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
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.
The below picture really caught my attention this week. It is an incredibly provocative example of our relationship with animals. How does it make you feel? Does it make you want to support the conservation of orangutans or fight to put this one back in the wild?
In a rather timely manner, after my previous post, I read an article about some revelations in emissions caused by the airline industry. I won’t lie, I am silently smug because it supports my argument that the airline industry can do more to improve its efficiency. The International Council on Clean Transport, who are behind the VW emissions scandal, released a report that suggested there was a 51% difference in fuel efficiency between the most pollutant and cleanest airline.
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
What a month and half its been for wildlife conservation! But it seems things are now starting to calm down giving us all some time to catch our breath, brush ourselves down and reflect on recent events. Since Cecil the Lion’s death the media have had a field day and long shall it last! The more publicity this story gets the larger the audiences conservation will be attracted. It’s a welcome step away from the economy and towards subjects that really matter. However, over the past month, an uncomfortable concern has been growing on how beneficial the media really is, especially in relation to its impacts. This time of calm is a good opportunity to revisit the case of Cecil, look back over the medias role and perhaps reinvigorate the hunting argument.
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.
I am still unsure whether holiday companies have grasped the idea that responsible tourism is essential if they are going to keep their heads above the water. Profitability is always the best way to convince holiday companies that responsible tourism is a sensible addition to their products. For example, it provides a competitive advantage and is making its way into holiday itineraries. However, responsible tourism isn’t essential for business but rather an additional cost or a bit of a pain (so much so that many pay other companies to increase their responsible tourism credentials through tokenistic schemes like carbon offsetting) and it is also a lot of extra work for little return. So how do we make responsible travel indispensable?
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.
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?