1st Indian Responsible Tourism Awards     Announced 19th January 2017


The India Responsible Tourism Awards are part of the World Responsible Tourism Awards family which in addition to the global awards and India includes awards programmes in Ireland and Africa. The family of awards share the same processes and criteria. Each nominated business or tourism organisation makes a short submission which answers the fundamental question, what is it that you have done that warrants consideration for the particular award? From these nominations a longlist is drawn up, and a detailed questionnaire specific to each category is sent to each entrant. The questionnaires require that detailed evidence is provided along with two independent references. At this stage some applicants withdraw daunted by the information required. Others withdraw recognising that they are not perhaps as responsible as they thought. Two judges look at each of the categories, analysing the questionnaires and supporting data, checking websites and references and report to the full panel of judges, on judging day, on their shortlist, informed by the questionnaires and the references. The final judging takes the better part of a whole day and there is open debate and challenge around the table. These are tough awards to win.

The ambition of the Awards is to surprise and inspire the tourism industry and tourists by what it is possible to achieve with responsible tourism. We also want to challenge the sector, the competitors of the winners, to do more – competition can drive the adoption of better practices. The judging criteria are common across the whole family of Awards.

  1. Quantifying achievements
  • is a priority
  • look also for clear methodologies for measurement and improvement
  1. Being a good influence
  • must both do good work themselves & use their influence to ensure that their suppliers do too
  1. Previous winners
    have real improvements on previous years been made?
  • progress is essential to ensure Awards are dynamic
  1. New and innovative
  • is genuinely a new approach or something different
  • stands out from the crowd
  1. Real impact on poverty reduction
  • better quality of life overall
  • linkages with community members
  1. Sustainability of enterprise/initiative
    longevity and sustainability of the project.
  • replicability
  1. Customer service experience
  • delivers excellent customer service, with educational opportunities to learn about the destination, its people and environment
  • responsible tourism ethos & achievements communicated clearly & easily accessible via website/social media
  1. References
  • minimum of 2 independent references
  • gives evidence in support of an application for a specific category
  • is written by a range of credible referees
  • vary in length


The panel of judges is chosen for their breadth of experience and their independence of mind – the winners are debated. Many of the candidates are known to one or more of the judges, interests are declared, they can engage in the debate and are often questioned by other judges – but they cannot vote.


Harold Goodwin (Chair of the Panel), Emeritus Professor, Director, International Centre for Responsible Tourism; MD, Responsible Tourism Partnership, and RT Advisor, WTM London
Ananda Banerjee Author and award winning wildlife conservation journalist
Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism
Steve Borgia Honorary President, Eco-tourism Society of India
Emma Horne Founder, Emma Horne Travel
Jaya Jaitly Founder & President, Dastkari Haat Samiti|
Akhil Kapoor Convivium Leader, Slow Food India (Delhi Chapter)
Sheema Mookherjee former Publisher Lonely Planet India and Proprietor, Salban – The Kanha Homestay
Ratish Nanda Projects Director, Aga Khan Trust for Culture, India
Aman Nath Chairman, Neemrana Hotels
CB Ramkumar Board Member, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, and Founder-MD, Our Native Village
Dr Venu Vasudevan, Principle Secretary, Kerala Tourism
Belinda Wright Executive Director, Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) and Proprietor, Kipling Camp


Best Responsible Tourism Property

Gold Winner: Farm of Happiness or ‘Aanandache Shet’ www.farmofhappiness.com

The concept is simple, a homestay on a 20 acre organic farm. Tourism is an additional income stream for the farm, a farm diversification, a way of bringing attention and some

glamour to agriculture, providing an introduction to the concept of natural farming and eating consciously; a way of providing an authentic taste of rural life for an urban population which has lost connection with the land. The judges were impressed by the way in which the ethic of responsibility informs all of their practices and its impact in engaging with urban youth and local youth who see a more promising future in agrotourism and organic farming. The organic practices on the farm, the traditional stay facility, the ‘no-alcohol’ policy, the hard core local cuisine are steps towards using tourism to encourage locals and tourists alike to be guardians of their environment and the local culture.

Silver Winner: Atali Ganga www.ataliganga.com
The Aqua Terra Alternative Lifestyle Initiative (Atali) is an activotel with stunning views of the Ganga, a destination which combines smart accommodation with safe adventure. They source locally, have used local stone to construct the property, minimise water consumption, carefully manage waste, employ only from the Indian Himalaya regions, contribute to local schools and provide pre-arrival guidelines for guests to avoid any embarrassment caused by behaviour, dress or conduct.

Silver Winner: Dewalokam http://dewalokam.in/
An organic farm with ayurvedic herbals and a variety of native fruit plants. Dewalokam offers an experience of rural village life as the guests of the Dewalokam staff (7women and 11men) from 16 different families in the village, all of whom benefit from the enterprise.

Best Contribution to Wildlife Conservation

Gold Winner & Joint Overall Winner:
Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust
The snow leopard is a red list globally endangered species with between 200 and 600 individuals thought to occur in the higher reaches of the Himalayas encompassing the northern areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. The judges were impressed by its Himalayan Homestay initiative which creates livelihoods for local people, offsetting and compensating livestock losses, increasing the stake of local people in conserving wildlife through wildlife tourism, reduce human wildlife conflict and promoting coexistence, reversing a centuries old tradition of hunting snow leopards and wolves.

