On the World Responsible Tourism Day 2013 (promoted by the International Coalition for Responsible Tourism and held in Spain in its 4th edition), it is necessary to remember that the inevitable concern of the tourism industry for its survival amidst the successive crises should not make us lose our goal; our sustainability, responsibility, global and long-term goals. This is why on this Day we wanted to share some interesting environmental and social sustainability initiatives linked to tourism.
These positive initiatives are aimed at understanding and changing the relationship of tourism with the environment and the social community, focusing on various islands, as this was the key topic of discussion on the World Responsible Tourism Day 2013.
Day we wanted to share some interesting environmental and social sustainability initiatives linked to tourism. These positive initiatives are aimed at understanding and changing the relationship of tourism with the environment and the social community, focusing on various islands, as this was the key topic of discussion on the World Responsible Tourism Day 2013.
What we are most interested in at the Spanish Centre for Responsible Tourism when celebrating this day is to inspire many other initiatives such as this one, disseminate them and create a network of similar initiatives, that inspire actors in the tourism industry to include sustainability measures, no matter how small, in every destination, in every product, in every service.
Likewise, the abundance and impact of waste caused by tourism, leisure, cruises and maritime transport which we learnt about in the presentation by Vertidos Cero, is impressive and forces us to think about the need to increase awareness, legislation and voluntary self-control systems in all areas of tourism production. If the tourism industry continues like this, it will be both victim and perpetrator in a process of degradation of the sea and sun and beach destinations that can still be prevented. The SoliDive initiative for solidarity diving reminds us that in the large sun and beach tourism and holiday resorts we still need to gradually include the local population; supporting them so they shall be competitive in the philosophical framework of inclusive businesses. Diving is the perfect tool to transform the situation of small fishing communities, in this case in the Dominican Republic, that are increasingly seeing their possibilities of survival limited by plundered seas.
The role of professional and business associations is essential for this strategy, and that is why we are especially pleased to have counted on AEPT (Spanish Association of Tourism Professionals) for several years now as a necessary partner to promote sustainable and responsible tourism. We are also pleased to have had on this day representatives from the tourism business world, academia, NGOs and independent professionals devoted to responsible tourism in all fields; and just as important as all of the above, were the tourism students who guarantee the brilliant future of sustainable tourism.
As for KOAN Consulting, we presented the work conducted in São Tomé and Príncipe, financed by AECID, to include some of the most disadvantaged communities of the island in the catering and tourism industry; enabling them as entrepreneurs and through training in craftwork, ethnobotany and food and agriculture transformation based on the Museum of Coffee in the community of Monte Café.
We also presented the work carried out as part of the Sustainable Tourism Development Plan for La Romana-Bayahibe (Dominican Republic), financed by the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) focused on creating a local, alternative and socially responsible tourism offer for tourists visiting sun and beach resorts. Within that same project, we created the OGD (Destination Management Organization) model for La Romana-Bayahibe, to ensure local development sustainability linked to an ever more responsible sun and beach tourism.
Finally, we presented the ongoing work to increase competitiveness of the ecotourism hotel Orango Park on the island of Orango (Guinea-Bissau), commissioned by the NGO CBD-Hábitat; improving their production and international promotion, always favouring the local community and their future, and following a model of world-class ecotourism.
Amidst this positive atmosphere, it pains us to see the very many symptoms and evidence that successive crises are leading to a loss of concern and resources for more sustainable tourism.
With regard to the tourism industry, management and sustainability certification systems such as Travelife, Rainforest Alliance or Green Globe help businesses and tourism destinations organise their ideas, prepare strategies and plan high impact actions.
Aside from this, there are already available in the market endless cases and models of action that tourism businesses and entities can implement to achieve sustainability, starting with simple and inexpensive measures that are at the same time easily understood and accepted by employees and tourists.
Neither should we forget that the simple catalogue of voluntary sustainability measures, if well communicated regularly to the market in a clear and motivating manner, can be enough for consumers to understand the commitment and identification of a tourism business with sustainability.
Likewise, these measures should be as interactive as possible in order to enhance tourist participation and commitment. It is also necessary to involve intermediaries and travel agents in the major issuing markets that are increasingly demanding visible sustainability measures given the pressure of ever more informed and aware consumers. Naturally it is a major challenge to increase involvement of responsible tourists; but the greatest challenge of all is to inform, raise awareness and engage the major mass tourism currents worldwide.
In an established tourist destination such as Spain, the pathway to sustainability is finding too many setbacks with the crisis, initiatives are being abandoned and people are being wasted. Without sustainability the road towards the necessary competitiveness will be no bed of roses either. If we apply this same context to development cooperation, the situation is similar, as the huge cuts in cooperation funds have interrupted sustainable tourism initiatives in many emerging countries. The situation can be considered disastrous for the future of sustainable tourism in destinations and micro-destinations around the world.
It is clear that we need to continue working actively so that sustainable tourism is merely the inevitable consequence of a more sustainable lifestyle that spreads to all world destinations. The World Responsible Tourism Day and a few dozens of people in a room may seem insufficient for such an ambitious goal, but celebrating this day is enormously symbolic, as more and more countries and entities join us. CETR, AEPT and all our members wish to continue working towards a more sustainable future in tourism, the islands and all over the world.
To see the conference videos and download the presentations please click here.
Spanish Centre for Responsible Tourism
For more information:
Raquel Mendes – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tlf: 003491 559 63 20