By Professor Harold Goodwin
On November 5th, World Responsible Tourism Day, there will be events taking place around the world as businesses and tourism organisations demonstrate what can be done to make better tourism, to make tourism better for local communities and their environment and for tourists. For those in London the highlight of the day is the announcement of the winners of the World Responsible Tourism Awards which this year will be held on the floor of World Travel Market where the business is done.
Who will you nominate?
The Responsible Tourism programme at World Travel Market, this year over all four days, is designed to educate, inspire and challenge the industry to do more – to contribute to making tourism better. We are looking for the Responsible Tourism heroes of 2014.
All those who are invited to the Awards ceremony are great examples of people who have, through tourism, contributed to making the world a better place; winners or highly commended they have made a difference. Often the difference between the winner and the highly commendeds in the category is small; the judging can be tight and onerous. Each year, in most categories, the standard rises, these are prestigious awards and to win or to be highly commended is to stand up and stand out. We are looking for theleaders, the innovators and the outliers, the people setting the pace, the people that the judges believe others should be emulating.
This year there are eleven categories – there will be an overall winner and a People’s Choice as well.
Best animal welfare initiative: a tourism business or organisation leading the way in their approach to the care, wellbeing and dignity of animals. The category is new this year – there is lots of good work being done, this is the chance to recognise it.
Best aviation programme for carbon reduction: won last year by Sawadee Reizen which adopted direct “point-to-point” flights as the most effective way of reducing the carbon footprint of trips, resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions by an average of 10%. The judges will be looking for a business which can demonstrate real reductions in carbon pollution per seat or a campaign able to demonstrate that it has made a difference.
Best for beach tourism: new this year, the judges are looking for a business or organisation which can demonstrate leadership in responsible tourism policies and practices in a beach setting, positive integration and relationships with local communities, and proven achievements in maintaining / conserving beach environments.
Best city hotel: a new category – Responsible Tourism applies in urban as well as rural areas the judges are looking for evidence of past achievements and ideas which can be adapted by other city hoteliers.
Best cultural heritage attraction: we are looking for an inspirational example of memorable and enjoyable holiday attractions where the traditions and culture of a community are at the heart of the experience.
Best destination: won last year by Bonito in Brazil we are looking for a holiday destination setting an inspirational and influential example for Responsible Tourism.
Best for engaging people & culture: a long established category with some amazing winners from Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. The judges are committed to the idea that holidays are better and more enjoyable when they’re organised with the local community and culture in mind, respect is a core value of responsible tourism. The Best for engaging people and culture category seeks to shine a light on the best examples of holidays which involve and celebrate local people, traditions and ways of life.
Best for people with disabilities: new this year we are looking for examples which will inspire change. This is about a great deal more than wheelchair access. The judges are looking for a tourism attraction or facility making holiday experiences accessible and enjoyable for all, making everyone equally welcome whatever their physical or mental challenges.
Best for poverty reduction: some stunning businesses have won this category in previous years, Village Ways and Reality Tours in India, Soria Moria Boutique Hotel in Cambodia, Sockmob Events/Unseen Tours in London. The judges are looking for a tourism organisation with a creative and long-term approach to reducing poverty among local communities.
Best short film for responsible tourism: a new category celebrating a short film or documentary that encourages and inspires travellers to holiday responsibly. The judges are looking for a short-form film that inspires travellers to holiday responsibly. We want examples that showcase how responsible tourism makes better, more enjoyable holiday experiences. This can also include raising awareness of impacts of tourism or looking at the benefits to local people and destinations.
Best for wildlife conservation: a well-established category won in 2012 by the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve in Chile and in 2011 by the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, Malawi. The judges are looking for great holiday experiences with progressive and sustainable programmes in wildlife and habitat conservation, measures of success and ideas which can be adapted and developed by tourism providers around the world.
If you know of a business or organisation which you believe the judges should consider for an Award this year then please nominate them – to be recognised in the World Responsible Tourism Awards they must first be nominated, please do so online today.