Since 2002 over 130 families have been trained to offer 165 homestays in 40 villages across Ladakh. . There are eco-cafes in 9 villages, selling local food products, and handicraft programs  in 32 villages, in which rural women are trained in making soft toy-animals, which the homestay visitors take home as souvenirs. The Trust also promotes ‘voluntourism’, where homestay operators host volunteers working on Trust conservation programs in the villages. 10% of all homestay income goes into village conservation funds used by villagers for tree planting, garbage cleaning and maintenance of their cultural heritage such as mani walls, chortens and sacred juniper stands. Ulley and surrounding villages voluntarily freed 16 sq miles from livestock grazing for the betterment of traditional pastureland for the endangered Ladakh urial and Asiatic ibex. The Trust has sought to maintain traditional Ladakhi values, particularly by serving Ladakhi food to guests and by housing guests in existing traditional rooms of Ladakhi houses rather than constructing new dwellings, contributing to maintaining a living culture. The model is being considered for replication in five countries.

Silver Winner: Madras Crocodile Bank Trust & Centre for Herpetology (Croc Bank) www.madrascrocodilebank.org

Snakes and reptiles have traditionally been killed on sight. The Croc Bank consists of a large reptile park near Chennai and several field projects run by the Trust all designed to conserve reptiles and amphibians including crocodiles and snakes. The reptile park functions as a zoo, spread over eight and a half acres of land, with over 2500 reptiles, it has close to half a million visitors/year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions on the East Coast Road. The work of the Trust is largely funded by revenues from their zoo, the zoo furthers the Trust’s awareness and behaviour change work through education delivered throughout the zoo – this is conservation funded by a tourist attraction.

Best for Cultural Immersion

Gold Winner: The Blue Yonder  http://theblueyonder.com

The company was launched to promote the River Nila in Kerala as a destination. Blue Yonder has used the rich cultural heritage of the valley to bring visitors to celebrate the river, enhance local pride in the river and the people who live along it, and to create sustainable livelihoods. Each initiative is designed to be sustainable with local demand, tourism increases earning capacity and brings recognition. The musical trail started in 2004 with 4 beneficiaries, it now supports 850+ students and more than 15 teachers, while offering varied experiences to travellers. All the travel experiences offered are developed through community consultation and co-creation. “The sense of ownership and responsibility on each travel experiences make all the difference in terms of delivery and interaction with the travel community.”

Silver Winner: Rural Pleasure www.ruralpleasure.com

Rural Pleasure is a social enterprise which delivers hands on experience of village level activities: ploughing, seeding, picking fruits & vegetables, crop harvesting, tribal dancing & paintings, swimming in the river, milking cattle, bullock cart rides, village trails, cutting wood, mud flooring, fishing, forest hikes. They encourage tourists to participate in the chores of villagers which give them an insight into their values, customs, culture, behaviour, attitude and lifestyle. Livelihoods are generated for villagers through the provision of lodging and board, guiding, housekeeping, performances by local artists and the sale of art, craft and agricultural produce. In Dangs, Warli Art was in decline but young people are now practicing it. Seven houses have been decorated with Warli Art, more than 750 travellers has been immersed in cultural activity and the tribes have earned close to Rs98,000.

Best for Community-based Homestay

Gold Winner: Biksthang Heritage Farmhouse www.biksthang.com

Biksthang is an ancestral 18th century house which has been developed by the family into a “destination”, bringing tourists to a remote and undeveloped village. The aim was to preserve the legacy of an ancestral property, restore the dying agricultural heritage and give visitors a genuinely authentic  experience of the rich culture, tradition, history and cuisine of west Sikkim. Biksthang is leveraging the cultural assets of the village and rural area to create sustainable livelihoods though local sourcing for the homestay, handicraft sales to tourists, guiding and transport services. The ambition is to encourage young people to stay in the village and to see that there are opportunities for them there too. One of the referees wrote of the owner “Dekyi has effectively created a safe space for curious minds to learn about a disappearing legacy, immersed in nature, in spirituality, without compromising on authenticity and the freedom to choose how best to engage with it.”

Silver Winner: Daragaon Village Retreat, Gurung Homestay www.sikkimvillagehomestay.com/

This is a family owned and run homestay with seven rooms in Darap Village home to Limbu people originally from Tibet. The judges were impressed by the way in which the opening of one homestay offering a village and birdwatching experience has resulted in the formation of an association and the development of more locally owned homestays which has brought an additional income stream to the village, raising living standards.

Silver Winner: Kabani Community Tourism  www.kabanitour.com

Kabani (the other direction) is a non-profit  community association which since 2005 has been opposing destructive mass tourism and promoting a model which benefits local communities and avoids most of the negative impacts. In 2014 they created a social enterprise to promote community tourism initiatives to create additional incomes for famers in order to help reduce farmer suicides. The judges were impressed by the way in which Kabani has worked with farmers, fisher folk and women entrepreneurs to create B&Bs in 8 villages involving 450 villagers.

Best Innovation by a Tour Operator

Gold Winner & Joint Overall Winner: Planet Abled  http://planetabled.com

The premise is simple people with disabilities also have an equal right to recreation, leisure and travel. Planet Abled is about converting specially-abled tourists into travellers and creating a platform for inclusive tourism, providing people with disabilities the freedom to travel India no matter what their disability is, to experience something unique, safe and enjoyable. Planet Abled works with people who face a wide variety of challenges, not just the visually impaired or wheelchair enabled, to enable them to holiday or travel with friends and family. They work to provide mainstream itineraries and to avoid the ghettoization of travel for people with disabilities.

Planet Abled focusses on the individual capabilities and active senses or its clients, the tour is customized for each and every individual so that they don’t miss out on anything and can have a whole experience of the new place or culture they are visiting with family and friends or alone.  Travelling in groups each traveller gains a first-hand experience of interacting with people with other disabilities and abilities, a blind person gets to interact with a deaf and mute person, a wheelchair user gets to understand the challenges facing a blind person. Planet Abled is creating an environment of inclusive tourism and spreading awareness amongst the volunteers who then become ambassadors for inclusion and accessibility in their respective communities.

