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White Men in Suits at ITB panels – part 2. Time to tackle the lack of diversity at tourism events

Categories: Blog Posts, Gender
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by Marta Mills (oneplanetblog.com), sustainable tourism specialist and sustainability adviser for the Transcaucasian Trail

 

 

 

Exactly a year ago after ITB Berlin 2017, I wrote White Men in Suits and Sustainable Tourism for PATA’s Sustainability Blog, referring to the nationality, race and gender imbalance of speakers at ITB, but also at other conferences and events in the tourism industry. Has anything changed at ITB2018?

The only non-male panel at ITB CSR Day, 9 March 2018. Still pretty imbalanced.

This article is not meant to provide solutions but simply describe a status quo in relation to the inequality. And I have nothing against people wearing suits. But in this context, the suits represent the (mostly) white men who spend their time behind a desk in a city office block as opposed to working on the ground in tourism destinations. They know how to manage big tourism or airline companies, or are respected academics, but often have little practical knowledge that could then be worth sharing with destination practitioners during ITB panel discussions.

Quick look back at 2017

The whole CSR programme of events last year showed the lack of inclusiveness and balance, but there was one particular session (“How Can Sustainable Travel Offers Be Marketed Successfully?”) that prompted me to write. Seven white men in suits, six Germans and one English, discussing sustainability in tourism.  How ironic.

The “White Men in Suits” panel on sustainable travel at ITB 2017

I wanted (and still want) to find out who and how makes the final decision on the structure of the panels, and why there seem to be the same speakers year after year. Is it really that hard to find a women specialist, or someone from the southern hemisphere? Neither in 2017 nor in 2018 ITB responded to my questions.

Hopes for 2018

Considering a few significant events that sparked the worldwide debate on gender inequality – the Harvey Weinstein case of sexual abuse allegations, the #MeToo movement, now the most recent outrage at unequal pay at the BBC, to name a few – I hoped that the situation at ITB might change this year.

Also, in the written foreword to the  CSR Program, Rika Jean-François, the ITB CSR Commissioner, mentioned that in 2018, the tourism industry will have to deal with numerous challenges, including “gender inequality and discrimination due to sexual orientation (…) If we see how many seminars are still dominated by men, even in the sustainability sector, we must invite women to raise their voice – women are definitively carrying half of heaven on their shoulders”. Wise words. But…

 ITB 2018

Take the panelists for the CSR Program 2018. In Hall 4.1 (Responsible/Adventure Travel hall) on the Big Stage, there were 95 men and 44 women (7-9 March). Discussions in Halls 7.1 saw 78 men and 22 women. But during the ITB CSR Day (!) there were 16 male panelists and only one woman. Three out of four sessions had men-only panels. The last had five men and that one woman. All except two men were German, all were white. Er… Unbelievable?

At the end of this last session, its moderator Matthias Beyer who also moderated last year’s aforementioned “all-men-in-suits” session, pointed out that „one woman joining the panel this year is an improvement but certainly it is not satisfactory“.

Recycled speakers

And if we are comparing these both sessions moderated by Matthias:  three of the panellist were on both panels. That again made me think: who and how selects the panels for ITB? Is there a pool of “recycled speakers” that are always invited, based on some unwritten – or maybe written, somewhere – criteria? Surely, these speakers are experts in their area, but also, surely, there are so many others that never get approached. Why not? Do the organisers even want to go that extra step and go beyond the old, recycled bunch?

Matthias Beyer, Prof. Dr. Edgar Kreilkamp and Norbert Fiebig, participants of panels in 2017 and 2018

 “Others take the decision”

„In general, I totally agree with you that ITB panels require a much better balance in terms of race, nationality and gender“, Matthias Beyer said. I asked him whether he had any say in the selection of the speakers on his panels. „The influence for me as a moderator is limited. I can make suggestions but others take the decision. In 2018 my whole panel was fixed before I came into play“.

Can he refuse to moderate such imbalanced sessions? „To refuse a moderation is certainly an option but then you lose any influence. I prefer to remain involved and to try my very best to initiate and encourage changes“, he said.

