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Travel with Social Good in Nepal’s Community Homestays

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by Sudan Budathoki, Senior Office -Online Branding & Communication, Royal Mountain Travel, on behalf of CommunityHomestay.com

 

 

 

 

 

While luxurious hotels with all the mod-cons can be a lavish way to travel, with travelers interested in getting to know local people and exploring different cultures, some may find this a limiting way of experiencing a country. If you’ve seen the inside of one generic hotel, you’ve pretty much seen them all. But the Community Homestay Program, an initiative of Royal Mountain Travel, co-operating with multiple native communities of Nepal, offers an innovative and unique service for travelers wanting a comfortable place to sleep as well as local flavor, warm hospitality and the chance to see and experience things not otherwise accessible to tourists.

CommunityHomestay.com is a network of community homestays in Nepal, with the objective to empower women of vulnerable communities, preserving Nepalese ancient culture and traditions, supporting local business, and creating a memorable vacation for travelers visiting community Homestays.

Interaction with international cultures

Currently, the network envelops twelve community homestays from all over the Nepal. To become a family in the Community Homestay Network, a community is suggested to come forward with at least ten families (houses) to host guests. The homestay program recommends and prefers women to lead the project. Once the application is submitted, administration officers of CommunityHomestay.com pay their visit to the respective community. If a community meets the guidelines, CommunityHomestay.com begins promoting that community in the national and international travel industry. But, if a community does not meet the requirements, CommunityHomestay.com takes every possible measure to make a community competent to host guests. From a fund raising program (to maintain houses) to hospitality courses, from the English language learning classes and health and sanitation awareness, CommunityHomestay.com supports a community by every reasonable means. Once a community is comfortable to host guests, they are requested to reserve some certain amount of revenue to eradicate a social issue or to support a social situation. This is to say, not only a host family shall witness the benefits of community homestay, but eventually an entire community shall gain the positive impacts of responsible tourism.

One such example is Panauti Community Homestay. Like every other community homestay in the network, this homestay is a women-led project in a small town of Panauti, 32 kilometers outside the Kathmandu Valley. In 2009, 10 housewives and Royal Mountain Travel ventured for this very first project. In the initial days, housewives, who later became successful entrepreneurs, were shy and showed a lack of confidence to host foreign guests into their houses. They were concerned if a guest would not like the poor infrastructure of their houses or a guest would not like their home-cooked food or they would not be able to communicate with guests in a foreign language. Most of the housewives of Panauti Homestay are uneducated, and there was an urgent need to encourage them. Royal Mountain Travel provided training to these housewives regarding hospitality, service management, and gave English language learning classes. Royal Mountain also provided an idea and supported the houses to re-build toilets and bathrooms. Gradually, the owners/housewives began hosting guests in their houses. As every guest who visited their Homestay showed their tremendous support to housewives/owners of Panauti Community Homestay, the concept of community homestay came to an existence to empower women from every vulnerable community of Nepal.

 

Women of Panauti

Now the women of Panauti are full of confidence. The housewives are earning well, in some cases, more than their husbands. They can afford to send their children to better schools and their husbands are proud and happy for their wives’ success. With growing success, Panauti Community Homestay installed solar panel energy displaying their support for the natural energy. Once the kids of Panauti would chase a traveler for chocolates, now they communicate with guests in the English language and help lost travelers, if they spot one. A certain amount of revenue, generated from the homestay project, is set aside to support widowed women of Panauti; supporting financially to sponsor their children for education. The same revenue is also used to build a community hall, where younger generation are learning to play traditional Newari (ethnic) music, which was almost extinct.

Panauti Town

Such a success story has not limited its passion only to Panauti, rather it has encouraged other women from different communities to come forward to establish homestays. Other homestays in the Community Homestay Network are following the same principle. Women are in charge of other homestay projects, and so far it seems to be the fact that if a mother in a house becomes stronger, an entire family becomes stronger. If mothers of a community are stronger, the entire community sees only prosperity.

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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Some businesses may feel threatened by the sharing (collaborative) economy but it is time for our society to change its view on the importance of owning ‘things’.

The UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG12) focuses on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. With this in mind, we need to consider sharing a little more and owning a little less to help us achieve this goal.

According to the UN, the world population is projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. When I think of these numbers, I worry about the increasing amount of jobs, food, water and energy needed, as well as the increasing amount of waste that will be created. I worry about the increased number of people moving from farmlands to cities and the pressure that it will create on transport, city infrastructure and living quarters.

I was raised in a society that prides itself on owning things. Having a house in the city, a house in the countryside, a car or two, music and movies were not only norms – they were expectations. The more you owned, the higher your perceived status. Although it may still be like this in many places around the world, I am happy to see the younger generation behaving differently and taking advantage of newly available sharing services.

It took several generations to realise that owning a second house that you use only 10-20 percent of the time, or a vehicle that you only drive occasionally, makes little sense financially. Think of all the ‘things’ that may now be shared. Your house, car, boat, bicycle and sports equipment such as surfboard and skis that you seldom use.

Perhaps you have already disposed of your DVDs, books and CDs. After all, it’s so easy to watch movies on Netflix, read books on a Kindle, and listen to your favourite music on Spotify.

Think of all the ‘things’ you currently own that could be shared. For example, you can now provide access to your idling computer power (CPU) for scientific research (www.climateprediction.net). The designer evening dress you paid thousands for and will only wear once may be shared with others (www.covetella.com). Art management isn’t about subscribing to online collections, but rather having art collections that can be shared among members. Instead of investing in an expensive art collection you can now subscribe to one (www.artmgt.com).

We can all start to significantly reduce what we own while retaining access to more than we ever had before. It’s a phenomenon that will spread to almost every item with varying speeds. It may take one or two generations for our society to change its view towards the ownership of ‘things’ but I believe strongly that, in order to sustain a population of 11.2 billion people, we must reduce our footprint on the planet.

Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej showed remarkable vision when he introduced the ‘sufficiency economy’ philosophy to the country. This is a philosophy that many developed nations should learn from and implement if they wish to secure a sustainable future.