As one of the referees wrote “The reason I keep going for as many Planet Abled tours as I can is that I am treated as truly equal. No discussion of disability, no hero-worship, no china doll treatment. I am just me…. everyone pays the same rate and these are competitive with the industry. I have shopped around and can testify to this. A heritage walk in the regular market costs Rs. 500 per head. The Planet Abled custom walk that I had them arrange for me, and some friends, cost the same. So, the traditional position where everything for the disabled is expensive is no longer valid”

Silver Winner: Grassroutes Journeys www.grassroutes.co.in

Grassroutes Journeys offers an experience of off-grid, rustic and authentic holidays with rural people and tribes an opportunity to experience age-old Indian traditions and lifestyles. Their objective is to reduce rural migration to cities, to conserve biodiversity, revive local arts and craft and change the aspirations of both the villagers and the guests. They work with 500 families in 10 villages and report a 30% increase in average annual household income for those families through 6,000-8,000 days of employment in the tribal villages in which they work.

Best Built Heritage Conservation

Gold Winner: Arco Iris http://arcoiris.in/

Arco Iris (“rainbow,” in Portuguese and Spanish) is a Colonial Portuguese Manor dating back two centuries, it had been abandoned for 40 years before being restored by a family from Bangalore   The original plan had been to create “a cosy holiday home for friends and family” realising that what they had created was too large for occasional visits, the family “relocated to Goa, turned our house into a boutique homestay and invited travellers from all around the globe to experience our very own cloud nine.” The judges were impressed by the way in which the decision to restore a ruin had resulted in a sustainable boutique homestay, tourism being used to maintain cultural heritage which otherwise would have been lost.


The India Responsible Tourism Awards will be organised again next year. If you think that your business or organisation is better than those awarded here remember that the judges can only select from amongst those that apply and who provide the evidence. If you can do better, or know others who do, then apply for next year’s Awards.  Contact soity@outlookindia.com

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Wild Atlantic Way and Overtourism

Fáilte Ireland is  doing a substantial amount of work monitoring the environmental impacts on the Wild Atlantic Way and they are beginning to look at the economic impacts.

Fáilte Ireland  recognises that there are significant congestion problems – both existing and emerging – at certain points and destinations along the Wild Atlantic Way and they are planning to tackle these in a systematic way with the relevant Local Authorities over the coming years. In some cases the solutions will be simple and in others they will be more complex.

Fáilte Ireland is recognising is that they are not tackling these issues to satisfy some external sustainability agenda, but rather to ensure the durability of the Wild Atlantic Way itself and to maintain its own ‘production capability’.

They are presently compiling the monitoring reports for 2016. These are aimed at focusing both Failte Ireland and the Local Authorities on the impacts that are taking place on the ground and the risks of unmanaged tourism – ‘over-tourism. Fáilte Ireland is talking to the Local Authorities about how to manage and mitigate the impacts that are identified – and avoid them in the future. It is intended to put in place a concerted system across all the Local Authorities for managing the unintended consequences of tourism arising from the Wild Atlantic Way. The 2015 monitoring results are available on line and the methodology is evolving.





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Does Volunteering in an Orphanage Create a Demand for Child Trafficking?

Australian legal scholar Kathryn E van Doore shares a summary of her recent article, “Paper orphans: Exploring child trafficking for the purpose of orphanages,” which appeared in the International Journal of Children’s Rights.

Kathryn writes:

“My research argues that the recruitment of children with biological families into orphanages for the purpose of orphanage tourism should be regarded as a form of child trafficking under international law. The reason that this has not been regarded as a form of child trafficking previously is because to meet the legal requirements of trafficking, the purpose of the act of recruitment must be exploitation. Exploitation is defined as, at a minimum, prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. Thus, the argument that recruiting a child into an orphanage is child trafficking has not been an easy fit, and has not been made legally until now.

I argue that the effects on children of orphanage tourism should be regarded as a form of exploitation. Whilst volunteering in an orphanage is usually regarded as an admirable activity, in fact it causes children a lot of harm. Children in orphanages are often trained to perform traditional dancing and forced to perform for visitors and volunteers. Some children are sent out to beg for funds in bars at night or hand out flyers advertising their orphanage.[13] Some orphanage operators have deliberately kept children malnourished to attract more sympathy and thus more money.[14] Even where orphanages are well run, over sixty years of research tells us that the very process of institutionalization is harmful to a child’s development.[15]

Orphans and orphanages have become a business in some developing nations. My argument is that like any business, the demand for the product, in this case, orphanage tourism, has driven the market. To satisfy the demand, children are taken from families with the promise of education or returning in the future, and manufactured or produced as paper orphans to reside in orphanages and solicit funding. The aim of my research is to illustrate that this unnecessary separation should be categorised as a form of trafficking, with the demand driver for such trafficking into orphanages being orphanage tourism.”

Read more 

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How should we understand Airbnb? Good or Bad?

The Airbnb consumer proposition is appealing to significant market segment, but by no means all. Garry Wilson Managing Director – Product & Purchasing, TUI Group pointed out at WTM this month that operators like TUI are in a different market place offering a different fully integrated product to consumers. Nathan Blecharczyk, one the founders of Airbnb, argues that the willingness of people to stay in the home of a stranger demonstrates the demand for personal connections while travelling and that Airbnb enables travellers to “experience a place like you live there”  What we’ve demonstrated is there’s an immense appetite to travel more authentically and immerse yourself in culture… as opposed to having a commoditised experience.. ” Airbnb offers a significantly differentiated product and they are extending that differentiation, bringing hosts and guests closer together: “….going for a bike ride on their favourite bike route or doing a game of Frisbee, something as simple as that …. connecting with real people having a good time, that’s something not currently available in the professionalised world of hospitality.” more

In November Airbnb launched Trips. Tourists will be able to create itineraries as well as book accommodation via the Trips upgrade to the Airbnb app. more 

This year’s Industry Report for WTM London included the results of a poll of 1,145 British holidaymakers, all of whom had taken at least a seven-day summer holiday overseas, or in the UK, in 2015. Only 12% of UK holidaymakers reported that they had used Airbnb and of those only 60% said that they would use it again. Of those who have not used it 30% have no intention of doing so. This does not suggest that Airbnb has been as disruptive as some commentators have suggested. more

From a resident’s perspective, it is more complicated.