OK, so „others take the decion“. That made me think, again, who …

ITB, wake up!

I want to emphasize again that the worldwide perspective doesn’t only come from the European, white middle-aged men in suits. Particularly during debates on supposedly more inclusive and fairer sustainable tourism. When will ITB, WTM and other big events start taking notice?

Does Rika have any impact on the composition of the panels, at least for the CSR Day? If not her, then who?

Hopes for 2019?

 Rika admitted that she was “totally aware of the unbalanced number of female and male speakers at the ITB Convention. I can assure you that I am also trying to change this and as CSR commissioner have discussed the phenomena also with our teams and the relevant co-organizers and scientific directors”.  She added: “You can be sure that I will work on it and readdress it again and again. This is one reason why I initiated the Gender Equality Seminar during ITB 2018 -as a start of a new series. We will support the dialogue and we will keep on going.”

 One seminar is a step in the right direction, but it is a tiny drop in the ocean. I’d like to see more inclusion and more diversity on other panels that not necessarily devoted to gender equality! Is it so much to ask to have a mix across the board to discuss a variety of topics, so this issue of imbalance and inequality doesn’t draw attention and it is not an issue anymore?

Let’s see if I am here this time next year, complaining about white European men in suits at ITB 2019.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author(s) and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters on our blogs and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

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Credit: WWF on medium.com

As Earth Hour 2018 approaches, Jochem Verberne, Director of Global Partnerships at WWF, sets out how companies can put nature at the heart of business for mutual benefit.

For Earth Hour 2018, at 8.30pm local time on March 24th, we are inviting the world to #Connect2Earth to spark a global conversation about our relationship with nature and how we can live more sustainably.

For business, this means asking what your company or sector can do for nature and sustainability rather than what they can do for you, and how enterprise can serve purpose and responsibility.

At WWF, we accompany partners on a transformative journey — from mapping environmental risks and opportunities, through developing joint initiatives, to catalysing sector-wide change and restoring life on Earth.

Read the full article here and find out more about seven ways your business can take the journey toward sustainability, e.g. understanding material impacts and exposure to environmental risk is the starting point.

By WWF for Medium.

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Maya Bay is one of Thailand’s most famous beaches but worries over damage to its coral reefs will close it during low season to help it recover. Photograph: ColorPlayer/Getty Images

The bucket-list beach on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh became famous when it featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, but environmental concerns mean it will close to tourists from June

It is one of the world’s most famous beaches, thanks to its starring role in Danny Boyle’s film of Alex Garland’s bestselling novel, and is often referred to simply as “the beach”. However, this summer Maya Bay, on the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, will be closed to tourists as authorities attempt to reverse decades of damage done to the region’s marine environment.

The closure will take place from June to September, during the island’s low season, in order to give its coral reef time to recover. While similar measures have been introduced on other Thai islands – in 2016 local authorities closed Koh Tachai – it is the first time tourists will be forbidden from visiting Maya Bay.

Read the full article here.

By  for The Guardian.

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Photo credit: Shutterstock

Sharing has become a main driver for our economy. Using underutilised assets allows us to improve efficiency, sustainability and community. Through user-generated web content, and with the growing popularity of renting goods rather than buying them, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, connected, and conscious.

Here are some ways to become a part of this movement:

  • Check out these 14 pioneers of the “share economy” to learn more about what’s out there already.
  • Break it down to a more personal level and incorporate sharing in your everyday life to improve your sustainability efforts on a smaller scale yet with a bigger and long lasting impact.

Do you want to go on a journey to become more sustainable or even ultimately adapt a zero waste lifestyle, but don’t know where to start? Sharing knowledge and tips within a community of like-minded people is the key to success. Consider these three steps to get rolling:

  1. Get to know your neighbourhood: Explore the area you live in to see which services and goods are available locally. Visit nearby markets and keep your eyes open for small businesses that offer local and organic products but may not necessarily have their own brick and mortar store.
  2. Attend events to learn and connect: Browse for festivals, workshops or other sustainability-related events in your neighbourhood or city. Make sure to green your commute when you go. This is an opportunity to connect with local businesses offering organic or sustainable sourced goods and services. Building relationships is essential in the process of creating a stronger community, as knowledge and updates can be shared and accessed more easily in the future. Contribute to the conversation by sharing what you have previously discovered and learned about your neighbourhood.
  3. Grow your community: Raise awareness about causes that matter to you and invite friends and family to join you in an initiative, challenge or at the next event. Start conversations that encourage others to rethink their own behaviour and actions, and support them to change and improve their lifestyles in a sustainable matter.

