Demand for travel experiences with the characteristics of RT continues to grow

There is increasing interest in many source markets for tourism products with Responsible Tourism characteristics. There is growing demand for authentic and memorable experiences, travellers and holidaymakers are seeking to get closer to the people and their places in the destinations which they choose to visit, they want deeper and more memorable experiences. Those memories are created in the interaction between host and guest and their natural and cultural environments. In traditional sun, sand and sea destinations like The Gambia holiday makers are leaning to drum and cook local dishes, wear Gambian dress,  volunteering, visiting villages and learning about agriculture. As they get closer to the destination and local people travellers and holidaymakers make more informed choices and want to be better informed travellers maximising their positive, and minimising their negative, impacts.

At the Dutch Association of Travel Agents an Tour Operators conference held as part of the Dutch Travel Fair, Vakantiebeurs last month ANVR, representing 200 tour operators and 1,400 travel agencies, signed the Private Sector Commitment to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism .  Travelife Certified certificates to three Dutch Tour Operators – TUI Nederland, SNP Natuurreizen and Kuoni Specialists.

ANVR has published a Vision for Tourism 2025 which seeks to balance people, planet and profit and lays out an agenda for change. IDH, a sustainable trade initiative based in Utrecht has a public private partnership, Accelerating Sustainable Tourism Initiative,  working to certify hundreds of accommodations in long haul destinations such as Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya and Thailand by 2013 as a means of addressing their sustainability.

The business case for engaging with Responsible Tourism was addressed as part of WTM World Responsible Tourism Day two years ago with presentations on Securing the Commercial Advantage from Responsible Tourism Through Marketing by TUI. Virgin Holidays and ResponsibleTravel.com

Mintel published its first report on Responsible Tourism  in 2007 and hear that another report on the market for Responsible Tourism  is due out shortly. Travel Market Report based out of Oyster Bay in New York State reported a week ago that demand for Responsible Tourism is gaining momentum among consumers and suppliers.

A study published by the Center for Responsible Tourism based at Stanford University reports that

• 93% of Conde Nast Traveler readers surveyed in 2011 said travel companies should be responsible for protecting the environment.

• 58% said their hotel choice is influenced by the support the hotel gives to its local community.

• 66% of consumers around the world say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society, according to a 2012 Nielsen Wire survey.

• According to a 2012 survey, the ‘green’ travel trend is gaining momentum among TripAdvisor members, as 71% said they plan to make more eco-friendly choices in the next 12 months compared to 65% that did so in the past 12 months.

The 8 page summary of evidence that there is increasing recognition among both travel professionals and consumers of the importance of responsible travel: The case for Responsible Travel: Trends and Statistics.

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Harold Goodwin