The experience of a neighbouring homeowner or tenant having occasional house guests, whether they are paying for the privilege or not, is very different from living next to a licensed or unlicensed property wholly let for significant parts of the year – particularly if your neighbourhood is perceived as a great place to party. If the property is owned by a non-resident even the rental income will almost certainly not enter the local economy and it is highly unlikely to be taxed. Unlicensed property rentals are in some cities and resort areas a significant part of the black economy.

If you are running a business and successfully avoiding tax on your income you are likely to favour Airbnb as your route to market. As you are unlikely to be present at the same time as your paying guests you do not suffer the noise or the unruly behaviour experienced in areas like Barconeleta or Kreuzberg.

If you are a local person with noisy and disruptive neighbours you are likely to protest and demand that the local authorities act to protect the quality of your life in your neighbourhood – and ensure that the property owners who are making significant money from letting out whole properties are paying tax.

A resident may be more sympathetic to a neighbour who has friends to stay or paying guests. Your neighbour is there to ensure that their guests treat the shared neighbourhood and its residents with respect. Income earned from housing paying guests may enable people to pay the rent and stay in an area where housing costs are rising. If you like your neighbour and his or her guests are not disruptive, you are likely to be sympathetic.

However, if the number of people sub-letting in your neighbourhood is growing and if more and more properties are being wholly let for weeks at a time, with mounting levels of disruption and inflation in rental costs you are likely to be hostile.

Airbnb is growing fast and its “implied valuation at its most recent funding round was $30 billion; the market capitalization of Hilton Worldwide Holdings is $22 billion. Airbnb’s 2.3 million-room inventory is bigger than the three largest hotel chains — Hilton, Marriott International Inc. and InterContinental Hotels Group Plc — combined.” source

Cities are developing new forms of regulation to differentiate between whole property lets through Airbnb or other distribution channels and the occasional renting of spare rooms to guests to provide a supplementary income and help out with the rent – that is the sharing economy. Unlicensed properties rented out for large part of the year are not. These properties may or may not be licensed and if the owner is never or rarely resident there may be health and safety issues.

Cities will respond to regulate those renting out property through Airbnb in diverse ways, dealing with the issues which arise in particularly cities and neighbourhoods, planning, zoning, licensing, taxation, building regulations and a host of other regulation and management strategies are available and are likely to be deployed when issues arise. The major driving force in most cities is the housing shortage and rising rents.

Berlin: since May 2916 private tourism rentals are being limited by a new law Zweckentfremdungsverbot – prohibiting improper use. Homeowners are permitted to rent out only spare rooms rather than entire homes. more

Barcelona has fined homesharing websites Airbnb and Homeaway 600,000 euros ($633,600) each for advertising and renting out apartments to tourists without a license. Airbnb and Homeaway were identified as repeat offenders having illegally advertised 3,812 and 1,744 properties respectively. An additional nine rental sites are expected to also face fines up to 30,000 euros for failing to follow regional tourism laws. The Mayor argues that “It shouldn’t be possible that thousands of apartments are operating without a license, illegally, without paying tax and at the peril of neighboring residents,” Airbnb is appealing. more

Dublin:  there are reported to be 2,000 Dublin properties available on Airbnb’s website alone. Frank McDonald, chairman of Temple Bar Residents’ Association, cited one instance where a two-bedroom apartment advertised for sale through Daft.ie for €425,000 had a declared income of €79,000 through Airbnb in the previous year. Rising rents are making families homeless and the city is accommodating them in hotel rooms. “… if you look up the Daft.ie website, you will find that there’s only 1,200 to 1,300 apartments for letting to live in in the city at the moment. … And yet there’s well over 2,000 available for short-term holiday use. That is something that is, in my opinion, a deeply antisocial phenomenon at a time when the city has a housing crisis.” more

London: Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has raised the possibility of an ‘Airbnb law’ over “concerns” that the rental service may be affecting the availability of long-term rentals in the capital. In his letter to MPs, the Mayor  said that he “supports the right of people to benefit from renting out their homes for short periods” – but this “must be balanced against the need to ensure that Londoners are not adversely affected”. “If boroughs are finding that the legislation needs to be revisited to make sure that we find a better way of balancing the benefits of the sharing economy with the protection of local residents and the retention of housing for long-term use, then I will be happy to work with them and discuss with Government whether any changes may be needed.” more

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) claims that landlords are taking their flats off the open market, and advertising them instead on holiday websites like Airbnb. The RLA says 41% of properties advertised on Airbnb in the capital are multiple listings – involving one owner advertising several properties. “Given the pressures faced in the capital it is important that properties advertised as being available for more than 90 days a year are genuine holiday lets with appropriate planning permission,” said RLA policy director David Smith. “Otherwise, as well as taking rental stock off the market for those looking for somewhere to live, they are also putting tenants in a vulnerable position without all the protections offered by a tenancy agreement.” more


New York: Airbnb is contesting new legislation which would enable the state to fine people who advertise vacant apartments in a multi-unit building for 30 days or less. Fines could be as high as $7,500 for repeat offenders, threatening Airbnb’s operations in the state. Residents are allowed to rent out a room in their house or apartment as long as they are also staying there. more

San Francisco: Airbnb started in the city, there is now conflict between the city and Airbnb over enforcement with city moving to fine Airbnb for all the unregistered properties it markets. Airbnb denies that it should be responsible for checking that all the properties it lists are registered. more and the detail

Nathan Blecharczyk co-founder of Airbnb argues that it is part of the solution to rising rents because it helps make them affordable: “Airbnb can make it more affordable to have an apartment in London by making sure it’s fully utilised, whether renting your extra bedroom, or when you’re away on a trip and getting extra bucks to subsidise your rent.” more

Airbnb, good or bad? It depends on the circumstances and the ability of local authorities effectively to regulate.