It’s never too late for spring cleaning and for you to donate what you may no longer use to others who may still find those items useful.

Till next time,
Mario Hardy
Chief Executive Officer
Pacific Asia Travel Association

– See more at: https://www.pata.org/share-world-ensure-sustainable-future/#sthash.Lm879tpU.dpuf

 

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A Guide to Sustainable Travel for Seniors

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by Jackie Edwards, editor, researcher and writer 

Some seniors think that sustainable travel is not a suitable option for them, because it requires them to make extra efforts in most travel situations. However, it’s important to understand that it does not take much to be environmentally conscious during travel. Here are some tips that can help senior travelers minimize their impact on the environment.

Transportation

Whether you are flying, taking a taxi or bus, or driving a car, you are part of an activity that produces harmful carbon emissions. If you need to fly, it is recommended that you choose one of over 30 airlines that belong to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). These airlines have carbon offset programs that require them to reduce carbon emissions from their airplanes. When you are traveling on land, you will do less harm to the environment if you take the bus or train. If you prefer to rent a car, opt for an electric or hybrid car if available.

Take public transportation whenever possible

Accommodation

If the hotel where you are staying is not environmentally-friendly, you will have a greater negative impact on the environment, whether directly or indirectly. As such, it is important that you do some research first before you book your accommodation. First of all, look for a hotel that is certified by EarthCheck, Travelife, or other reputable green-certifiers. Also, find out if it has a recycling program or sustainability initiatives such as energy-efficient lighting, low-flow toilets, rain water harvesting, solar power, or wind turbines.

Shopping

One of the most environmentally detrimental aspects of shopping is the use of plastic bags. According to a report released by the Environmental Protection Agency, people around the world use about one trillion plastic bags every year, and the percentage of plastic that is recycled is less than five percent. You can do your part to reduce plastic consumption by bringing your own reusable bag when you are shopping. In addition, try not to buy imported products, because they have left large carbon footprints during transportation. Get locally-made products instead.

Water and Energy Consumption

If you are traveling to one of the popular sunny travel destinations for seniors, you will most likely have to use more water and air-conditioning to keep cool. It is advisable that you take showers instead of baths, because you can save up to 30 gallons of water per shower. Also, try to keep your showers short. If you can, avoid using the hotel’s laundry service because your clothes will usually be washed separately from other guests’ clothes, which increases water consumption. To save energy while traveling, you can make sure that the a/c, lights, and TV are all switched off before you leave your hotel room.

Unlike what some people may think, you do not have to live in a tent or cook with a solar-powered stove to be part of the sustainable travel movement. A little effort here and there can go a long way to improving the environment.

Read more of Jackie’s work here.

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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Beginning at home – the next generation of sustainable travelers

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by Jackie Edwards, editor, researcher and writer 

Sustainable Tourism: Ways Your Trip Can Have a Positive Impact

When we go on holiday to a new place, it is increasingly important to us to learn as much as we can about the local atmosphere and culture. Often, the best part of the trip is when we are able to interact with the people and place in an authentic way.

As the world around us is affected by climate change and transitioning environments, our efforts to travel in a sustainable way become more crucial to the conservation of the beautiful wildlife and sights we encounter. By incorporating sustainability on our holidays, we can do our part in making a positive, ethical impact on local environments and communities.

Impacts of Tourism on the Environment

Unfortunately, as traveling is made easier and more countries develop tourism industries, the environment usually takes a toll. Increasing the need for resources, the consumption percentages of local products and produce, and the use of public transportation often leads to pollution and negative impacts on the ecosystem. Research in sustainable tourism has shown that many places are not equipped to efficiently conserve the environment while maintaining the influx of travelers. For example, the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, where water is scarce, uses 12 million litres of water per year. In the Caribbean, where tourists love to snorkel and scuba-dive, around two-thirds of coral reefs are in danger. These facts should be frightening to us; our trips, while seemingly fun for the whole family, may be damaging the world that contains our fondest holiday memories.

Photo: Dawid Zawila

Steps You Can Take to Further Sustainability

The facts of the changing environment should be kept in mind when planning your next holiday, and thankfully there are a number of solutions for a sustainable trip.

The best way to further your sustainable efforts is to begin at home. Teaching conservation to your family while at home and on holiday will spawn the next generation of sustainable travelers. By playing simple environmental games, like I-Spy to learn about new species on your trip, or trash pick-up on the beach, you can inspire your children to maintain a healthy environment. Also, it’s great fun for the whole family to keep a list or tally of all the new animals you may encounter on holiday. Your children will be the first ones to the beach in the morning, looking for tiny crabs and seagulls to add to the list. 

In addition to sharing sustainable knowledge with the family, it is important to make sure that your holiday is planned with the environment in mind, in terms of the residence you book, the activities you organize, and the items you pack. Avoiding all-inclusive resorts and restaurants that don’t use sustainable animal products are small ways you can positively impact the environment. Also, spend an afternoon volunteering in a beach clean-up or at the community park instead of going on a boat tour or shopping. This will teach your family the importance of sustainability in every new environment you encounter together.

Sustainable tourism is increasingly important in our world of shifting climates. Knowing the small steps you and your family can take while on holiday will leave a great impact in the long run, helping both the local community and conservation efforts worldwide.

Read more about teaching children the importance of fish and wildlife conservation.

Read A Complete Guide to Travel for Seniors

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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When you talk about sustainable tourism, focus on it makes your guests’ experiences better

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by Jeremy Smith, Editor & Co-Founder, Travindy

 

The easiest way to understand why most people struggle to communicate sustainable tourism well, and to understand how to get it right, is to stop thinking about sustainable tourism.

Instead, think about food. When you buy any food that comes in packaging, that packaging is covered with information. On the front, there’s the name of the product, maybe a photo or image of it looking at its finest, and a few short words or a phrase that describe how mouthwateringly, lipsmackingly delicious it is. All this information is communicating to the customer what their experience will be like. Because that is what motivates their purchase.

