Later this year, we shall mark the 20th anniversary of the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations. The conference, held alongside the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), reflected on the challenge of achieving sustainable development and the lack of progress over the previous thirty years and concluded that businesses, governments and consumers needed to be challenged to take responsibility and make tourism better.
During the WSSD, the Greenwashing Academy hosted the Greenwash Academy Awards. The Academy defined Greenwash, environmental or social whitewash as “the phenomenon of socially and environmentally destructive corporations attempting to preserve and expand their markets by posing as friends of the environment and leaders in the struggle to eradicate poverty.”
Responsible Tourism is about making better tourism. It is about “making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.” Responsible Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists take responsibility, take action to make tourism more sustainable.
Sustainability can only be achieved if people take responsibility and work to decrease the negative impacts and increase the positive socio-economic and environmental impacts. Consumers need to be able to trust the sustainability claims made by businesses and destination governments in a world increasingly characterised by greenwashing and spinning.
Transparency is at the core of Responsible Tourism. Businesses and destinations need to state clearly what they are taking responsibility for, why the issues they are addressing matter, and their actions’ positive impacts. We have recently seen two major advances.
In an effort to avoid greenwashing Federico González Tejera, CEO of Radisson Hotel Group has developed a list of 12 basic sustainability indicators required by any hotel that claims to be sustainable. Federico González Tejera argues that, “sustainability seems to be the fashionable word, but it is too broad and confusing, which means that not only the owners but also the clients are confused by diverse claims and very vague decisions without a concrete objective”. In principle, eight of the 12 criteria are mandatory, while for the rest the hotels can commit to carrying out their implementation in the next three years. The proposed measures include actions to measure and reduce energy and water use, as well as carbon emissions , and identify and reduce waste.
Travalyst and six top travel brands have aligned on a shared framework to collect and display flight emissions data. The framework consists of a set of shared principles and preferred methodology for estimating carbon emissions from air travel, which have been agreed upon and committed to by the Travalyst coalition partners, which include Skyscanner, Google, Booking.com, Trip.com Group, Tripadvisor and Visa. The data will enable travellers to book the most carbon-efficient flights. Google has published a Travel Impact Model for emissions estimates that further details the Travalyst framework. Read more on GreenAir
The Travelyst Aviation Principles are Responsible Principles:
- Provide travellers with a transparent way to easily understand and compare travel options, no matter where they book their travel
- Provide airline partners with the tools and information to accelerate their sustainability efforts
- Be trusted, accurate and reliable
- Be available to all industry players and serves as a benchmark for aviation sustainability
Every year, in the WTM Responsible Tourism Awards, we see great examples of businesses and destinations walking the talk.
The 2022 WTM Global Responsible Tourism Awards are open for entries, destinations and businesses can enter, and you can nominate others on the WTM global hub.
The India Awards are open until 30 June and the Rest of the World category, open to all, is open until 31 August.
The Gold winners in Africa, India, Latin America and the Rest of the World Awards are automatically entered into the Global Awards presented at WTM London in November.