Walking the talk is not always easy and you may face difficulties, but remember that together you can tackle every challenge more easily!

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Credit: SAIH – The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund

Volunteering programs are expanding rapidly. An increasing number of people spend their holidays or gap years traveling, while at the same time doing something meaningful and different. Language and images can either divide and make stereotypical descriptions – or unify, clarify and create nuanced descriptions of the complex world we live in. It can be difficult to present other people and the surroundings accurately in a brief social media post. Even though harm is not intended, many volunteers and travelers end up sharing images and text that portray local residents as passive, helpless and pitiful – feeding the stereotypical imagery instead of breaking them down. This is your go-to guide before and during your trip. Use these four guiding principles to ensure that you avoid the erosion of dignity and respect the right to privacy while documenting your experiences abroad.

Read the full article on RADI-AID’s principles for social media here and watch their video ‘How to avoid acting like a white savior’ here.

By SAIH – The Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund for RADI-AID.

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Credit: Travindy

The Republic of Palau in the Western Pacific has today launched the Palau Pledge, a world-first eco-initiative that asks all inbound visitors to make a compulsory promise, directly to the children of Palau, to preserve their home before they can enter the country.

The Palau Pledge is a new immigration policy that takes effect this December. Palau has become the first country to update its immigration policy and landing procedures to implement such legislation, aimed at preserving its culture and the beauty of its natural environment for future generations. It also hopes that other countries will follow suit to protect the planet for children worldwide.

The Palau Pledge is based on the Palauan tradition of BUL, a moratorium declared by Palau’s traditional leaders that places an immediate halt to the over-consumption or destruction of a species, place or thing.

Find out more about the Palau Pledge by reading the full article here.

By Travindy for Travindy.

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Guide maps being explained to blind travellers (Credit: The Independent)

One travel company is breaking down barriers and providing opportunities for everyone to explore India

Imagine travelling 2,000km across the country to see a temple you’ve dreamt of visiting, only to discover your family can’t get in. There is no wheelchair access – so your visually impaired father has to carry your wheelchair-bound mother up and down several dozen steps in order to pay homage.

It happened to Neha Arora as a child. Barring the odd school picnic or the visit to grandparents, she has no fond travel memories. It is not that her parents did not like to travel. It is just that, with their special needs, they found it near impossible.

Three decades ago, India was not the friendliest place for travellers with accessibility needs. In 2017, it still isn’t.

Read the full article on why Arora created Planet Abled here.

By Charukesi Ramadurai for The Independent.

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Credit: Shutterstock

 

What does sustainability mean to you personally? How can you engage with issues such as poverty or sustainable consumption that relate to the SDGs?

One approach may be to start by looking at your individual values and establishing a personal sustainability action plan. This should be an achievable, realistic plan to take on a short-term project that you believe in that can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle! Identify changes you would like to make in your daily or weekly activities and start to practice these changes until they become a habit. When establishing your personal sustainability plan, check that it meets the RISE criteria: is it repeatable, inspirational, sustainable, and enjoyable?

There’s no reason to wait till the New Year to make a resolution! Raise awareness now, and take action! Inspire others to join the movement. Remember that challenging yourself or someone else can make a big impact through building strong communities of passionate and like-minded people. Be creative and come up with a plan to make the most of the last month of 2017. For example, how about trying to live a…

FREEcember

…with possible action points such as the following:

  • Try a new approach to your diet: how about a meat-free Monday or milk-/dairy-free week? A dietary shift can help to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately have the positive environmental impact you would like to make.
  • Go plastic-free: shop at a local market to avoid unnecessary packaging, use a reusable water bottle, coffee mug or lunch box and most importantly, say no to using plastic bags! You will help keeping our precious world clean and wildlife safe.
  • Spend a gadget-free Sunday: include some time to unplug and disconnect when planning your weekend or your next getaway.  
  • Enjoy a car-free weekend: if you are relying on your car to commute to work during the week, give your car a rest on the weekend and cut carbon emissions by using public transport or a bicycle to get around. This little change will help to reduce pollution from engines and improve air quality.

