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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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Voluntourism. It sounds like a beautiful way to combine service and travel. Indeed, many volunteers are flocking to countries, usually for short periods, to Asia and Africa to help children, to save endangered animals or to build houses and schools.

 

However, this form of tourism arguably does more harm than good. It is suggested that voluntourism perpetuates stereotyping, creates dependence on aid and aggravates symptoms of neo-colonialism.  

 

When conducted correctly, however, your community, NGO, or business may benefit from voluntourism. Your organisation needs to stand out from the industry that makes profits from the poverty of local communities in order to have a promising future.

 

Here are some suggestions on how to make the best of your voluntourism initiative:

 

  1. Find your match

Balance the motives of the potential volunteer with those of your company. It is not beneficial to employ volunteers who just want to pad their CVs. Give preference to those who are willing to contribute more time, remembering that it takes some time for a person to settle into a role and on that precious resources are often spent training or wasted in high turnover situations.

 

Do not work with young people who are eager to save a whole community but rather those who are willing to learn from a different culture and who are aware that they are not coming as a type of ‘superhero’.

 

  1. Preparation is key

One of the most important success factors is to match the expectations of the volunteers with your standards. To guarantee a successful tenure, consider hosting a preparation meeting. It is not only important to brief the volunteers about risks and expectations but also about the culture and history of the destination. This will help them to understand the community prior to arrival. Follow up on this meeting with regular discussions during their stay.

 

  1. Community involvement

Remember that the community is also a key stakeholder in voluntourism. To create a lasting and positive impact, match the communities’ expectations with that of your organisation and volunteers. Gather ideas on how a volunteer may engage with the community and where a helping hand is needed. Discuss how voluntourism projects may benefit the community in the longer term. It is also helpful to communicate motives and cultural differences of the volunteers.

 

 

Voluntourism is a controversial subject. It is thus imperative to make special considerations for your programming to create a win-win situation for all parties involved: your volunteers, community and organisation. If undertaken correctly, this form of tourism can be very rewarding and make a contribution to world peace and mutual understanding.

 

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Credit: World Economic Forum.

Many urban centers, like Shanghai and Shenzhen, have gone from modest fishing villages to booming megacities.

 

China is rapidly urbanizing. More than half of China’s population now lives in cities, and over 100 Chinese cities have over 1 million people each.

Many urban centers, like Shanghai and Shenzhen, have gone from modest fishing villages to booming megacities. Others have become mega-ghost cities — high-tech (often luxury) urban centers that fail to attract many residents.

Here’s a look at some of China’s largest real estate developments that will change its cities even more.

 

By Leanne Garfield from World Economic Forum

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PATA members are invited to submit entries for the 2017 Skal International Sustainable Tourism Awards. The awards programme features one new category – Tourism Destinations – as meaningful support to the UNWTO’s ‘International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development’.

 

Any organisation is invited to submit entries. Membership of Skal is not a required and there is no charge for participating in these prestigious awards. Deadline for entries is 30 June.

 

PATA Chief of Staff Dale Lawrence is also President of Skal International Thailand. He said, “This is a fantastic opportunity for public and private sector organisations to display publicly their support for the principles and objectives of sustainable tourism. I commend this awards programme to all PATA members.”

 

The awards will be presented at the Skal International World Congress in Hyderabad on 6 October.

 

More details at: https://www.skal.org/en/sustainableguidelines

 

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CC BY-NC 2.0 Clive Derra

 

UK supermarket giant Tesco is not exactly popular with the deeper green environmentalist crowd. In fact, when they planned on opening one of their Tesco Express convenience stores in my hometown of Bristol, it literally resulted in riots.

But while there’s legitimate concern around the oversized power that Tesco wields to transform our high streets, it’s hard to deny that the company has also made some substantial and important commitments to sustainability. Whether it’s tackling food waste, deploying electric vans for deliveries or housing employees on the roofs of its stores, many of its initiatives reach beyond the ubiquitous promotion of reusable bags or selling organic produce.

Now Business Green reports that the company is making a firm, long-term commitment to the fight against climate change. Specifically, that commitment includes a promise to slash its own operational greenhouse emissions 60% by 2025, and by 100% by 2050. It has also promised to run on 100% renewable energy by 2030. In the process, it became the first UK supermarket to have its climate change plans approved by the Science Based Targets (SBT) initiative.

 

Read the full article here.

By Sami Grover from The Treehugger

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Credit: Shutterstock

This year is the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. UN World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General Taleb Rifai declared it gave:

… a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued.

Sustainable tourism comes from the concept of sustainable development, as set out in the 1987 Brundtland report. Sustainable development is:

… development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

British environmental activist George Monbiot argued that, over the years, sustainable development has morphed into sustained growth. The essence of his argument is that little resolve exists to go beyond rhetoric. This is because environmental crises require we limit the demands we place on it, but our economies require endless growth.

At the moment, economic growth trumps environmental limits, so sustainability remains elusive.

 

Read the full article here. Written by Freya Higgins-Desbiolles for The Conversation. 

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Photocredit: The Drum

 

Last month, the region of Navarre in Spain welcomed senior members of the travel and tourism sector from across the globe to the eighth International Congress on Rural Tourism. The conference brought thought leaders and specialists together to discuss and debate key themes including sustainability, digitalisation and technology, innovation in service offering and the value of partnerships.