Meanwhile, somewhere else on the package, probably on the back, in a tiny font, is a long list of ingredients, some information on how to dispose of the packaging, guidelines about which sort of food intolerances it is a risk for, and so on. How many times do you ever look at that information before you buy a product – unless you specifically need to know if, say, it might contain peanuts? This is how the product was made. It’s complex, necessary, and in a few specific cases motivates a purchase. But not often.

When talking about tourism in general, people focus on the first approach – how relaxing, exciting, thrilling, inspiring your holiday will be. But when many people try to communicate sustainable tourism the focus shifts to an overemphasis on what is found on the back of the food packet – the stuff about how it is made.

It’s not surprising. People who put in all this extra effort are incredibly committed, passionate people. They care hugely about supporting their local communities, regenerating endangered habitats, or reducing their impact on climate change. And they want to share this passion with their guests.

Last year my colleague Professor Xavier Font analysed the sustainability messages used by businesses winning the World Responsible Tourism Awards held at WTM and WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards over the previous years. In other words, the leaders in the field. He found that even then: “most of these messages focus on passive facts where the beneficiary of the sustainability action is not clear.”

To use an example that combines food and hospitality, companies report reductions in food miles, but don’t contextualise this message so as to explain to their guests how their experience is improved as a result. Yes, reducing food miles means less carbon emissions while supporting a region’s farmers. Yet the key message to consumers should be that this offers unique opportunities for them to enjoy varieties and tastes they won’t get elsewhere, while ensuring that the food is as fresh and ripe as can be. In other words, our efforts to be more sustainable mean a better holiday for you.

In the same way, if your lodge has solar panels – key messages might be how this enables it to be sited in such a remote and beautiful place, or how it means there are no ugly power cables spoiling the view, or how guests can sleep undisturbed by the hum of a generator. If your staff are all from nearby villages, this means they know the area best, have the most fascinating stories of its history, and make the best guides to it today.

If you clear the litter off of coral, it is the clean reef you show a picture of, not the pile of rubbish. If the air is pure where you operate, you don’t detail the chemical composition of the atmosphere, you paint a picture so people imagine closing their eyes and breathing deep. If you have protected thousands of acres of forests the story you share is not of the bureaucratic wrangling and years of campaigning, but of how far and free people can walk direct from your front door.

For every action you take, every procedure you implement, every device or tool you’ve added to make your operation run more sustainably, ask yourself – how does this improve my guests’ experience. And then tell them that. To use the food packaging analogy – put this on the front of the pack.

Of course it may well be that you can’t think of suitable stories to tell about some of the things you do. So, just as with all the less exciting sounding ingredients, you put these on the back. In an environmental policy document. Under a ‘sustainability practices’ tab on the website. You still mention them – because just as some people look for specific ingredients in food, so some people will check your sustainable tourism policy. And without it being there for those that look, how would they know?

There is much else to get right, once you have ensured your communications focus on the benefit for your guests. You need to avoid greenwash. Got the tone right so you aren’t preachy or angry. But everything starts here.

 

Looking for more help?

Over the years we’ve worked with hundreds of people and companies who are putting loads of effort into being more sustainable, and who are frustrated because they aren’t able to get their guests as excited about their efforts as they are. We’ve put together much of what we have learned, and the stories of many of the companies we have helped, into a free Essential Guide to Marketing and Communicating Sustainable Tourism. This 83-page ebook is filled with case studies of companies getting it right, and ideas and advice for people looking to do the same.

It can be downloaded from Travindy here. And if you want to talk to us about how we can help you get your sustainability stories heard, email anula@travindy.com, tweet @travindy or find us at facebook.com/travindy

 

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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by Marta Mills (@oneplanetblog), Stakeholder Engagement and Communications Director, Transcaucasian Trail Association


According to UNWTO, tourism’s role in the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is to promote inclusiveness: inclusive sustainable economic growth, social inclusiveness, diversity, mutual understanding. The word “inclusive” appears in five Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet one thing that was clearly missing from the ITB’s “Sustainable Tourism Program 2017” was inclusiveness.

ITB Berlin (held 8-11 March) is “the world’s leading travel trade show” with over 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries, and over 160,000 participants. The three-day-long Sustainable Tourism Program of seminars, workshops, panel discussions and award ceremonies included over 200 speakers on 12 different stages in seven halls. However, the programme lacked speakers from the southern hemisphere; it showed race, nationality and gender imbalance amongst panellists; and lacked the Responsible Tourism (RT) practitioners during debates on big stages as if RT was not part of the “proper” tourism industry. I found it quite puzzling and questionable, particularly now in the Year of Sustainable Tourism.

There were some very inspiring and insightful sessions I am going to refer to later on, but I will start with the challenges that should be addressed in planning next ITB.

Nationality, race and gender imbalance while discussing sustainability in tourism

Nationality, race and gender imbalance while discussing sustainability in tourism

 

My ITB hats

I attended ITB wearing two hats – a sustainable tourism practitioner and a MSc student of Responsible Tourism Management. With a background in sustainability communications, I work on developing sustainable tourism in the Caucasus region through the Transcaucasian Trail project. I study how to implement responsible business practices for the benefit of communities and the environment in destinations. I was therefore keen to hear the latest news, trends and practical solutions in sustainable destinations management and in maximising the positive impacts of tourism globally. And anything related to trails, understandably.

Morning queue outside the venue: 160,000 people from over 180 countries attend ITB Berlin each year

Morning queue outside the venue: 160,000 people from over 180 countries attend ITB Berlin each year

The programme and the venue – first obstacles

The first ITB challenge, even before going to Berlin, was to go through the 27-page-long (!) CSR programme, pick the sessions of most interest, and work out whether it is actually possible to get from one to the other (often held in different halls on different floors) on time. The venue is huge – there is a shuttle bus cruising between 28 exhibition halls!

It is pretty time-consuming to work out what sessions happen simultaneously, and the app doesn’t allow to put “my favourites” in order either. I ended up making a spreadsheet of my timetable to work it out and wondering why this can be simplified. Perhaps the ITB could make it easier next year and run a scheduled timetable of all sessions so we could see at a glance who, when and where is speaking?

