If you had a question about an issue related to responsible tourism, where would you look online to find the answer? Should you be looking for responsible, sustainable, green, ethical or eco? Type ‘responsible tourism online discussion’ or ‘sustainable travel forums’ in a browser, and you will find many answers. But look a little deeper and you might see that most of the people posting on there are now spamming and promoting their holidays, or that it only has 12 members, or that the last time a question was asked on the forum was 2010.
Managing successful online forums is difficult. Too few members and the discussion lacks vitality. But if there is no filter to stop people posting adverts and spam, or to control personal abuse, the forum becomes bloated and useless. The following places are all – currently – excellent places to discuss issues related to responsible tourism with active, thoughtful, respectful users. As with everywhere online, they have their good days and bad, sometimes discussions take fire, sometimes they get ignored. And they get spammed from time to time. I am sure there are other places I have not yet found, and welcome people suggesting them.
The best places to discuss responsible tourism online
There are currently two good twitter chats taking place regularly to discuss responsible tourism issues. #RTTC (Responsible Tourism Twitter Chat) takes place every Wednesday at 6pm GMT. Four questions are posted during the hour, on topics ranging from volunteering to golf tourism. It is pitched at both professionals and travellers eager to learn more. #Euroeco also takes place on a Wednesday, but only once a month and is more industry focussed, with topics so far including marketing and certification. To take part, set up a column in a Twitter reader like Tweetdeck to follow the relevant hashtag, and whenever you contribute, include the chat’s hashtag in your tweet.
The two best places to discuss general responsible tourism issues on Facebook are Responsible Tourism Networking (which grew out of responsible tourism networking events that started in the evening after World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM), and Irresponsible Tourism, which is run by WTM’s responsible tourism advisor, and co-author of this blog, Harold Goodwin. However, more often these discussions grow out of follow up comments to articles that people have shared rather than open discussions around a topic.
There are several responsible tourism groups on Linkedin, and Responsible Travel and Tourism is probably my favourite right now, with discussions often spawning long thoughtful contributions from people across the world. Whereas Facebook posts vanish after a few days, discussions on Linkedin remain live for several months, making it much easier to look back and reflect on various angles on an issue. In addition, the very nature of Linkedin makes it a good place to connect with likeminded members of the industry.
Online Forum – Outbounding
Although Outbounding is at its heart a forum for the sharing of good travel blogs, its founders are committed to responsible tourism, and its discussions – see for example a recent conversation about whether Travel Blogger show TBEX is right to offer dolphin tours – are some of the most intelligent around.
Online Forum – Tripadvisor
Compared to the size of its forums discussing other issues, Tripadvisor’s ecotourism forum is tiny – but with the size of the community you are potentially reaching, plus the potential for its Greenleaders scheme to grow awareness at a mainstream level, it is worth a look, especially if you are more interested in what the general public thinks than people working in the industry. And if you want to discuss issues concerning a particular property or tour operator, this is the place to start.
Sites dedicated to specific issues:
For whales, dolphins, orangutans and certain country specific issues:
Responsibletravel.com is developing a series of short online guides to various destinations and activities that aim to present a more balanced portrayal of what is good and bad about destination or type of holiday. As such these aren’t open forums where you can post questions to start new threads, however there is an opportunity to engage and debate the issues raised in the guides.
For Safari and wildlife conservation
Safaritalk is the place to go top discuss anything to do with safari and wildlife conservation. Run by Matthew Wilkinson, it’s an incredible labour of love, filled with not just discussion forums but also searching interviews with just about everyone that matters in the world of safari. With the issue of poaching being such a hot topic right now, Safaritalk is an essential breath of honest, fresh air.
For volunteering and voluntourism
The two facebook pages – Responsible Volunteering and Better Volunteering – of the organisation People and Places, which campaigns tirelessly for responsible volunteering are forthright and direct, sharing key articles and raising all the issues affecting an industry that is in the headlines right now. If you want to get your head round the many issues affecting this sector, or get into a discussion with some of the people who know it best, this is the place to go. and
This blog is also now a permanent page on this site here, which I will keep updated with new quality pages and ideas and remove any that become useless. So please comment below or contact me to help me build the most useful page of resources for these discussions.