 

If this is something you are already doing, maybe you find some more idea with a

DOcember

  • Stay healthy: start a fitness– or yoga-challenge, join a gym class or simply take the stairs instead of an elevator whenever possible.
  • Start a 5-minute journal to become more mindful and live with intention.
  • Recycle and upcycle with do-it-yourself projects to reduce waste to landfill and to reduce waste generated in manufacturing processes! You can also donate unwanted clothes or other household items to a charity to help people in need.
  • Carry a reusable shopping bag with you every day, and keep a reusable drinking cup at your office to purchase your after-lunch refreshment in a eco-friendly way.

 

Your passion is the fire that fuels your action, so keep helpful reminders about why you want to live more sustainably. We dare you to establish a sustainability plan that can help guide your way to a more eco-conscious lifestyle.

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Credit: Shutterstock

 

While you may not have control over choosing the destination for your next business trip it’s possible to make your stay more responsible.

Start with checking the Arcadis Sustainable Cities index and the destination’s website for sustainability features. Tourism Vancouver, for example, has a section on its site dedicated to sustainable tourism. Many cities offer a variety of green initiatives such as themed weeks, mini festivals and food recycling.

If you are attending a MICE event, be sure to ask your event organiser some pertinent questions about the event, such as:

  • Does the event have a sustainability policy?
  • Have you communicated the sustainability commitment to stakeholders?
  • Is the event environmentally certified?
  • What types of environmental practices are in place?

 

Look for ways to incorporate local traditional culture into meetings and conventions (example of Kyoto Culture for meetings Subsidy). Engage and support local communities by visiting farmers markets and restaurants that use locally grown products.

If you plan to explore the destination on a guided tour, ask your tour operator or guide to give details of established environmental guidelines that minimise the impact of tourists upon the environment, culture and community.

Remember to be respectful of the destination and its natural resources by always recycling waste or disposing of it responsibly. Some smart destinations even offer apps to report litter to improve the urban environment. You may also want to find out which buildings have received USGBC’s LEED certification. Exploring such listed buildings at your destination can reveal some interesting tips.

When getting around at the destination, the journey matters. Check with your accommodation or meeting organiser for shuttle bus services, if any, to reduce the use of taxis. Choose local public transport and shuttle services, particularly when travelling to and from the airport. Look for transport options such as cycle-sharing (example of Chicago’s Divy). If you are in a group you may also want to consider using car-sharing services such as Uber Pool.

If you feel inspired and would like your city to become a green meetings destination, check out the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s criteria for destinations and the EarthDay.org resource for Green Cities.

For more guidelines on hosting green events, check out TCEB’s Sustainable Events Guide.

Read more about being a responsible business traveller: PATA Responsible Business Travel Guidelines.

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Credit: Travindy

Singapore, 11 October 2017 – Mandai Park Holdings (MPH) announced today the appointment of Banyan Tree Holdings (Banyan Tree) as the operator of an eco-friendly resort to be located within the new integrated nature and wildlife destination at Mandai. This partnership marks the debut of the award-winning, Singapore-based hospitality company on home ground after its global success.

Integrated with Mandai’s natural surroundings, it is envisioned the eco-friendly resort will provide an immersive stay close to nature, offering unique experiences that inspire care for biodiversity and sustainable behaviour. It will provide, for the first time, the opportunity for visitors to stay over in a full-service accommodation at the doorstep of Singapore’s wildlife parks. Guests will be able to enjoy and explore the precinct’s array of offerings, including its five wildlife parks, nature-themed indoor attraction and public green spaces.

Read the full article on the new destination in Singapore here.

By Travindy.

 

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