But these are technical issues that can be easily resolved. I believe that the lack of inclusiveness I referred to above is much more serious. Here are the challenges mentioned in the introduction:

 

  • Nationality/race imbalance:

Vicky Smith of Earth Changers, a RT practitioner and the ITB veteran, made a point that “although held in Germany, ITB is the international show, and therefore has more of an opportunity to showcase international players, start-ups and initiatives on its stages in order to represent the worldwide perspective.” And the worldwide perspective doesn’t only come from the European, white middle-aged men in suits. Particularly during debates on sustainable tourism.

I believe that at such an international show there should be a better representation of speakers from developing countries. The practitioners on the ground in destinations are not given the chance to participate effectively. The ones with hands on experience and often have a much better practical understanding of various sustainability issues than CEOs of companies based in Germany.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for inclusive participatory processes from designing change to implementation of good practices. Without “southern” speakers taking part in global discussions we are not addressing the sustainability of tourism. One of those small handful of “southern” speakers, the Founder of the Gambian Institute of Travel and Tourism Adama Bah, told me that “the purpose of the global discussion is to raise awareness so that the industry will take responsibility of making tourism sustainable. Without hearing from “southern voices” where most negative impacts of tourism do happen, educative global discussions defeat their purposes to make tourism sustainable.”

 

  • Gender imbalance

And speaking of other imbalances… One of the most-attended debates on “How Can Sustainable Travel Offers Be Marketed Successfully?” was led by seven white men on stage. Six Germans and one English. I tweeted ITB asking whether it was really that hard to find at least one woman who knows how to communicate sustainability (didn’t get a reply). Some other tweets about “the glass ceiling in tourism” followed. A quick glance at the small presentation offer in hall 4.1 (dedicated to Responsible Tourism) would have provided a few names of women professionals to choose from. Again, something to consider for next year.

I understand that by supporting various sustainability awards, the ITB demonstrates its commitment to sustainable development and gender equality. And there were women on other panels (although just over 30% – 38 women compared to 115 men speaking on the big stages). But it was quite ironic that a major session on sustainability has forgotten about respecting SDG 5 – Gender Equality.

Interestingly, at the very end of the session, the moderator apologised that “there are all gentlemen up here” on the panel. Considering how much applause that comment got, I clearly wasn’t the only one feeling disappointed.

 

  • (not) knowing your audience

Sometime I also felt that some speakers were not aware who the audience was. While I understand that the level of knowledge of sustainable tourism in the audience varied, I also believe that it is safe to assume that most of us in hall 4.1 (Responsible Tourism hall) knew a fair bit. There was still a lot of vague language from the business representatives, particularly the more senior executives of big companies, for example “we are working to build more capacity and improve sustainability of our operations”. This sounds great, however doesn’t provide any meaningful information nor any clear examples of what exactly the operator did to “build capacity” and what exactly “improving sustainability” meant.

Also, we already are “the converted.” We know that – to quote a few panellists – “everyone has to take part,” “it is our shared responsibility,” “we need to accelerate in sustainable product offer” or “make the message about sustainability more visible.” I didn’t come all the way to Berlin to listen to such old and vague slogans. I came to listen and learn how others actually do it, what works and what doesn’t, how I can get involved in a practical way. And, as many sessions have proven again, the best advice will always come from those who work on the ground, who have tried various approaches, who have made mistakes and are happy to share them, so we can all learn together.

Practical overview and lessons learn from the Jordan Trail Association – an insightful, fun and informative session led by practitioners on the ground

Practical overview and lessons learn from the Jordan Trail Association – an insightful, fun and informative session led by practitioners on the ground

 

  • Not enough awareness

However, these messages are important and should be repeated to the ones who are not converted and who need a constant reminder about the importance and role of sustainability in tourism – and that’s why I would also argue for including more RT speakers in the wider programme of ITB Convention. The whole industry needs to transform to minimise its negative impacts. The ITB mentions that “additional panels dedicated to ecological and social responsibility can also increasingly be found e.g. at the ITB Destination Days, but it should do much more to mainstream sustainable tourism.

For example, “ITB Young Professionals day” discussed which graduates will the industry need in the future. That could have been an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and repeat the messages about sustainable tourism. Or the big debate on “World Tourism Trends.” or “Success Factors for Nation and Place Branding” – giving RT practitioners space on the panels would have demonstrated that sustainable tourism is one of the big trends and brings competitive advantage when it comes to successful branding. And, overall, contribute to raising awareness amongst the wider industry. 

 

But…

I found the events on smaller stages much more informative, useful, practical, and engaging. Most presenters used their 30 min-slot very well – a short summary of the project/issue, how the issues are being dealt with, lessons learnt, time for questions. I immensely enjoyed the session on the Jordan Trail on the big stage of hall 4.1 on Friday 11th – three women panellists, all of them working on the ground in Jordan, representing the business and government stakeholders. Giving that practical overview with challenges and opportunities I was craving for. Similarly, an engaging session on community-based tourism in Myanmar, with a step by step guidance on how to develop tourism in emerging destinations. Both of them proved my point – ITB needs an international representation of hands-on practitioners to share the potential and best practice examples of sustainable tourism.

Peter Richards, Expert on Community Tourism Development and Market Access during a practical and engaging session on tourism development in Kayah State, Myanmar

Peter Richards, Expert on Community Tourism Development and Market Access during a practical and engaging session on tourism development in Kayah State, Myanmar

 

ITB 2018

Matthias Beyer, the moderator of the aforementioned all-men-in-suits panel, noted that his panel in terms of gender balance doesn’t reflect the reality of the industry, emphasizing that for the future, it is imperative to find a better gender composition for such panels. Such an approach is much needed and gives me hope that at future ITBs the number of women and intentional speakers will match the number of white men in suits.

 

Note: ITB Messe-Berlin was unavailable for comment.

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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by Nicolas Dubrocard, Former Wild Asia Project Director, auditor for Travelife and Green Globe, and Director of Audit Diagnostic Solutions Tourism

Nicolas Dubrocard

 

I started my path on sustainable tourism exactly ten years ago in Morocco where I was supporting small accommodations and hotels to obtain the Green Key international eco label and to save water through Travel Foundation’s programme called Every Drop Counts.