WTM November 2016 Disintermediation and Destination Management   Video

The growth of budget scheduled airlines, Airbnb and a host of other intermediaries enabling travellers and holidaymakers to engage directly without the services of a tour operator or registered and regulated accommodation provider in the destination is the latest ‘revolution’ in travel. How much has really changed? What are the implications for hotel companies and registered accommodation providers? How can these tourists and new tourism service providers best be managed in the destination?

Interviewer: Martin Brackenbury
Garry Wilson, Managing Director – Product and Purchasing at TUI Group
James McClure, UK & Ireland General Manager, Airbnb
Anja Hartung Sfyrla, Head of Business Development, VisitDenmark
Jordi William Carnes, General Manager of Turisme de Barcelona.
Nikki White Wright Director of Destinations and Sustainability at ABTA


Possible deregulation of property rentals in the UK 

There have been reports in Spain about the protests against Airbnb in New York

Reviews of Tom Slee’s What’s Yours is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy  trenchant critique of the sharing economy. more 


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Whose destination is it?

At WTM London this year we ran 25 events over the three days. It was the 10th anniversary of World Responsible Tourism Day and there were two brief films for the opening. The first looked back over the 10 years and the second looking forward at the major challenges. 

The challenge of overtourism came up in many of the sessions, there is increasing concern that in a significant number  of destinations we are running up against the environmental and socio-economic limits to growth – there will be several panels on this at WTM London in 2017. One of the outcomes of the conversations on the Responsible Tourism Stand this year was an agreement amongst a number of destinations in Europe and Asia to work together and share ideas about how to tackle the challenge.

The word “respect” came up repeatedly in the panels and during the conversations on the Responsible Tourism Stand. Central to the concept of Responsible Tourism is the aspiration to use tourism to make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit – in that order. Great places to live are great places to visit. There were three sessions discussing how to make the interactions between local people and tourists better. Better experiences for the hosts and guests and  respect, mutual respect, came up frequently.

The key policy question for government is whether the place and its residents will use tourism or whether the tourism industry will use the place. Sir Colin Marshall, when Chair of British Airways launching the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in 1994 pointed out that tourism and travel industry is “…essentially the renting out for short-term lets of other people’s environments, whether this is a coastline, a city, a mountain range, or a rainforest”. The industry collects the rent whilst rarely contributing to maintaining the asset.

The travel and tourism sector is 11% of global GDP and yet it looks to government, national and local, to fund a proportion, often a large proportion, of the marketing costs. Although there are places where the contribution from the public purse is small, for example, the budget for Barcelona’s destination marketing includes only 5% from the public purse. This is rare, too rare

Despite the scale of the sector and its profitability, destination marketing is largely funded by local taxpayers many, most, of whom will not benefit from tourism and may regard the use of their public space by tourists and day visitors to be an inconvenience and an irritation. The maintenance of public space for tourism, whether that is Trafalgar Square or St James’s Park in London or the market square and streets of vernacular architecture in “chocolate box” towns and villages, has to be funded – and tourism businesses contribute no more than the businesses which do not benefit from tourism. Similarly rarely does even half of the local population benefit directly from the tourism they subsidise. The local authorities have to clean and maintain the historic core of Venice which benefits tourism businesses as far away as Bologna and Innsbruck. The tourists take their trophy photos and enjoy the public spaces for free – at the expense of residents and the non-tourism businesses. Only 10% of visitors to Venice pay to enter the Doge’s Palace, and that is the most popular paid for attraction, Venice is free.

Where the funded attractions are outside the centres of cities, towns and villages, there may be little or no benefit to the local economy from the public expenditure. It is rare for an attraction to forego the revenue that can be captured from the sale of souvenirs and food and beverage, denying other local businesses any opportunity to benefit from the tourism that public funding has helped attract. Match funding is increasingly popular but this can exacerbate the problem, distorting the way a place is marketed – and the place does not “belong” to tourism. It is not for tourism to shape and communicate the identity of a place.

When I was handling incoming groups I arranged a tour of Kent apple farms for a group of Polish apple growers. They wanted to visit London for one day – I was shocked by their choice of the itinerary for their experience of London: Buddy Holly at the theatre, lunch in Chinatown and a visit to the Trocadero Centre at Piccadilly Circus, souvenir shops and amusement arcades – few Londoners ever went there. Such a limited view of London – with considerable effort I did persuade then to take a ride on the open top bus tour and see some of the sights. Their image of London was impoverished by the marketing messages they had received from popular media and the London marketers.

The content and funding of destination marketing matters – the destinations belong to those who live there and fund their maintenance.



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2016 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards


Winners of the 2016 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards Announced

DUBLIN, Oct 06, 2016: The winners of the prestigious 2016 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards were announced today at an awards ceremony at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8.