Over two days in Pamplona, delegates heard from a range of keynote speakers and panelists from over six countries, including the managing director of Glasgow-born agency After Digital, David Johnstone. We caught up with David to find out more…

For the past eight years, this international gathering has supported the development of stronger international business links and knowledge share, ensuring the sector firmly focuses on what lies ahead. María Ángeles Ezquer, president of the Navarre Federation for Rural Tourism, stated: “Long-term sustainability is all about sharing resources both natural and other (people, financial, etc) and sharing the wealth. This goes beyond eco-tourism to also incorporate education and communication.”

With travel more affordable and accessible than ever, rural tourism brands are faced with the challenge of competing with the major cities and being heard in a very noisy marketplace. These, often small in resource and headcount, businesses are having to evolve rapidly, adopting new marketing channels and skills, and being innovative to make budgets go further.

Read the full article here.

By Andy Black from The Drum

 

 

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Photograph by Josh Haner

In the Pearl River Delta, breakneck development is colliding with the effects of climate change.

GUANGZHOU, China — The rains brought torrents, pouring into basements and malls, the water swiftly rising a foot and a half.

The city of Dongguan, a manufacturing center here in the world’s most dynamic industrial region, was hit especially hard by the downpour in May 2014. More than 100 factories and shops were inundated. Water climbed knee-high in 20 minutes, wiping out inventory for dozens of businesses.

Next door in Guangzhou, an ancient, mammoth port city of 13 million, helicopters and a fleet of 80 boats had to be sent to rescue trapped residents. Tens of thousands lost their homes, and 53 square miles of nearby farmland were ruined. The cost of repairs topped $100 million.

Chen Rongbo, who lived in the city, saw the flood coming. He tried to scramble to safety on the second floor of his house, carrying his 6-year-old granddaughter. He slipped. The flood swept both of them away.

Flooding has been a plague for centuries in southern China’s Pearl River Delta. So even the rains that May, the worst in the area in years, soon drifted from the headlines. People complained and made jokes on social media about wading through streets that had become canals and riding on half-submerged buses through lakes that used to be streets. But there was no official hand-wringing about what caused the floods or how climate change might bring more extreme storms and make the problems worse.

Read the full article about the threat of rising waters for Chinese cities here.

By  from The New York Times

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Travelling breaks down barriers and promotes diversity. Travel is about shared experiences and building friendships. It is a great way to learn understanding for different customs.

If we teach our children how to make the right travel choices, it can not only benefit them, but it will also make the world a better place.

 

Here are some ways to travel more responsibly with your children:

 

  1. Choose sustainable transport

Explain to children how biking, walking or using public transport is much better for the planet and then choose one of those modes of transport every day during your holiday. Understanding the impact of your carbon footprint will help children to grow into more responsible travellers. Read more on green transportation here.

 

  1. Choose responsible destinations

Make time to plan your trip together with your children – research each destination’s commitment to the protection of people, animals, sites of important historic interests and, of course, the environment. Participating in this process enables younger travellers to learn about the importance of sustainable and responsible travel. Read about top destinations that enforce sustainable tourism here.

 

  1. Get off the beaten path

Choose places where you may connect with locals and learn about their traditions. Building closer connections with a place is much more enjoyable and inspiring for you and your children. Consider asking your tour operator about participating in a community based tour or a local handcraft activity.

 

  1. Encounter wildlife with respect

Teach your children a few basic rules and lead by example: use a quiet voice, do not touch, feed or get too close to wildlife and always obey the rules and instructions.

 

Showing children how to travel responsibly now will shape them into empathic and compassionate travellers and more learned members of society. And by travelling with them as responsible adults it’s a fascinating learning experience for the entire family.

Read more on sustainable travel with children here.

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Sustainability in tourism isn’t just about re-using that hotel towel a second day. It’s thinking deeply about how visitors get in and out of a destination while doing the least harm.

— Jason Clampet

With 2017 being the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, now is as good a time as ever to take stock of the opportunities and challenges faced by tourism providers trying to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

While tourism is important to many local and national economies, overcrowding is changing the perception of the benefits of mass tourism. Spain is a prime example of a country struggling with its popularity.

Barcelona’s relationship with tourism has been shaky for a number of years now. Already in 2014, the documentary “Bye Bye Barcelona” highlighted the negative impact of mass tourism on the city. Locals fear that they will be priced out of the housing market, eventually resulting in Barcelona losing population diversity and character. The local government has stopped issuing licences for new hotels and has banned change-of-use permits required for holiday lets.

And Barcelona is not alone. As of 2017, Santorini is limiting the number of cruise visitors to 8,000 per day. Local activists in Venice have asked government to ban cruise ships stopping in its harbour, as cruise visitors have quintupled in the past 15 years. Cinque Terre on the Italian coast is capping the number of visitors to 1.5 million per year. Popular attractions including Machu Picchu and Mount Everest are capping the number of visitors and require visitors to be accompanied by a recognised guide, and Zion National Park is looking at proposals to limit visitors through a reservation system.

Capping tourists is a drastic measure, and surely not something destinations would like to do. It is often seen as a last resort, and the fact that more and more tourist destinations see no other way to remain sustainable and competitive is telling of the apparent failure of other initiatives.

 

Read more here.

By Wouter Geerts, Euromonitor from Skift

 

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