From the beginning of this journey I discovered that there was an area where it is easy to implement changes with huge environmental positive impacts: the bathroom.

The reasons were obvious: more efficient showerheads and taps save substantial amounts of water and energy (used to heat the water or pump it around the building) as well as limits the volume of grey water to be treated. A showerhead is easy to change, low in cost and has a payback of a few months if the original one is very inefficient. I visited hotels with shower water flows between 20 and 22 litres per minute, which is twice the amount recommended by international eco labels!

One can only imagine the amount of water and energy that could be saved annually!?

A quick calculation: let’s consider that a new showerhead can reduce the flow by ten litres per minute and the guest uses it only once a day for ten minutes (already a low figure) — the savings would be around thirty six cubic meters per year per room permanently occupied!

Most of the decision makers consider that this is not an interesting area for cost savings because water is cheap; they do not consider the real cost of water, including pumping, treatment, heating (keeping in mind that a hotel needs to heat a third of its water needs).

The financial savings is so considerable that it becomes ridiculous. It’s even inconceivable to still find that these older devices are still place, especially in destinations where the water resources are at risk; massive water wastage will lead to more tension between local communities and hotels.

So the first step for hotel managers, hotel engineering directors and even at home is to monitor and control the water flow in the shower. Don’t wait, do it now!

This part of the business is so easy, it should be mandatory and it’s a shame if a hotel’s owner or managing company is not following the sustainability experts advice during the hotel’s building phase; they would save so much time, money and natural resources!

After the technical aspects, I also had a look at the communication in the bathroom: the famous towel reuse programme. Again, the positive impacts are immense: water, energy, labour and chemicals are embedded in the towel cleaning.

Photo: Nicolas Dubrocard

Photo: Nicolas Dubrocard

What has happened over the past ten years? The initial situation was simple: no one cared about reusing towels. At some point, some hotels started to communicate about it, asking the guests to participate to the towel reuse programme. Then, every hotel started to create its own communication. Most hotels, at the time, believed they were doing something cool and positive but they have mostly been using guilt as a leverage: “Save the planet”, “Help save the environment”, “Do you know how much chemicals we use to clean your towels”… highlighting the negative aspects of having new towel every day. This kind of wording was analysed and there are now much better ways to engage the clients to participate, such as using social norms[2]. In a few years the messages to reuse the towel have flourished in bathrooms like Caulerpa Taxifolia in Mediterranean Sea. Looking at this trend, it is amazing to realize that the industry at large did make a move – but is it really a change?

I’m afraid it’s not.

Let’s look at one more aspect: the staff training. This is the Achilles’ heel of most hotels. It is very complicated to change the way housekeepers are working – what they have learned and even their sense of ethics (which dictates to change all towels in the bathroom). One can also not forget the limited amount of time to clean each room which really means that a housekeeper should not lose any time making a decision regarding the towels. As a consequence, it happens that towels meant to be reused are replaced, making the client very angry. Imagine that you already took time to review all the documentation (sometimes written so small that you need magnifying glass to read it!), to understand finally where to hang your towel and now very proud of yourself, you realize that these very towels have been replaced, destroying all your efforts to save the planet, to reduce the use of a significant amount of chemicals, while on vacation…you will feel bad, betrayed… It is enough to write a negative online comment!

And what should guests think about the resort hotels asking them to reuse the bathroom towel while offering a free flow of 2m X 1m beach towels?

I had the chance during my career to adapt and implement over a period of two years a programme called “Kuoni Water Champion” in Thailand, aiming to help 26 hotels to reduce their water consumption[3]. During this action we emphasized as much as possible towel reuse and we tried to introduce a new approach following the Make A Green Choice programme initiated by Starwood in Europe, Africa, Middle East division in 2015.

This programme has three advantages; firstly, by giving guests the choice to decline housekeeping services, housekeepers do not have to make the decision regarding towels in a room; secondly, it is rewarding guests who participate in the action (via a voucher, loyalty points or donation) therefore diminishing the feeling that when participating to a towel reuse programme the biggest winner is the hotel; and thirdly, it also means that there is real monitoring and follow up where guests are encouraged to participate in and are made aware of the programme upon their arrival. There are certainly some downsides to this system; it may in a mid or long term reduce the need for housekeepers and contribute to unemployment; however, at least there is an alternative to the towel reuse communication.

For each problem in the hotel industry, there is a solution. Some chains or individual hotels are really committing and doing their best. However, there is still a majority of industry players refusing to embrace the sustainability topics, keeping closed eyes on potential sources of revenue or cost efficiencies.

Photo: Nicolas Dubrocard

Photo: Nicolas Dubrocard

When will the hoteliers and hotel owners understand that sustainability is not a gadget but the best way to manage a hotel and increase their benefits? When will the architects stop building inefficient buildings?

Should we wait another ten years to realize that we could actually shape right now – with a little investment, repeated trainings and a lot of good will – a more sustainable industry where the hotels will not be seen as energy and water squanderer and where tensions with local communities are avoided?

 

*****

 

[1] For the person interested in monitoring their water flow in the shower, here is a short video in English and Thai

[2] A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels, by Noah J. Goldstein, Robert B. Cialdini , Vladas Griskevicius

[3] Free manual to download

 

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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A micro-approach to sustainable tourism: how travelers can take small actions that result in large, positive impacts

Categories: Blog Posts, Case Study, Community, People and Places
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By La Carmina, travel blogger and TV host @ lacarmina.com

la-carmina-lacarmina-asia-fashion-blogger-tv-host

 

Intro

As a millennial travel blogger, I’ve noticed a rising interest among travelers my age for “authentic, immersive” experiences. I personally gravitate towards sharing stories in this vein, such as conservation safaris in South Africa, or village food tours in Vietnam. Skift’s recent report echoes this movement: “Arguably the most significant, systemic trend in worldwide tourism today is the demand for ‘experiential travel’.”

