Sustainability’s Competitive Advantage

Peoples ethical spending has always been of great interest. After meeting a particular customer I wondered if sustainability was finally becoming part of consumerism… Could it be possible that people are beginning to think of ethics first?

The customers very first question was;

‘I am looking for a responsible holiday where I can make a positive impact on Namibia, how does Responsible Travel’s holidays provide this?‘.

Sustainability and social consciousness has suddenly been given a competitive advantage. So perhaps it is time for businesses to move fluffy, tokenism charity work into real business practices?

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The Responsible Tourist; What Do They Look For?

Many may say the responsible tourist looks for ethics, social consciousness and supporting the local population economically. But really the bottom line is EXPERIENCE. Working in responsible tourism I occasionally get asked about the political, social and economic benefits of the holiday but this always comes second. So what does a responsible tourist look for? What are the most common questions? Here are a few of my regulars…

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Last Chance Tourism; Go Before it’s too late!

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!

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Tiger Temple; whos to blame?

The warning signs have been around for a very long time. Responsible Travel has been campaigning for its closure for years, Born Free and other NGO’s have been screaming out to people to stop going. There are even films on YouTube showing tigers being hit so what went wrong, why did it stay open for so long? Why are we all surprised that 40 dead cubs were found in the freezer when the National Geographic linked it to a black market trade? Continue reading

Airlines, You Are Not Immune to Climate Change Criticism!

Have you started to think about your winter holidays yet, a short break skiing or snowboarding perhaps? But have you stopped to consider what these holidays would be like without snow? Pretty dull I would have thought… As the world warms up these holidays could become just a distant memory, but do you believe it’s going to happen in your lifetime? Honestly, I think we are going to come face to face with our impacts sooner than most think as North America ski industry melts before our eyes and the Maldives begins to sink. It seems we are disconnected from our holidays and the effects it is having elsewhere in the world. Continue reading

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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