels on all inclusives and the debate about who profits from tourism generated
were designed to challenge; they generated more light than heat.
The session on Progress in Responsible Tourism was packed to
hear four speakers, with very different perspectives, reflect on how far we
have come, and how far we have to go. to make tourism more sustainable. Taleb
Rifai, Secretary General of UNWTO, talked about some of the global trends and
the importance of ethics, Ruth Holroyd spoke about what Thomas Cook is doing to
address the challenge of sustainability across the triple bottom line; Heidi
Keyser spoke about progress in Responsible Tourism in South Africa and Michael
Horton spoke of the challenge of ensuring that visits to orphanages in Cambodia
do not encourage the purchase of children to stock the orphanages. Michael�s
powerful presentation has stimulated a campaign.
We seek to inspire too. This year the WTMWRTD video focussed
on the local impacts of Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Gambia, Costa
Rica, Indonesia and Just a Drop around the world. Thanks to sponsorship from
the Commonwealth Secretariat for the first time we had a local community leader,
Ms Dhanya M R, the President of the Kumarakam Panchayat, speak at the session
on Making Destinations More Sustainable. We focussed on Egypt, Kerala and Sri
Lanka. Ms Dhanya M R spoke eloquently about how the Kerala Responsible Tourism initiative
engaged the whole community:
�The entire local community
except few exceptions welcomed this changed situation and responded positively.
There were number of initiatives from the local community in group farming, homestead
farming, formation of ethnic restaurants, cultural group, handicraft units,
ecobag units, reacting against environmental issues etc. The responsible
tourism initiative provides additional income to more than 1000 families in the
panchayat. More than that, it helped in creating a very healthy relationship
between the Community, Local Panchayat and the tourism industry.�
The sessions on the Business Case for Ensuring Access for
All, the Role of Government, Tourism Jobs, CSR in Meetings and Hospitality,
Securing Commercial Advantage form Responsible Tourism through Marketing and Managing Tourism at
World Heritage Sites enabled participants to share best practice and the audience
to learn from some of the leading practitioners.
You can find most of the PowerPoint presentations, some audio
recordings and videos on WTMWRTD 2011 legacy page www.artyforum.info/wtmwrtd2011.html
Back in November 2009 at an event organised by the Alliance
of Religions and Conservation commitments were made to greening pilgrimage
cities and routes. The Armenian Orthodox Church, proposed a seven Year Plan to
green the holy city of Etchmiadzin; the Muslims announced a plan for a network
of Al-Kher cities (cities which are �beneficial, wonderful and beautiful�) and
that Medina in Saudi Arabia would become a Green Pilgrim City alongside nine
other Muslim cities; the Jewish Seven Year Plan proposes greening Jerusalem so
that a place that is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims around the world becomes
a model of sustainability.
November 2011 at Assisi, a pilot green pilgrimage place the Green Pilgrimage
Network was launched. The green pilgrimage handbook is available on line
The Network will inspire Pilgrims to:
for their pilgrimage…
in the spirit of their faith…
eat and drink
sustainably and ethically…
dispose of their
rubbish… and pick up after others…
support a fund to
green the city they are visiting…
ideas for living home with them…
The Network will inspire Pilgrim Cities to:
accommodate pilgrim visitors sustainably…
religious buildings, energy and infrastructure …
wildlife and parks…
create a green pilgrim fund…
maps�, highlighting the environmental projects,
opportunities for volunteering in their cities…
bring faiths and
local authorities together to create sustainable cities…
accessible drinking water …
for pilgrim routes…
work with tour
operators, airlines and other transport providers to provide carbon neutral
living habits among their own population…
publicise their status as Green Pilgrim
pilgrims and green their faith festivals …
work with, and
support, each other in greening initiatives…
Green Pilgrimage Network to launch in