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WTM World Responsible Tourism Days 2011

This year's WTM World Responsible Tourism Day programme was
the most successful to date stretching over three days. So successful that some
of those who wanted to attend sessions were unable to do so, there were people
standing along the walls and sitting in the aisles. Regrettably there aren?t larger rooms
available.

The objective of the programme is to educate, inspire and to
challenge the industry to take responsibility for making tourism more sustainable,
this year there was a little more challenging, a little more controversy. The
panels on all inclusives and the debate about who profits from tourism generated
were designed to challenge; they generated more light than heat.

The session on Progress in Responsible Tourism was packed to
hear four speakers, with very different perspectives, reflect on how far we
have come, and how far we have to go. to make tourism more sustainable. Taleb
Rifai, Secretary General of UNWTO, talked about some of the global trends and
the importance of ethics, Ruth Holroyd spoke about what Thomas Cook is doing to
address the challenge of sustainability across the triple bottom line; Heidi
Keyser spoke about progress in Responsible Tourism in South Africa and Michael
Horton spoke of the challenge of ensuring that visits to orphanages in Cambodia
do not encourage the purchase of children to stock the orphanages. Michael’s
powerful presentation has stimulated a campaign.

We seek to inspire too. This year the WTMWRTD video focussed
on the local impacts of Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Gambia, Costa
Rica, Indonesia and Just a Drop around the world. Thanks to sponsorship from
the Commonwealth Secretariat for the first time we had a local community leader,
Ms Dhanya M R, the President of the Kumarakam Panchayat, speak at the session
on Making Destinations More Sustainable. We focussed on Egypt, Kerala and Sri
Lanka. Ms Dhanya M R spoke eloquently about how the Kerala Responsible Tourism initiative
engaged the whole community:

?The entire local community
except few exceptions welcomed this changed situation and responded positively.
There were number of initiatives from the local community in group farming, homestead
farming, formation of ethnic restaurants, cultural group, handicraft units,
ecobag units, reacting against environmental issues etc. The responsible
tourism initiative provides additional income to more than 1000 families in the
panchayat. More than that, it helped in creating a very healthy relationship
between the Community, Local Panchayat and the tourism industry.?

The sessions on the Business Case for Ensuring Access for
All, the Role of Government, Tourism Jobs, CSR in Meetings and Hospitality,
Securing Commercial Advantage form Responsible Tourism  through Marketing and Managing Tourism at
World Heritage Sites enabled participants to share best practice and the audience
to learn from some of the leading practitioners.

You can find most of the PowerPoint presentations, some audio
recordings and videos on WTMWRTD 2011 legacy page www.artyforum.info/wtmwrtd2011.html

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