Their report adds that 71% of US travelers now prefer to travel with family and friends, and book local stays. In particular, young travelers are uninterested in joining a big bus tour, briefly hitting the landmarks and sleeping at a chain hotel. Instead, they’re keen on local, off-the-beaten-path experiences. According to Trekk Soft, travelers are increasingly expressing a “real interest in interacting in a genuine way with other people and cultures” – giving examples such as camel treks to Merzouga, and staying in yurts with Mongolian nomads.

These experience-seeking travelers might not use the word (or hashtag) “sustainable” in describing their preferred travel style, but their approach often shares the same priorities. “Sustainable tourism,” after all, focuses on making a positive, ethical impact on the local environment, community and economy.

Leisure travelers might not instinctively be drawn to “sustainable tourism”, as the first images that come to mind tend to be voluntourism in poor areas, eco-work in jungles and other challenging long-term commitments. Skift suggests they may feel daunted by the physical level required, difficult living conditions, or overall social impact of their contribution.

However, travelers can make a significant impact even in a single day of action. There are many “micro-approaches” to incorporating sustainability into a trip – such a staying at a family-run hotel, devoting a day to volunteering in the city, or taking a cooking class run by villagers in their homes.

Since these small and less intensive choices are accessible to travelers, it’s likely that more will be willing to take part – resulting in compounding positive returns for the community. These “micro-sustainable” activities are also exactly in line with the meaningful, local experiences that travelers are increasingly seeking.

Tourists will always be in need of accommodations, food, transportation, and possibly a guided tour – all of which are opportunities to support locals, and leave a small footprint. In recent years, I’ve been putting the spotlight on small, sustainable choices in these areas, which can go a long way. Here are three examples from my recent journeys, and the lessons I’ve learned.

 

Case study 1: Volunteering with Myanmar punks

Volunteering abroad can take on many forms. Like many leisure travelers, I am not able to commit to a long stint of service, such as spending several weeks or months at a rural school. I also have some health concerns that limit me from certain types of activities, and I can understand why travelers may feel uncomfortable in some circumstances, such as working at a hospital.

Regardless, there is an abundance of direct, local-led ways to make a difference in any destination. These activities can fit seamlessly with one’s personal interests and abilities, and fulfill the “authentic” experiences that travelers desire.

For example, I’ve identified with subcultures ever since I was a teenager, especially Goth and punk lifestyles. When I had the opportunity to visit Myanmar, I was surprised to learn that there is a vivid, “old-school” punk scene in Yangon. These bands perform raucous sets at dive bars, wearing spiky Mohawks, studded jewelry and ripped tops – followed by hardcore partying til morning!

However, Yangon’s rockers are also committed to helping their community from the ground up. Kyaw Kyaw, leader of the punk group Rebel Riot, started two local charities: Books Not Bombs (raising funds and supplies for schoolchildren in need), and Food Not Bombs (a weekly program where the punks and volunteers feed the homeless).

Photo: La Carmina

Photo: La Carmina

As someone with a passion for underground culture, I was excited to meet Myanmar’s punks and help out with their non-profits. I messaged Kyaw Kyaw and others directly on Facebook, and we struck up a conversation. My friends and I ended up bringing a suitcase full of school supplies for the local children. We watched him perform at Human Rights Day, taking photos so that I could feature the concert on my travel blog. Later, we interviewed him while hanging out with his punk friends, which led to a decadent night out at Chinatown bars.

My friends and I were happy we were able to meet new friends who shared our love of alternative culture and fashion. We had a unique, fun experience with locals in Yangon, while also supporting a charity in person. With the Internet and social media, it’s easier than ever to reach out directly to individuals like we did, and make a difference even during a short trip.

 

Case study 2: Staying with a Serbian family

One of the simplest ways that travelers can support sustainable tourism is by choosing local, ethical accommodations. In the past, tourists booked chain hotels because they could count on the consistent quality. However, with the rise of crowd-sourced online reviews today, travelers minimize the risk of staying in subpar places. With a little web research, they can confidently put their dollars towards homestays, B&Bs, and independently run boutique hotels with excellent reputations.

When my travel TV team and I were planning our stay in Belgrade, I looked at international brands such as Best Western, Radisson and Hyatt. I knew these hotels would provide a satisfactory stay – but I probably wouldn’t remember the rooms or staff a few months later. In other words, there would be no “experience” or sustainable/local facets, which are important to my travel stories.

Instead, I looked at TripAdvisor and other boutique hotel reviews online. Selection Apartments stood out because it had 5-star reviews across the board, and won TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence every year since 2012.

We contacted them and received a personal reply and welcome from the family that runs these apartments, including the offer to pick us up from the train station for free. When we arrived, the father and wife team served us Serbian coffee and fresh-baked pastries, and then took us on a little walking tour of the neighbourhood to get us situated. They upkeep the rooms themselves, and were always available for friendly chats and to give advice. To this day, we still keep in touch on Facebook.

Photo: La Carmina

Photo: La Carmina

If we had booked a chain hotel, we would never have had a personalized, local experience like we did at Selection Apartments. My team and I feel great that we supported a kind Belgrade family, and consistently recommend them to travelers to help get the word out. This sustainable choice rewarded us with new friends and memories, while also helping out a local business.

 

Case study 3: Supporting Moroccan women on a tour

Likewise, in Morocco, my team and I wanted to dive deeper into the local culture, and film meaningful stories about individuals breaking boundaries. We were curious about the lives of Moroccan women, so we created a custom itinerary through Plan-It Fez, a tour company run by two expat women. We had a Moroccan lady as our guide and translator, and she helped us experience immersive activities that support local female-run businesses.

Photo: La Carmina

Photo: La Carmina

We learned how to make bread and couscous at a bakery collective, run by women in a village outside Fez. The next day, we took part in a family-run henna workshop, where three generations of Moroccan women showed us beauty treatments and drew designs on our hands. Finally, we stayed overnight in a Berber village home, cooking dinner with the ladies of the house.

Photo: La Carmina

Photo: La Carmina

Although my filmmakers and I only spent about a week in Morocco, our Plan-It Fez tour gave us powerful insight into the lives of independent, local women. We saw our dollars made a direct impact on the lives of these women, as we could observe how they were building lives for themselves through their work, which they opened up to tourists.

