There is a buzz around regenerative tourism. It is undeniably a good thing.
If only more tourism was regenerative. Regenerative, net-positive, nature positive are all forms of Responsible Tourism. They result from the willingness of those in the industry, from architects and marketers to engineers, hotel managers and tour operators, to take responsibility and drive tourism differently.
What drives the idea of regenerative tourism?
Dana Stefan in an article on Travel Tomorrow about regenerative travel quotes Jonathon Day, Associate Professor at Purdue University, who told The New York Times “Sustainable tourism is sort of a low bar. At the end of the day, it’s just not making a mess of the place. Regenerative tourism says, let’s make it better for future generations.”
Members of the Network of European Regions for Sustainable and Competitive Tourism (NECSTouR) in the 2018 Barcelona Declaration “Better Places to Live Better Places to Visit” promoted the idea of regenerative tourism using the language of the 2002 Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations. The declaration called on “countries, multilateral agencies, destinations and enterprises to develop similar practical guidelines and to encourage planning authorities, tourism businesses, tourists and local communities – to take responsibility for achieving sustainable tourism, and to create better places for people to live in and for people to visit.”
Great places to live are great places to visit. The 2022 Charter on Responsible Tourism signed on Magna Carta Island in London last November reiterates the point “Sustainability is an aspiration. It will only be realised if and when we take responsibility for making tourism sustainable. Responsibility drives sustainability. Responsible Tourism is about “making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.”
Tourism is what we, the producers and consumers, make it. The consumers and travellers choose from the options we offer and which governments permit.
Regenerative Tourism is fashionable but it has been around for a long time. The historical cores of many cities and towns have been regenerated through the visitor economy in Europe and beyond. Jeddah’s the “Historic District” programme is regenerating historic buildings in and around Al Balad, the UNESCO World Heritage Site. At AlUla in north-west Saudi Arabia, dating back to the sixth century BCE is described by Phillip Jones, the Chief Tourism Officer for he Royal Commission for AlUla as “Responsible Tourism in Motion.”