Twenty Years on Since the Earth Summit

In Rio in mid-June governments, business and civil society will gather together to consider how we balance the objectives of development and the maintenance of a healthy environment. The challenge of sustainable development is as acute as it ever was, more so as the world’s population continues to grow and as we bump up against the limits of our finite world, oil, water, food are all increasingly problematic.

WWF with Tourism Concern published Beyond the Green Horizon in 1992, WTO and WTTC published Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism Industry a few years later. We have been talking about what needs to be done to achieve sustainable development through tourism since 1992. We know what to do. We know more and more about how to do it. We need to do it.

In Cape Town in 2002, alongside the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development the 1st International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations was held bringing together 280 delegates from 20 countries. They discussed South Africa’s national Responsible Tourism policy and passed the Cape Town Declaration which defined the characteristics of tourism which could achieve the objective of making “better places for people to live in, better places for people to visit”; in that order. How can destinations use tourism to make better places for people to live in?

When World Travel Market established World Responsible Tourism Day (WTMWRTD), with its partner UNWTO, they adopted the characteristics of Responsible Tourism from the Cape Town Declaration. Each year we have a series of seminars and debates which address the issues engaging people from the industry and the destinations.  You can see the programme for November 2012 on the WTMWRTD website.

WTMWRTD wants to extend the discussions and debates which happen at World Travel Market each November around the year. There is a forum and we welcome comments on this blog – we want to be controversial and to carry a wide range of views about how the industry can to take responsibility for making tourism more sustainable.

In November this year we are taking further some of the issues address last year – you can find the PowerPoint’s and some audio files from WTMWRTD 2010 and 2011 on line.  In 2012 we are taking up issues raised last year and raising some new ones.

Following up on last year’s panel session we shall be asking more explicitly “Is the industry doing enough to cater for people with disabilities?” Michael Horton raised the issues of the internal trafficking of children last year and we have a session on Tourism and Child Protection this year. This is particularly relevant to volunteering in orphanages and we shall be looking at Responsible Volunteering covering this and other issues.  For the first time we shall be looking at Wildlife Tourism and Activity Tourism – looking at how best to manage the negative impacts and enhance the positive ones.  We are also raising the issues around whether tourists pay enough towards the maintenance of the world cultural heritage, so central to many people’s holidays; and whether tourism is sufficiently inclusive of the socially disadvantaged.

On World Responsible Tourism Day, the Wednesday of WTM, we shall be debating the biggest environmental challenge confronting the industry and our place in the world and reflecting on progress since Rio in 1992. What progress have we made? What do you think?

This blog is intended to stimulate debate we want to hear your views – comment and if there is something that you want to say please send your blog entry to Harold Goodwin. (harold[at]haroldgoodwin.info

Harold Goodwin
Advisor to WTMWRTD on Responsible Tourism

Professor or Responsible Tourism Management at Leeds Metropolitan University

and www.icrtourism.org

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