In any given destination, there are dozens of big-name tour groups, buses and cruises to choose from. However, with a little online research, sustainable-minded travelers can find a niche tour that focuses on a cause or aspect that they feel passionate about. These options can range from a small eco cruise for people who love diving, to music workshops run by emerging artists. I personally love shining a light on women and fringe groups, which made this tour a perfect fit for my interests, while creating sustainable benefits.

 

Conclusion

Today’s travelers are increasingly interested in “experiential, meaningful, local” journeys – and these values are in line with sustainability. However, large-scale voluntourism and eco-focused trips might not match the comfort levels of most leisure travelers. Instead, tourists can be encouraged to take small, mindful actions – such as booking homestays and ethical tours, or spending a day volunteering for a cause they believe in.

My case studies suggest that these “micro-sustainable” choices can fit one’s personal interests and be enjoyable, while also making a significant, positive impact on communities. Travelers are also more likely to take part in such “small” actions, as these require less time and physical investment. No matter how small, every choice that is mindful about a destination’s environment and residents will make a difference.

 

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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by Maeve Nightingale, Mangroves for the Future Programme Manager, IUCN

 

Cox's maeve

Home to a golden sand beach, towering cliffs, amazing surf, rare conch shells and colorful pagodas, Cox’s Bazar should long ago have been on the map as a popular tourist destination. Yet, little is known about this fascinating fishing port located in the South Asian nation of Bangladesh.

Cox’s Bazar is best known for having the longest beach in the world – a 120 km of continuous sandy shore running the length of the coastline. The town is named after Lieutenant Cox, an officer of the British East India Company who sought shelter in the then British territory after the conquest of Arakan by the Burmese. A majority of the population, many of which are originally from Myanmar, are descendants of the Arakan refugees creating a continuum of ethnic diversity and cultural harmony that shapes Cox’s Bazar today. Products of the Rakhine people are a favorite amongst tourists. Their unique culture attracts visitors from home, and abroad.

Cox's fishermen-on-inani-beach-coxs-bazar

“Fishermen on Inani Beach, Cox’s Bazar”©IUCN Asia/Ann Moey

From Cox’s Bazar all the way down to Teknaf: a place of culture, wildlife and natural landscapes

Located north-west of Cox’s Bazar town, the Island of Sonadia has been identified by the Government of Bangladesh as an ‘Ecologically Critical Area’ or ECA to protect it from over exploitation (Environmental Protection Zone as a result of the 1995 Environmental Conservation Act). It is a barrier island, meaning it is protecting the mainland from erosion by lying parallel to it. Sonadia Island provides diverse habitat that supports three different vegetation types—sand dunes, salt marshes and mangroves. Along with its associated marine area, it provides habitat for several threatened species including marine turtles, shore birds and cetaceans. The Island is one of the last remaining habitats of the Spoon Billed Sand Piper, a very rare shore bird.

Nearby, St Martin’s Island – the only coral-bearing Island in Bangladesh – is a site of interest for establishing one of the first national Marine Protected Areas (MPA) through the support of IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and its regional coastal ecosystem programme, Mangroves for the Future (MFF), opening up opportunities for conserving wildlife and promoting sustainable tourism activities. MPAs involve the protective management of natural areas so as to keep them in their natural state. MPAs can be conserved for a number of reasons including economic resources, biodiversity conservation, and species protection. They are created by delineating zones with permitted and non-permitted uses within that zone.

Other important local attractions include the Forests of Shilkali and Chunuti, which are managed and protected by local communities. Chunuti Wildlife Sanctuary is the country’s third oldest sanctuary and home to a herd of majestic Asian elephants, the rare Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Kalij Pheasant and Crab-eating Maongoose, all of which can be seen whenhiking in the forest. The Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary is another place of diverse wildlife, featuring a hill forest in the middle part of the Teknaf Peninsula.

Driving Cox’s Bazar tourism industry towards inclusiveness

Sustainable approach to tourism means that neither the natural environment nor the socio-cultural fabric of the host communities should be impaired by the arrival of tourists (UNESCO). In fact the goal is for local communities to benefit from tourism, both economically and socially, without sacrificing their natural environment in the process.

Tourism can be a driver for social growth and economic development if it carefully considers local assets to build attractive and marketable tourism products while maximizing benefits sharing and reducing negative environmental impacts.

”Defining a Sustainable Tourism Strategy for Cox’s Bazar will require developing a common vision at the local, national and regional level, to pave the way for local to national economic development opportunities and work across industries including fisheries and aquaculture, agriculture, handicrafts, tourism facilities and service providers,” says Maeve Nightingale. The first step of this strategy will be a participatory consultative initiative where national, local government, tourism industries and related businesses as well as local communities work together to design the vision and way forward for a sustainable future for Cox’s Bazar, recognizing that conservation and tourism and community development opportunities go hand in hand as marine and coastal environments provide key natural assets, essential to the tourism industry and coastal communities. Therefore, coastal tourism development should be an inclusive process that values local communities and creates benefits-sharing systems.

Cox's “Women from Nuniarchi Conservation Village selling their hand-made products” © IUCN Asia/Petch Manopawitr

“Women from Nuniarchi Conservation Village selling their hand-made products” © IUCN Asia/Petch Manopawitr

To guide the tourism sector towards sustainability, IUCN has developed guidelines for the integration of biodiversity in hotels and resorts development; to integrate business skills into ecotourism operations; and to ensure sustainable tourism in Parks and Protected Areas. In parallel, MFF works to leverage opportunities for communities to develop small-scale, sustainable enterprises, which support local livelihood development. Some of these initiatives include facilitating the supply of local sustainable seafood to hotels and restaurants, souvenir product development for hotels, development of ecotourism services. In Thailand, MFF/IUCN influence coastal industries through interaction with supply chains and customer base e.g. several Marriott Hotels & Resorts have now local seafood strategies in place for their restaurants. A Thailand seafood guide will also be developed for awareness.

