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The Responsible Tourism Movement Comes of Age

This year for the first time Responsible Tourism was addressed across all four days of the World Travel Market and there was a Responsible Tourism Fringe event on the Tuesday evening. On Monday the WTM published the WTM Global Trends Report by Caroline Bremner of Euromonitor who reported that in all regions ?the desire for environmental responsibility, social interaction, authentic travel experiences and fair trade practices? are key to successful business in the next few years. On Thursday Xavier and I ran the first WTM Responsible Tourism Conference on the Business Case for Responsible Tourism attended by many who have not previously engaged with Responsible Tourism.

 

Today

the front page of the Saturday Telegraph Travel Supplement carried a story by me on Green getaways in lean times and Cathy Mack, one of our alumni wrote her column in the Irish Times on the awards.

 

WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Day Spotlight focussed on the individuals who make tourism more responsible – it is a good read, although Cheryl Mvula’s reference to the “Goodwin girls” is a bit embarrassing.

 

 

The Responsible Tourism Movement is diverse reflecting the different cultures and environments where individuals and groups are pursuing the principles of Responsible Tourism ? principles which include diversity, respect and transparency. One of the principles of Responsible Tourism is that all forms of tourism can be more responsible ? the development of WTMWRTD reflects that principle and ambition ? each year we are more successful in engaging the mainstream industry. Our purpose is to change the way that travel companies do their business and to ensure that tourism contributes, in the words of the Cape Town Declaration,  to ?make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.? This can only be achieved by engaging with the main stream industry.

 

 

Tribes Travel has grown from a small start ?up to a significant player in the UK market with a clear set of principles; many of today’s new initiatives will succeed others will not. Success in the market place is critical to sustainability and to changing the world. It is perhaps worth reflecting that it was in the class room of the ICRT at Greenwich University in 2001 that the priorities were to create a market place (www.responsibletravel.com) and awards (www.responsibletourismawards.com). Justin Francis (who was in the ICRT class of 2001) and I co-founded responsibletravel.com. Other sites have been established by ICRTs and by alumni (see www.responsibletourismpartnership.org/RTWorld.html). Justin established the awards and invited me to chair the judges. There are a range of other organisations also making awards  for Responsible Tourism.

 

On Tuesday the ICRT ran a seminar on Corporate Social Responsibility. Xavier’s comment that “companies that constantly speak about corporate social responsibility are unlikely to be practising it.” Xavier called on firms to focus less on marketing their policies and more on putting them into action. One of the other themes taken up by the trade press was the need for local government intervention.

 

Not only does WTMWRTD now have a fringe the Minority Rights Group International  organised a press conference at Carlton House Terrace in central London to draw attention to the plight of the Endorois.

 

Since their eviction in the 1970s, the 60,000-strong cow-herding community no longer has access to vital grazing grounds, or to ancient sites for naming or initiation ceremonies, imperilling their culture and survival.

 

Leader of the Endorois people, Wilson Kipkazi, says, “We welcome visitors to our country. But loss of our lands has forced my community into poverty. It is high time that we benefit fully from the income generated through tourism.”

 

While in Lake Bogoria, tourists can visit reconstructions of typical Endorois village and watch locals perform traditional dances, yet they remain oblivious to the dispossession of the Endorois.

 

“Often tourists are unaware of the impact of their holidays on local communities – in our case conservation must go hand-in-hand with the protection of the Endorois’ way of life”, says Wilson Kipkazi.

 

The Responsible Tourism Movement has come of age – there is still a great deal to be done.

 

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