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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: Jeremy Smith on WTM

Last week, I spent a night in a hotel in Brussels that has taken a circular economy approach to redesigning the way its loyalty scheme works. Following on from my previous blog about how we in the industry can engage tourists by making them proud to be part of our efforts to promote sustainability, I want to look today at how rethinking the way such loyalty programmes operate could further help deliver on our aims.

Most people staying in a hotel – especially a city-based one – don’t just stay in the hotel. They wander out and explore. So why don’t hotels create partnerships with ethical shops, experiences, restaurants, low carbon transport alternatives and more in the neighbourhoods where they work. Such a ‘Hotel Eco Loyalty Programme’ (HELP) could provide me with discounts and incentives at these establishments and operators, helping me discover the city through them while supporting their efforts to assist the communities and environments where they work.

Read the full blog post here.

By JEREMY SMITH for WTM

 

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Credit: mekongtourism.org

Sustainable development has now also become a term that is synonymous with how tourism development should take place. In the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), where specific developmental characteristics play out, what kind of indicators for successful deployment of tourism that makes development in the region sustainable are we likely to see?

Sustainable tourism indicators have always been used to inform, assess and evaluate conditions and situations. Going forward, indicators will serve also as a benchmark for stakeholders to focus on critical areas that contribute to a destination’s sustainability (Lee & Hsieh, 2016), and at times a strategic tool, if it has not been so already.

Read the full article to learn more about the GMS, potential indicators as well as the importance and challenges of sustainable tourism here.

By Kevin Phun for MekongTourism.org

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Reap swift financial benefits by developing your country with mass tourism or opt for long term, low impact eco-tourism. Which would you choose?

Done right, sustainable tourism offers livelihoods for communities, meaningful travel experiences for tourists and protection for indigenous species and ways of life.

Read the full article and watch the video to find out what Botswana Tourism did here.

By World Travel & Tourism Council for Medium.

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Diana Korner speaking on World Environment Day (Credit: Travindy)

At the end of this month the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation (SSTF) is holding a conference on sustainable tourism in Small Island Developing Nations, taking place at the University of the Seychelles. We caught up with Diana Korner, one of SSTF’s founders, to find out what the plans are.

Travindy: Why do you consider the Seychelles to have ‘enormous potential to become an international best practice example for sustainable tourism’?

Diana: Seychelles has a vast number of natural assets, like its pristine beaches, tropical forests, mountains and waterfalls and a biodiversity, which can be easily accessed in and around its many (marine) protected areas. There are probably few places in the world where you can just take a 30 minute hike to breathtaking views and find endemic flora and fauna and then 30 minutes later jump into the water and dive with turtles, sharks and other charismatic species. Also, Seychelles already benefits from a reputation internationally for being an ecotourism destination, through its many ongoing, award winning conservation initiatives which are linked to tourism, such as Cousin Island, North Island, or Bird Island among others. As a small island state with a population of 90.000 inhabitants in theory effective changes can easily be implemented with the right mechanisms and people on board.

 

Read the full interview with Diana Korner here.

By Travindy for Travindy.

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Galaxy , Mary’s ‘poler’, navigates the rich ecosystem of the inland delta (Credit: Mary Holland)

Botswana’s government-led anti-poaching unit has become a model for conservation in Africa

“If you provoke them, they will provoke you. If you respect them, they will respect you. With hippos, there are rules,” says Galaxy. He’s referring to the giant mammals that are haphazardly popping their heads out the water, just like the Hungry Hungry Hippos game.

Galaxy is a “poler”. He’s been navigating the Okavango Delta waterways by mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) for over 20 years – something his parents did, too. During the annual flood season, mokoro is the only mode of transport for many locals.

He also partakes in the annual mokoro race, which takes place on 20 October each year and aims to integrate cultural tourism – sharing traditional transportation, art, entertainment and games – with the more popular wildlife tourism. “In Botswana we are proud of tourism,” he tells me as we glide through the reeds past the grunting of the hippos, the dust of the buffalo and the swishing of the distant elephants.

Read the full article on Botswana’s high-quality, low-impact tourism model here.

By Marry Holland for The Independent.

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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: Olivier Kugler

When you think of sustainable travel, what comes to mind? Gorilla trekking in Uganda, perhaps, or a sojourn in a remote yet well-appointed eco-lodge in the forests of Costa Rica, or even a luxurious stay at a Galápagos safari camp with an infinity pool and locally made teak furniture. If these high-cost trips are what pop into your head, your picture of what qualifies as sustainable tourism is not necessarily wrong — it’s just incomplete.

The term sustainable travel has been inextricably tied to opulent eco-travel. Fueled by a desire for guiltless extravagance and increasing attention paid to climate change, sustainability became a misused, industrywide buzzword associated with far-flung, expensive trips.

But sustainable tourism doesn’t have to be expensive.

 

Read the full article on how sustainable travel can be budget-friendly. 

 

By Lucas Peterson for The New York Times.

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Photographer: Wayne Lawrence for Bloomberg Businessweek

A mahout, wearing the traditional mohom outfit—denim, red neckerchief, and yellow straw hat—sits atop an elephant at Anantara.

Anantara Golden Triangle in northern Thailand is one of the only places where you can ethically interact with the country’s elephants.

 

I’m half-submerged in the Mekong River—the watery border that ­separates Laos from Thailand and Myanmar—sitting atop a big-eared, pink-spotted, 3-ton elephant named Poonlarp. Her skin looks soft from a distance, but it’s much coarser up close, covered in inch-long bristles. Her gait, which at first gives the appearance of flowing-through-honey movement, feels wobbly up this high. She’s alternately headstrong and playful. If you’ve ever walked a large, stubborn dog, you have an idea what it’s like to ride an elephant. This is the ­bucket-list item that brings people here to Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort.

 

Read more about ethically interacting with elephants at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort here. 

 

 

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