So the UN has declared 2017 the year of sustainable tourism for development. Tourism is responsible for 10% of the world’s GDP and has huge developmental potential for countries with limited exports but are rich in cultural and environmental experiences. 2015 saw 1.2 billion international travellers, it is time to take this growth seriously, ensuring it has positive rather than negative impacts.
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?
The English traveller often falls back on the English Foreign Travel Advice (FCO) for… well holiday advice. But the FCO world is a scary place, everywhere is either horrible, diseased, full of terrorists, robbers, protesters, guns, drugs… you get the idea. It has become the ‘google self-diagnosis’ for holidays; if you start googling the symptoms of your illness you will soon find you have cancer rather than a simple cold! The point is, if you look for trouble, you will find it and ABTA/ATOLS fear-mongering hasn’t helped. Bonding schemes have actually created insecurities rather than security and a trust issue amongst customers. Furthermore, due to the media, outbreaks like Ebola not only hurt the epicentre but also the surrounding countries, although a serious concern the Zika virus is starting to echo this effect.