The awards are a response to demand from the Irish trade for a new type of awards showcasing the best in Irish responsible tourism. The 2016 Irish Responsible Tourism Awards aim to inspire replication, to excite media interest, to encourage competition and celebration from across the tourism industry on the island of Ireland.



The Irish Responsible Tourism Awards are part of a growing family of worldwide responsible tourism awards which are all linked to the World Responsible Tourism Awards, founded by responsibletravel.com. Winners of each of the categories will be longlisted for the World Responsible Tourism Awards – a great opportunity for the Irish trade to raise international awareness.

The shortlist for the awards, which attracted entries from almost every county in Ireland, was announced in early September following assessment by a panel of industry experts chaired by international responsible tourism expert Professor Harold Goodwin. The award categories and the winners of the Silver & Gold awards are:

Best for Natural Heritage Tourism

  • GOLD: Doolin Cave (Co. Clare)
  • SILVER: Burren Nature Sanctuary (Co. Galway)
  • SILVER: Sea Synergy Marine Awareness & Activity Centre (Co. Kerry)

Best for Accessible & Inclusive Tourism

  • GOLD: Gleneagle Hotel Group (Co. Kerry)
  • SILVER: Mobility Mojo

Best Local Authority Initiative for Responsible Tourism

  • GOLD: Lough Muckno – Monaghan County Council
  • SILVER: Westport Smarter Travel Bike Buffet – Mayo County Council

Best Tourism Accommodation for Local Sourcing

  • GOLD (joint): Sea View House (Co. Clare) and Fuchsia Lane Farm Holiday Cottages (Co. Tipperary)
  • SILVER: Hotel Doolin (Co. Clare)

Best Destination for Responsible Tourism

  • GOLD: Mulranny (Co. Mayo)
  • SILVER: Inishbofin Island (Co. Galway)
  • SILVER: Sheep’s Head Way (Co. Cork)

Best Innovation in Responsible Tourism

  • GOLD: The Blackfriary Community Heritage and Archaeology Project (Co. Meath)
  • SILVER: Great Lighthouses of Ireland

Overall Winner: Mulranny (Co. Mayo)

Judges for the awards include:

  • Harold Goodwin (Chair of Judges)
  • Catherine Mack (responsibletravel.com)
  • Kevin Griffin (DIT tourism lecturer and former-EDEN awards judge)
  • Paddy Mathews (Fáilte Ireland)
  • Annabel Fitzgerald (Irish Water & formerly Coastal Programmes Manager An Taisce)
  • Mark Henry (Central Marketing Director, Tourism Ireland)
  • Cyril McAree (Managing Director, Hotel & Restaurant Times)

Fáilte Ireland’s Head Investment & Innovation, Paddy Matthews said, A more environmentally conscious and community-centred approach to developing tourism in Ireland is becoming more and more mainstream… and so it should. It results in more genuine and authentic experiences for all our visitors.”

The awards took place at the 3nd Irish Responsible Tourism Conference organised by the Irish Centre for Responsible Tourism. The Irish Centre for Responsible Tourism was established in 2013 to promote responsible tourism on the island of Ireland.




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Seoul Declaration on Fair Tourism

The Seoul Metropolitan Government hosted the ‘Seoul International Fair & Sustainable Tourism Forum 2016 (SIFT)’ with Seoul Tourism Organization, Seoul on 20-21 September 2016, this Declaration was the product of the conference.

1. Fair Tourism encompasses inter-generational and intra-generational equity. It means managing tourism so that it is fair for the current stakeholders and fair to future generations because it delivers sustainable tourism: tourism that does not deny resources of natural and cultural heritage and environmental and social resources for our children and grandchildren. The year 2017 has been designated by the UN as the ‘International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development’ Sustainable tourism cannot exist without sustainable life, and the two are inseparable in any tourist destinations all around the world.

2. Korea welcomed 13 million visitors in 2015, of which some 10 million (78.7%) came to Seoul, the nation’s capital. Mega-cities are at the center of tourism in many countries. In this context, more attention is needed to ensure that tourism remains a happy activity for both the tourists and the local people. Seoul recognizes that tourism should benefit local people and that great places to live are great places to visit.

3. The ‘Seoul International Fair & Sustainable Tourism Forum 2016’ not only raises issues and calls for changes regarding the importance of fair tourism and tourism development, but also aims to initiate practical mid-to-long-term solutions and policies for implementation. All forms of tourism can be fairer, benefiting local people, their culture and environment as well as creating meaningful and memorable experiences for our guests. Fair Tourism is inclusive tourism ensuring that tourism is accessible to all.

4. Marking 2016 as the new start of its tourism policies, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has reviewed, through the SIFT (Seoul International Fair Tourism) Forum, whether its tourism policies are fair and sufficiently embrace and protect the public interest, as Seoul experiences very rapid growth in tourism numbers, putting increasing pressure on local communities, the city’s infrastructure and environment.

5. We stand at a turning point where it is now essential to ensure the Seoul Metropolitan Government more pro-actively manages tourism in the city. This will require a whole of government approach including the tourism department, planning, building control, transport, environment and waste management. Only through a whole of government approach can Seoul Metropolitan Government effectively manage tourism to benefit, rather than harm, local communities and their environment. The rights of citizens to enjoy their residence and neighborhood needs to be protected by the city government.

6. Tourism policies should not just aim at growth and development, but embrace the principle of ‘tourism for a sustainable life.’ What polices and solutions are needed? How should they be implemented so that both the local inhabitants and the tourists can enjoy fair and sustainable tourism? What must the policy makers, academics, civil society and experts do in their capacity? New paths and principles are set forth in this ‘Seoul Declaration on Fair Tourism’, Seoul aspires to be a leader in fair urban tourism for not only Seoul but other mega-cities in Asia and beyond.

