The Sneaky Mainstreaming of Responsible Tourism

Tourists are now searching for something a little different in their holidays and marketers have been cashing in on the demand. Words like ‘authentic’ are now being spread across many holiday itineraries like its tomato ketchup; itineraries cannot do without it but tourists are noticing things still taste as bland as ever. The general multinational holiday providers such as First Choice haven’t been able to keep up with the demand and tourists are beginning to look elsewhere. This change is opening up huge opportunities for smaller, more specialised travel companies such as the ones offered by Responsible Travel.

As tourists start to branch into new possibilities the larger, more general operators need to be reactive and anticipate the trends. It is still the case that Disney Land, Benidorm, cruises and the all inclusive holidays make up the largest chunk of tourism revenue. But amazingly, responsible tourism is forcing its way in and popping up in places you would least expect.

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Is this the end of volunteer tourism as we know it?

The answer is, I hope so……

Recently Orphanage Volunteering took a beating (and rightly so) as volunteers unwittingly found themselves fueling child exploitation when they intended to do the complete opposite. But will this have an impact on the rest of the tourism volunteering industry, will it also have to step into the ring to defend itself?

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Who’s Talking About Responsible Tourism?

Responsible and sustainable should no longer be a fancy phrase travel companies use, or words placed in CSR reports to shut the campaigners up. They are quickly becoming a necessity. I hope this is the year that the tourism industry will awake from its perfect dream of profits, development and increase tourist numbers to the realization that this is a business model that is not sustainable unless responsible tourism is taken seriously.

Working in the industry, I understand how important WTM (World Travel Market) can be for obtaining and spending marketing budgets, creating new partnerships and promoting products. But within business to business discussions, how much of it includes the essential responsible tourism? You would hope quite a lot, especially as it is essential to protecting and even enhancing their product! But in the real world, I bet responsible tourism is barely touched upon. Off course, Wednesday 5th November is World Responsible Tourism Day which is kicked off by the 11th World Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM, but how much is responsible tourism discussed on the exhibition’s floor, during business meetings, in making new deals, when creating partnerships? DMO’s and Tourist boards are just not interested, they are blinkered by quick profits, so how can we change this? Perhaps these 4 points may help travel organisations realize that ethical, sustainable and responsible tourism sells?

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