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October 29, 2013

‘A Future dependent on Responsible Tourism’ – Let’s all play a part

Written by Kylie Barton

As organisations across the sector prepare to gather for World Responsible Tourism Day this week in association with the United Nations World Tourist Organisation (UNWTO), we here at Island Spirit thought we would take a little look at what is on the agenda this year.

Kirsty and David at the WTM Fiji stand, 2013

Kirsty and David at the WTM Fiji stand, 2013

The day was developed to try and get travel companies, countries, organisations, employees, and communities to try and think a little differently about the way we travel, and what it means for our environment, and the local people residing in the beautiful places we wish to visit. Now for Island Spirit, this is part of our very make up, which is why we greatly encourage the initiative and wanted to tell you a little more about it.

Starting on Tuesday, the first event of interest is a discussion on ‘responsible tourism approaches to maximising local economic development’. This is an area of particular pertinence for Fiji as previously discussed on Island Spirit, as it currently faces an impending aid contribution reduction and so will be looking to boost sustainable tourism to maintain local development levels. The panellists will discuss how businesses can ensure their business model is innovative enough to address the broad range of challenges in the industry today.

Also of interest on the Tuesday is a talk surrounding the certification culture in Responsible Tourism which is facing the same criticism as many sustainability initiatives as being ‘greenwash’ due to the lack of globalised standardised certification procedures. Surely what is more important is that the industry is moving in the right direction, both environmentally and morally and so the rubber stamp can come later?

Climate change will also be discussed on Tuesday with the decarbonisation question of which a huge burden obviously lays with flight and travel providers but we believe you can also have a much needed affect at a local level too. This year the International Civil Aviation Organisation will decide on a carbon trading scheme or the EU will be forced to impose one – watch this space!

The World Travel Market, London, 2013

The World Travel Market, London, 2013

Wednesday will see an official opening ceremony and a round table on carbon pollution. According to the event website ‘The travel and tourism industry contributes about 5% of global CO2 emissions with air transport accounting 40% of the travel and tourism sector’s emissions and around  2% of global emissions’.

On Wednesday there will also be discussions around the issues of water security (which has been flagged as one of the central concerns for Fiji), and the responsibilities of volunteering programmes to ensure they are a help and not a hindrance to local communities.

The World Responsible Tourism Awards will also be held on Wednesday as the awards celebrate their 10th birthday – Happy Birthday from Island Spirit!

Kirsty at The World Travel Market, London, 2013

Kirsty at The World Travel Market, London, 2013