In the last ten days, the ICRT has received approval for a new MSc in Responsible Tourism Management, to be launched in September 2008. We have also secured funding for four new academic posts (two Senior Lecturers and two Senior Research Fellows) for the ICRT and a full time senior administrator. This provides a firm basis for continuing to build the ICRT of which you are an important part, and it validates my decision to move the ICRT to Leeds Metropolitan University where we have found a worthy home in an institution which shares our commitment to responsible business and sustainable development.
It was evident last weekend in Leeds that there is some understandable anxiety about this growth. The reputation of the ICRT is growing rapidly at the moment and with it the opportunities for alumni and current students. The mergers amongst the larger operators and changing market conditions are leading to the creation of new posts in responsible tourism management � the Responsible Tourism movement grows, and opportunities are expanding.
As those of you looking to do your research or technical skills project will be aware, I am developing a new Travel Philanthropy Charity. We are scoping the opportunity to create an ethical NGOtel and we have requests for RT audits from tour operators. A number of you are already beginning to influence the ways in which the companies you work for do business and to move them toward more responsible business practises. Those of you who have met Caroline Warburton, Kerry Ixer and Sarah Howsen during the optional weekends will be aware of how our former students are advancing responsible tourism in an exciting range of ways; this is also evident when you read of the alumni or mix with them at the annual social event in London on WTM World Responsible Tourism Day.
The larger part of our student body are in employment, looking to secure additional knowledge and skills to secure change � others are seeking to make a career change. For example, Jo Baddeley has just been appointed as Sustainable Tourism Manager for Thomas Cook. Reflecting on the experience over the last nine years it seems to me that most students who do make a career change combine knowledge and skills acquired during the course with their previous knowledge and skills to find or make a role within the movement which is appropriate for them.
The substantial piece of work which concludes your Responsible Tourism Management course is part of the process of demonstrating the knowledge and skills which you have acquired and of moving on, making change in your existing company or organisation, or an opportunity to have a fantastic experience and make a difference.
Each of you must make your own choice but Xavier, Janet and I are here to help you through that process.
At Greenwich, student projects were often restricted by the constraints of the University's expectation of an MSc dissertation, largely focused on training researchers. At Leeds Met we have been able to offer a choice between a more traditional Dissertation and a Technical Report, produced to the same standards of intellectual rigour and robust approach to methodology and evidence, but more flexible and designed to enable you to undertake action research or to produce the kind of professional report you might be expected to produce for your employer, for a campaign or as consultancy.
In the ICRT we are committed to evidence-based decision making and to reporting on practise. The technical skills course is designed to provide you with the skills to do that, and to contribute to identifying good (and subsequently best) practice in defined contexts recognising the diversity of culture and environment. This provides an opportunity to demonstrate practical skills of use to a potential employer or to develop a business model as Justin Francis did when ResponsibleTravel.com emerged from his MSc dissertation.
The Responsible Tourism Movement is still in its infancy there is much to be done, if you want to discuss how you can make your contribution, do get in touch.
29 January 2008