7. We travel as local, domestic or international travelers to share different cultures and environments and to enhance the quality of our lives, and sometimes the lives of those we visit. A core value of Fair Tourism is respect. We travel to other people’s places and we must recognize our responsibility to treat local people and their natural and cultural environment with respect. Respect requires that local people have a significant say in how tourism is managed in their neighborhood. When tourist activities cause inconvenience to the local residents or damage the local environment and culture, they are no longer fair and therefore no longer welcome.

8. The UN has declared 2017 as the ‘International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and the City of Seoul plans to ensure that tourism contributes to the sustainable development of the city by using tourism to make Seoul a better place to live in. Achieving this objective requires the active engagement of their elected representatives, all government departments, the tourism industry, local communities and civil society. Policy makers must continue to seek and implement policies that ensure that all forms of tourism are fair. This requires that citizens are effectively engaged in the planning, decision-making, implementation and monitoring of tourism policy and practices in the city and in their neighborhoods. They choose what aspects of their lives they want to share. We recognize that more emphasis must be placed on the yield that the city gets from tourism, the jobs and sustainable development created, rather than on simply arrivals and bed nights.

9. The tourist industry serves an important role in connecting the tourists and local inhabitants and thus promoting cultural and economic exchanges. The industry must work to develop fair and creative tourism models that can promote more exchanges while respecting the lives and cultures of both the tourists and the local residents. The tourism industry must re-evaluate the values that must be preserved, while introducing new tourism products that respond to the changing needs.

10. Fair and sustainable urban tourism development should further be expanded to not only mega-cities but also to small and medium sized towns and cities as well. Local activists, field specialists, local government officers, industry experts, scholars and policy makers should share experiences and cooperate with one another to achieve this goal.

11. The paradigm of fair and sustainable tourism development should be shared among mega-cities in Asia. This calls for active leadership of the city governments in mega-cities. We hereby declare that fair, sustainable, tourism development by no means discourages tourism, but rather seeks to realize a more bountiful life based on mutual respect and cooperation among the local inhabitants, tourists and the tourism industry as a whole.


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RT Conversations at WTM – new for 2016

Every year at WTM London we have about 2000 participants across the various Responsible Tourism  events, it is a big success but we want to reach still more people and excite them about what they can achieve by using a Responsible Tourism approach.

We have reduced the number of Awards so that there is time for the winners to be interviewed on stage and for the audience to hear from them about what they have done and why.

This year we are building on our success last year in engaging a wide range of people in conversations on the Responsible Tourism stand – on the show floor and far more participative. The idea is to get the host(s) to get a conversation going, no set piece presentations – no death by PowerPoint: some video, some storytelling, images, conversation, controversy; a real chance to forge new business relationships, to inspire, educate and challenge.

All sessions on the Responsible Tourism  Responsible Tourism  Stand AF100


13:00-14:30 India: Enhancing the Tourist Experience

Responsible Tourism is about using tourism to make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit. 2017 is the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Development through Tourism. WTM is launching a new feature of WTM London, showcasing some of the ways in which tourists can engage positively with local communities purchasing local goods and services, contributing to the conservation of natural and cultural resources and valuing their community. Come along to meet leading local tour operators, their source market partners, members of local communities and national government and tourist board leaders.

14:45-15:45 Responsible Tourism Potential of the Republics of Central Asia

Come and meet representatives of the new and emerging sustainable tourism destinations and hear first-hand what they have to offer in sustainable and eco-tourism. Discover more about these fascinating countries and their culture, customs and historical sites as well as the genuine hospitality of the people. See their breath-taking scenery and  the potential they each have to offer to  tourists looking for an alternative tourism experience.

17:15-18:00 How can businesses report on their Responsible Tourism  Impact?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals apply to developed and developing economies alike. There are opportunities for businesses to use this framework to report on their positive impacts and to secure profile and market advantage. How can we most efficiently report on the contribution businesses make to the sustainable development through tourism?

Harold Goodwin & Jen Bobbin

13:00 – 13:45  Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Travel & Tourism

Last November Professor Kevin Anderson gave a graphic presentation on the scale of the challenge of climate change. Then came Paris and the intergovernmental agreement to reduce emissions so as to constrain the rise in the average global temperature to below 1.5°C. Climate change has continued to accelerate with new records being broken for the hottest month on record and many more extreme weather events. A hosted conversation, an opportunity to discuss what has been achieved since Paris, what has worked and what hasn’t an opportunity to share reflections on why more has not been achieved and to discuss possible solutions.

14:00-14:45  ‘How tourism can help the refugee crisis’.
2016 year has revealed even more about how Europe and the rest of the world is affected by the refugee crisis. Our tourism businesses are affected by these conflicts, and tourists are starting to make different choices about where they travel based on what destinations they consider to be safest. So what can tourism do to help the refugee crisis? What power do tourism organisations have to build resilience? And how do we protect local communities? Join the discussion to find out more.

15:30 – 16:30 How can we ensure the travel and tourism are accessible to all? 

What  is being done to make travel and tourism accessible for all and to discuss what more should and can be done.  Ensuring accessibility for all is about a lot more than wheelchair access. Why are not more tourism and accommodation providers ensuring that there is access for all?

10:15-11:00  Meet the 2016 Gold and Silver Winners
Tour opportunity to meet the Gold and Silver Winners of the World Responsible Tourism  Awards.

11:00 – 12:00 Responsible “Better” Volunteering Responsible Tourism Stand

Angela Benson has just completed a series of research seminars on responsible volunteering engaging the industry, academics and NGOs. Angela will be hosting a discussion about what should be included in a new British Standard on volunteering and a new International Standard. What needs to be addressed in order to ensure that the communities benefit, that children are not put at risk and to ensure that the expectations of volunteers are met or surpassed? What do we need to change in order to get better volunteering?

