Responsible Tourism Ideas & Inspirations
Last week in London, the World Travel Market (WTM), a leading international tourism industry exhibition, offered opportunities to learn about responsible tourism, through discussions on critical issues related to the tourism industry’s footprint and various social events showcasing innovative ideas and inspirations for tourism professionals from around the world.
To summarize what responsible tourism – and taking responsibility for tourism – means, the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT) provides helpful guidelines on what the concept represents, how it should be put into practice, and why it is important for businesses, destinations, and communities. In short, responsible tourism is about making "better places for people to live, and better places for people to visit" (Source: "Responsible Tourism in Destinations" by ICRT).
For those interested in learning about the what, why, and how (and even the who and where) of responsible tourism, and for those who are seeking ideas and inspirations for making a difference through tourism, there are many resources available – including, of course, the WTM Responsible Tourism and World Responsible Tourism Awards websites.
The lessons shared during the WTM events have shown, among others, that approaching tourism responsibly
(1) is not the responsibility of a few, but it is for everyone involved in and benefiting from tourism – including, of course, the traveler; and
(2) is not the privilege of those with the means to invest in “extra” efforts, but it is an opportunity for everyone to make a difference.
It's About Action
The World Responsible Tourism Awards, which celebrated the 10th anniversary this year and were presented during WTM London, demonstrate that there's a wide range of inspiring examples of businesses, individuals, destinations, and communities that embody the spirit of “better places for people to live, and better places for people to visit". The growing list of award winners who "offer fantastic holidays that conserve cultural traditions, create sustainable livelihoods, and connect travellers with the pace and rhythm of local ways of life" includes both some of the smallest players (in terms of their size, which definitely is not the only measurement of impact) in the global tourism industry, and some of the world's largest.
Learning from the Best
Access to information, knowledge, tools, and inspirations is no longer an excuse for inaction. Even for those who couldn’t personally join the award ceremony in London (or watch the livecast) or have the chance to connect with the winners, their stories are available online, and many of them are also on social media actively sharing their ideas, lessons learned, and dreams for an even better – and more responsible – future. Learning from the best is arguably the best way to get started and to find ways to improve one’s own practices. At WTM, it seemed that many were inspired to learn from the best and to take action to make a difference through tourism.
Photo: World Responsible Tourism Award Ceremony – “Best Destination for Responsible Tourism” category winner, Bonito, MS, Brazil