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Beyond a joke! It is time the media took responsibility

Catherine Mack has been writing about “punters”.

?Responsible tourism? Ha! Does that mean not dropping your litter as
you walk through the rainforest?? was the scathing reaction of a friend
when I told her that I was taking on an Msc in Responsible Tourism Management
six years ago. I tried somewhat pathetically to defend my tiny corner.
Then, ?I am so tired all of this f***king eco shit? one award winning
travel writer said loudly in my direction a few years later at the ABTA
convention, to a round of back patting and communal cackling from his
peers. By then, I had learned to smile politely and walk on. But oh, how
they laughed.

So, six years later, with one Masters degree, a modest pile of
published work, three books, one app and an award, I am simply bemused
to see they are still laughing.  Just this week  on Twitter, in an
albeit humourous banter between fellow travel Tweeps, I posted something
about Responsible Tourism Week, an
online iniative happening 13-17 February 2012.  So why was I surprised
to see the ensuant piss taking? ?Apparently it’s Responsible Tourism
Week soon. Personally I quite fancy an Irresponsible Tourism Week.
Anyone else?!? one travel writer teased. ?Isn?t every week an
irresponsible tourism week?? another retorted. I retweeted and replied,
?Speak for yourselves?  *still smiling*

However,  what surprises me most is that six years later, after a
plethora of responsible tourism conferences, conventions and codes of
practice, so many travel writers, not just travellers, still think it is
amusing that our industry is ?responsible?  for so much damage. As one
Tweep put it, the term responsible ?feels at odd with fun?. They still
dismiss the responsible tourism movement as a bit of a whim, a green
geeksville. A posse of party poopers even. They still don?t get the fact
that the responsible tourism movement is about water inequity, human
rights abuses, irrational use of natural resources, waste, pollution,
commercialising culture, and so much more.  And why do they not know?
Because so many of the responsible tourism issues and destination
developments are debated in academic circles, at government or UN level
or around the board tables of small, committed tour operators and
agencies. And there is always one empty chair at these debates. That of
the media.
There will always be travel writers for whom a commission
will come before a ?cause?, of course, but there are so many who are
still just simply in the dark where responsible tourism, ecotourism,
green or sustainable tourism issues , call it what you will, are
concerned.

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