12:30-13:30 The Gorillas, Tourism and Poverty Reduction at Bwindi in Uganda  Responsible Tourism Stand

All round the world when land and habitat is protected for wildlife local communities lose out, more needs to be done to ensure that they too benefit from the tourism attracted by the resources they used to ‘own’. Conversations between international and local tour operators, lodge owners, the Ugandan Tourism Board and those working on the initiative to discuss how tourism in and around Bwindi can be shaped and improved so that local people, particularly the economically poorest, can benefit more from the tourists attracted by the opportunity to see the gorillas. There is more to Bwindi than the gorillas and great opportunities to extend length of stay in this part of Africa.

Come along and join the conversation if you have a tourism interest in Bwindi and the gorillas or if you are interested in the issue.

13:30-15:00 Enhancing the Tourist Experience in Africa Responsible Tourism Stand

Responsible Tourism is about using tourism to make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit. 2017 is the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Development through Tourism. WTM is launching a new feature of WTM London, showcasing some of the ways in which tourists can engage positively with local communities purchasing local goods and services, contributing to the conservation of natural and cultural resources and valuing their community. Come along to meet leading local tour operators, their source market partners, members of local communities and national government and tourist board leaders.

15:30 – 17:00 Guides – educators and cultural brokers Responsible Tourism Stand

We have brought together a group outstanding guides to talk about how they approach their challenging role of enabling tourists to have positive encounters with local communities, their culture and environment. How do they see their responsibility? What do they think makes a good guide? How do they ensure that encounters are respectful, that hosts and guests create great memories and that the tourists have a great experience? Some short talks, some video and a conversation.

Full details of each of the conversations will be on the WTM website – link 

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Turning the Tables at WTM

Following the success of last year’s event, we are again running a  Responsible Tourism Speed Networking again at WTM. Speed Networking reverses the tables fo an hour the buyers take the tables and the sellers get the chance to approach the buyers.

Tuesday 8th November 09:00 – 10:00 Responsible Tourism Speed Networking

Responsible Tourism Speed Networking is a not to be missed initiative helping to drive business and add value to both responsible tourism buyers and Exhibitors. The Speed Networking format enables Responsible Tourism buyers and exhibitors to meet for 6-minute mini-meetings to discover whether they have similar business interests that they would like to pursue during WTM. On the show floor, the sellers take the booths and the buyers visit. In the speed networking, the buyers have the tables and the sellers visit them.

WTM Responsible Tourism Speed Networking is a not to be missed initiative helping to drive business and add value to both responsible tourism buyers and Exhibitors. The Speed Networking format allows for Responsible Tourism buyers and exhibitors to meet for 5 minute mini meetings to discover whether they have similar business interests that they would like to pursue during WTM London.

*Please note: the buyers will be seated at the tables and the exhibitors will move around the tables and approach the buyers. Enter as a trade visitor as normal and book a buyer’s table in the speed networking. People want to sell to the buyers do not need to register – they just run up and queue to meet the potential buyer(s)  of their choice !

Time and Location
Date: Tuesday 8 November
Time: 08:30 for a 09:00 start. Finish at 10:00
Location: Hall Entrance S10, Global Stage Networking Area, ExCeL

Register here

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Brexit and UK outbound

It is still early days, the impact of the decline in the purchasing value fo the £ has not yet worked through, the larger companies have hedged into next year buying € & $ ahead. But unless the £ recovers, which seems very unlikely, holidays will cost more next year. For smaller companies who have not hedged a 10% decline in the value of sterling hits their margins very hard.



First Choice, the home of all-inclusive holidays has released new research which has found almost 60% of us feel in desperate need of a break and some political respite after the nation voted to leave the EU at the end of June.

Mark Hall, Director of Product at First Choice said: “Despite the political upheaval, holidaymakers are not being put off booking their holidays.  More than ever before they want to flee the UK, spend time with their families and switch off.  All inclusive holidays are increasing in popularity as customers want peace of mind and control over their holiday budget, so they don’t have to worry about what they’re spending while away.” more

Easyjet has been widely reported to be pursuing registering an air operator’s certificate in a European country.

“easyJet is lobbying the UK government and the EU to ensure the continuation of a fully liberal and deregulated aviation market within the UK and Europe. This would mean that easyJet and all European airlines can continue to operate as they do today.
As part of easyJet’s contingency planning before the referendum we had informal discussions with a number of European aviation regulators about the establishment of an AOC (air operator certificate) in an European country to enable easyJet to fly across Europe as we do today.
easyJet has now started a formal process to acquire an AOC.
Until the outcome of the UK/EU negotiations are clearer easyJet does not need to make any other structural or operational changes.
We have no plans to move from Luton – our home for 20 years.” More in the FT

Today EasyJet shares fell 5%+ as the markets opened after the airline reported an 8.3% drop in revenue per seat for the three months ending June 30, although some of the damage was reduced by a 3.8%  improvement in cost per seat. They also reported that

“Commercial and operational performance during the quarter was impacted by the Brussels attack and Egyptair tragedy, significant disruption due to air traffic control strikes and congestion, runway closures at Gatwick airport and severe weather causing 1,221 cancellations.” More

Low Cost Holidays
The Low Cost Travel Group ceased trading on 15th July, based in Mallorca and registered with the  Balearic Islands authorities it did not have an ATOL and it was not a member of ABTA. Approximately 27,000 customers were reported to be in resort and a further 110,000 who had booked with Lowcost but have yet to travel.

Low Cost Holidays moved its base to Mallorca and lodged £1.09m with authorities in the Ballearics – enough to pay out just a few pounds (£7.78)  to each customer. More



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Harold Goodwin