Any kind of tourism can be responsible, or irresponsible. Travellers can be responsible or irresponsible. Responsible Tourism is about using tourism to make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.
Always in Responsible Travel that order, it requires that we listen to the local communities who make, and have often over centuries made their place a destination. Great places to live make great places to visit.
So Responsible Tourism is not a product range. It is an approach to travelling, holidaymaking, doing business or managing a destination. It is about people taking responsibility individually and together to make tourism better. So why does it matter?
1. Our sector is 10.3% of global GDP
The World Travel and Tourism Council calculates that our sector is 10.3% of global GDP. If our sector was a country only the USA and China would be larger, Travel and tourism would come third, above Japan which has only 6%. With size comes the responsibility to address climate change, biodiversity loss, and growing inequality. And we need to accept that our sector facilitated the spread of Covid-19. Understandably we clamor for tourism to restart but there are many who do not have holidays away from home and who do not benefit from tourism – it is wise to be responsible.
#Tourism and Covid19
Tourism is one of the worst hit by #Coronavirus. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the Industry accounts for about 10.4% of global GDP & Covid19 could lead to the loss of up to 50 million jobs in the industry worldwide.#COVID19 pic.twitter.com/WTns06D4qz— Ecofinar (@ecofinar) April 6, 2020
2. Our consumers care about sustainability and responsible consumption
Tourists and holidaymakers increasingly seek experiences, they want to get closer to the environment and local people and they do not want to feel guilty afterwards about having ridden on elephants, swum with a dolphin, or bought a carpet made with child labor. Our consumers care about sustainability and responsible consumption, not all of them but enough that we cannot ignore these issues.
3. Hotels and accommodation providers will be judged by their environmental and social performance
Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about green energy, lighting and water use. As energy and resource costs rise reducing consumption benefits profitability. Knowledgeable consumers can see how responsibly a hotel or B&B is being managed, they probably will not return or recommend places that are not.
4. Reputation matters
Reputation also matters to transport providers, attractions, and tour operators. Flight shaming is a challenge for our industry, aviation is our Achilles heel. Flying is not the issue, dirty fuel is. Travelers and local communities are going to demand more sustainable practices and more positive social and economic impacts.
Overtourism has arrived because for decades destinations have paid no more than lip service to sustainability the Amsterdam to Seoul there has been a backlash against tourism. The pandemic has reminded people of what their place is like without tourism- not everyone will be pleased to see it back, Destinations will need to take responsibility for tourism and manage it better.