2019 World Responsible Tourism Awards are now open

2019 World Responsible Tourism Awards are now open

Beware of Greenwash – Why Awards Matter.

The World Responsible Tourism Awards open today for nominations. The judges can only choose from amongst those that apply. So, if you know travel and tourism businesses, destinations and organisations who you think could win please encourage them to submit an application and offer to provide a reference.

If you would like to differentiate yourself from the mass and from the “greenwashers” then don’t hesitate, apply.

It does take a little time to complete the application form but there is no charge for entering and putting the information together about what you do, and the impact of it will motivate your colleagues and provide information that you should consider sharing with your clients.

This year we are looking for:

  • Innovative examples of tourism businesses that have made a demonstrable and significant difference locally to Wildlife and Nature Conservation, initiatives which we hope will inspire and encourage others.
  • Examples of initiatives which have developed practical means of reducing Carbon and other Greenhouse Gas Emissions in any part of the tourism industry.
  • In Benefiting Local People: we are looking for those making particular efforts to benefit neighbouring communities, by providing social, economic or environmental benefits to the community, through training and progression or working with local people to create a local supply of goods or services for purchase by the tourism business or tourists.
  • Examples of Transparent Reporting: businesses and certification schemes where the impact of the initiatives taken to reduce negative and increase positive impacts are communicated to guests, travellers and stakeholders.
  • Innovative examples of initiatives which have Reduced Plastic Waste and which can be applied in the tourism sector by reducing the use of single-use plastics within a destination.
  • Best for Coping with Success, (aka Overtourism)[1] we are looking for examples of attractions and sites where management interventions have reduced the negative impacts on the site and neighbouring communities and improved the visitor experience.

Responsible Tourism and Sustainable Tourism are not the same things. Sustainability and sustainable development are broad aims, concepts too often used in greenwashing. Responsible Tourism, by contrast, is about what travel and tourism businesses, destinations and organisations do to make tourism better, to use tourism to make better places for people to live in.

To win a WTM World Responsible Tourism Award, it’s necessary to answer some very probing questions about what you do, why you do it and the impact your business, destination or organisation has in addressing the issues of sustainability.

 
In opening World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM London in November last year, South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, said: “It’s up to all of us to spread the responsible tourism message loudly, clearly and far and wide.” The Minister pointed to the importance of decarbonising travel and tourism, now an urgent imperative:

“Without massively changed behaviour the world stands to destroy itself,” he said. “Long before then the growth in tourism stands to come to an end. We are perilously close to the point where carbon emissions will irreversibly change the symbiotic life systems that sustain life. If we don’t do this we will remain on the tragic path of being the architects of our own destruction.”

Responsible Tourism requires that communities are consulted, benefit from tourism, and are integrated into tourism development in their neighbourhoods. “Tourists don’t want to be viewed as unwelcome visitors or destroyers of lifestyles, habitat and the environment,” he said. “They want to feel embraced and welcomed and feel that they are making a positive difference to the places they visit.”

You can’t achieve these objectives by merely greenwashing. The Minister concluded

“Let us be the industry that leads the world towards sustainable practices,”…. “If we do this we will ensure there is a world, and one with people living in harmony with nature and each other, and enjoying fulfilling, sustainable tourism experiences.”

This month we are launching Responsible Tourism Awards WTM Latin America, the first awards will be made at the show in 2020. The judging of the WTM Africa Responsible Tourism Awards was completed last week, and they will be presented at WTM Africa in Cape Town on April 10th.

Remember the judges can only award from amongst those that apply – stand out from the crowd.

MORE ON THE AWARDS

[1] The Award certificate will say •     Best for Coping with Success

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Harold is WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, he puts together the flagship Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London which attracts 2000 participants each year and the programmes run at WTM Africa, WTM Latin America and Arabian Travel Market. Harold has worked on 4 continents with local communities, their governments and the inbound and outbound tourism industry. He is Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and chairs the panels of judges for the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the other Awards in the family, Africa, India and Ireland. Harold works with industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists and undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is an Emeritus Professor, and Founder Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which he drafted.

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