Today sees the publication of the finalists for the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM, the awards will be presented at World Travel Market London on World Responsible Tourism Day, Wednesday November 4th.
After intense debate by the judging panel, 37 organisations have been chosen across 12 categories, recognising achievements from animal welfare campaigns to accessible tourism practices in one of the most diverse lists of finalists the World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM has ever seen. The organisations, which range from tourism industry giants such as TUI Travel UK & Ireland, to tiny individual enterprises such as Cnoc Suain in Ireland, or Felin Talgarth Mill in Wales, UK, are based in 20 countries worldwide, with Cyprus, Hong Kong and Finland represented for the first time ever.
The Gold and Solver winners will be announced and finally the overall winner in 2015.
The list of winners can be found on the World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM website: http://www.responsibletravel.com/awards/media/press-release-2015-finalists.htm
The Awards can contribute to the success of those who win and spread the ideas, we look for businesses and organisation which have innovative ideas that others will take up. Back in 2011 Unseen Tours were joint overall winners. They were only established in 2010 and we do not usually award such new businesses – but this was such a good idea that we wanted to support it and encourage others to replicate it around the world.
Why these awards matter: the Unseen Tours Story
In 2010 they organised tours for 400, they now show 3,000 people a year around London; some locals and some international and domestic tourists. In 2015 Unseen Tours have just announced that bookings in the first half of 2015 were up more than 114% on the same period in 2014.
Cris, one of Unseen Tours’ six homeless and formerly homeless guides explains why the tours are so popular:
“There are lots of tours to choose from in London, but we aim to offer something a bit different, to give people a unique perspective that they won’t find on other tours or in guide books. That’s why Unseen Tours appeal to Londoners who have lived here all their lives, as well as people who are visiting the city for the first time. When people come on my Brick Lane tour, I want them to have fun, to be entertained, to learn new things about London, but I also hope that after their tour they might see homeless people in a different light and better understand how gentrification of the area is impacting people’s lives.”
“Unseen Tours are NOT part of the poverty tourism agenda – i.e. voyeuristically and superficially pointing out economically and ‘socially’ deprived areas and the people within them. Instead, the tours aim to show London’s historical and cultural quirks in an unusual and entertaining way and, where issues of homelessness are covered, to make a point about the state of the world we live in and highlight issues of social injustice. Crucially, our tours are not tours of the homeless but, rather, with them – an important distinction that reverses the power balance between our homeless guides and ‘mainstream’ society, as the guides are the voices of authority who lead us on the tours.”
Similar tours are now offered in Barcelona , Bath , Berlin, Melbourne, Paris , Prague. In Seattle there is an expensive three-day course in “applied homelessness”, retailing at 2,000 USD – it may be a parody.