93% of corals have been impacted by abnormally warm waters. Coral bleaching has spread around the globe, devastating reef mortality and resulting in a sense of urgency amongst some tourists. A feeling of ‘I have to get there before its too late!’ is sweeping across many travellers. This has created a form of tourism that I have come to loathe the most, ‘last-chance Tourism’. It suggests a feeling of hopelessness, that we are too late and nothing can be done. Conservation soon gets replaced by an acceptance of demise and we extract as much as we can before it disappears. This needs to change and fast!
I think it’s fair to say that large ship cruises are currently one of the undisputed champions of irresponsible tourism. This made it even more surprising when Carnival Corporation announced last week that they are stepping down from the podiums top spot and entering the world of responsible tourism. I had to double check it wasn’t April 1st before I believed it. At first, I was pleased, perhaps they have finally given in to the long list of campaigns and criticisms to become more responsible! However, when a company that was voted 3rd in the top ten corporate criminals list just last year suddenly decides to become the next powerhouse for ‘sustained and long-lasting positive impact’, alarm bells started ringing and concerns start to bubble up.
However, I have previously suggested that perhaps it’s time to work with the irresponsible companies to improve their approaches to tourism rather than fighting them. Nobody can deny that if cruises were responsible they would be a huge force for good. Unfortunately, cruises will always be popular and will not disappear. Therefore, it should be music to my ears when I hear Carnival suggest they ‘harness the assets and resources of the world’s largest travel and leisure company and combine them with the talents and hearts of those working in social enterprises around the world’. In this blog, I have decided to delve into their press release with an open mind and give them a chance to see how they are stepping into 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.