“Sustainable practices navigate successfully through time and space, while others crack up and vanish.” – Bruce Sterling
Last week travel operators, hospitality organizations and professionals celebrated Responsible Tourism Day, an event introduced five years ago by the World Travel Market (WTM) Responsible Tourism Day and supported by UNWTO. Its vision includes several key elements: bring the travel and hospitality industries together to educate travelers on responsible behavior; explore how travel destinations can be more sustainable; and best practices to encourage the debate and drive change of key environmental-related issues.
One of the most interesting aspects of this event and movement is it provides different individuals and groups the opportunity to drive a range of positive messages, helping take the tourism and hospitality industry forward. To show the breadth of these messages, each driven by an individual interpretation of ‘responsible’, here are a few items that caught our eye:
– An interesting post from Harold Goodwin, professor of Responsible Tourism Management at Leeds Metropolitan University and founding member of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, created at the first World Responsible Tourism Day. Professor Goodwin discusses how the responsible tourism movement has developed to cover all forms of tourism – including individuals with disabilities or limited financial means – and has worked to “escape the tiny ecotourism niche”.
– In a news story titled ‘Responsible Tourism Day: Ban plastic bags for a healthier environment’, Pakistan’s The Express Tribune, associated with the International Herald Tribune, wrote about high school students in the region who went around to local shops asking them to stop using plastic bags. The students also joined local government officials in a walk, holding placards which said: “Say No to Plastic Bags”. According to The Tribune, 500 million plastic bags are used each year, and it takes between 60 to 100 million barrels of oil to make those bags. It’s estimated that it takes 10,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose.
– In a passionate blog post on The Travel Word, Ethan Gelber encourages individuals to get involved and take action, highlighting how sustainable, responsible practices are common across so many industries. Gelber notes that while there are still challenges, unsustainable practices are frequently being replaced in the travel industry.
As a team that has been encouraging, challenging and enabling sustainable practices across the hospitality, government and education sectors for the last 35 years, we couldn’t agree more with the sentiments of these articles and the mission behind Responsible Tourism Day. We hope that individuals and organizations alike will continue to embrace responsible, environmentally-friendly actions, and that sustainable education remains at the forefront of change.