Cox's one-of-joars-eco-cottages-mff-funded-project

“Lunch with MFF grantee Joar at one of the eco-cottages in Shyamnagar”© IUCN Asia/Amin Raquibul

Emphasizing the importance of these types of collaborative approaches, MFF works closely with communities in Bangladesh to achieve a sustainable, community-based ecotourism industry. In Shyamnagar, a sub-district located close to the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world, MFF works together with Joar an NGO that supports natural resources dependent communities by providing alternative sources of income from the operation of eco-cottages and related ecotourism activities.

Cox's "Joar's Eco-Cottages (MFF Funded Project)”©IUCN Asia/Amin Raquibul

“Joar’s Eco-Cottages (MFF Funded Project)”©IUCN Asia/Amin Raquibul

Raising awareness for public-private partnerships

In the long run the future of tourism as a driver of sustainable and inclusive development in Cox’s Bazar will necessitate a participatory approach, working together and active support from both private, public sector and the community.

Strategic guidelines like a participatory tourism development planning is necessary for Cox’s Bazar to ensure a holistic approach for sustainable tourism development that includes considerations for managing freshwater, wastewater, drainage, waste management, infrastructure and other essential services necessary for tourism. At the same time preserving, the much treasured cultural and natural heritages as the foundation not only for tourism but also for societal well being is essential. Recognized for its potential to become a top tourist destination, Cox’s Bazar has been selected to be the venue of this year’s PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum – 24th and 25th November 2016. Mohammad Shahad Mahabub Chowdhury, National Coordinator for MFF Bangladesh will be moderating the session “Rethinking Sustainable Coastal Tourism.” The session will focus on how the private sector is a critical stakeholder for the stewardship of coastal resources.

Cox's "Boat Renovation on Inani Beach Cox's Bazar”©IUCN Asia/ Ann Moey

“Boat Renovation on Inani Beach Cox’s Bazar”©IUCN Asia/ Ann Moey

*****

About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN’s work focuses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world, and brings governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organisation, with almost 1,300 government and NGO Members and more than 15,000 volunteer experts in 185 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by almost 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.

Learn more at: www.iucn.org

About MFF

Mangroves for the Future (MFF) is a partnership-based regional initiative which promotes investment in coastal ecosystem conservation for sustainable development. MFF focuses on the role that healthy, well-managed coastal ecosystems play in building the resilience of ecosystem-dependent coastal communities in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. The initiative uses mangroves as a flagship ecosystem, but MFF is inclusive of all types of coastal ecosystem, such as coral reefs, estuaries, lagoons, sandy beaches, sea grasses and wetlands. MFF is co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP, and is funded by Danida, Norad, Sida and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Thailand.

Learn more at: www.mangrovesforthefuture.org

 

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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Ten Years of Transformational Tourism Across Asia

Categories: Asia, Blog Posts
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ten years rti-logo-new

Celebrating a decade of best practice in responsible travel

Ten years ago Wild Asia, a social enterprise in Malaysia, identified a need to work with industries, rather than against them, to improve social and environmental impacts of the private sector. One of those industries was tourism, and as a way to inspire and educate businesses from around the region, they set out on a mission to identify and reward the best examples of responsible tourism and share them on a B2B platform. A decade later, Wild Asia has one of the largest collections of case studies on sustainable travel practices in the region, and has assessed hundreds of tourism enterprises of all shapes and sizes and geographical locations.

ten years spneva01

2016 marks the 10th birthday of the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards. Instead of running a traditional awards competition, this year Wild Asia has been focusing on consolidating lessons learned in a decade of responsible tourism, and has been re-connecting with past recipients to share stories of best practice.

This year’s activities will be celebrated and shared at ITB Asia, and then available open source on their website: www.rt.wildasia .org. The awards family is excited to share inspiring stories and open-source documentation, that will highlight successes, challenges, impacts made, and insights across the program to date. During this year’s ITB Asia, Wild Asia will share a reflection report and premiere several short engaging and educational documentaries of Awardees from around South and South East Asia.

2016ʹs special celebration could not be possible without the generous support of GIZ. “Presented by the Responsible and Inclusive Business Hub Southeast Asia (RIBH SEA) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) Responsible and Inclusive Business Hub Southeast Asia”

Responsible Tourism at ITB Asia

The Responsible Tourism Events at ITB Asia, Asia’s largest travel trade show, is a growing success. These events started in 2009 as a collaboration with ITB Asia’s CSR partner, Wild Asia, a leading sustainability consultancy. These events aim to showcase and provide practitioners and experts in the field of sustainability, a platform to share stories, case studies, and tools to help operators run their business better; for the environment and for local people in destinations.

This year, Wild Asia is proud to announce 2016’s series of Responsible Tourism events. Our line up of speakers have been carefully chosen to provide you with the latest trends, lessons learnt from successful case studies and inspiration needed to help you become better and more sustainable in your business. The events will be held on 20 and 21 October at Sands Expo and Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

The following topics will be discussed and it will be held at the Responsible Tourism Hub, a prominent booth in the exhibition hall is the main hub where the talks will be held. More details on the talks can be found here: http://bit.ly/rtevents2016

Some of the topics include:

  • Tourism and child protection – The Childsafe movement
  • The role of community based tourism in visitor dispersion and the spread of the tourism dollar
  • Storytelling to promote the Mekong region
  • Money-spinners for the tourism business: Go local, engage community and test eco solutions
  • Seeing beauty and value in waste
  • MICE tourism as a driver for sustainability?: Case studies and leadership lessons from Asia
  • Passion is not enough: Preparing for success in wildlife and nature tourism marketing
  • The rise of CSR in MICE
  • Marketing for BTWO and founding trustee for Tlhokomela Bostwana Endangered Species Trust

ten years soneva02

On the last day of the trade show, 21 October, 2016 from 11am to 1pm, Wild Asia will be celebrating our 10th year anniversary of our flagship Responsible Tourism Awards. We have handpicked ten award winners around the region to share their stories. This extraordinary two-hour special will showcase ten leaders and pioneers in responsible tourism. Join us for an amazing time as we discover, listen and watch a collection of short clips as our all-stars share their successes and challenges in their journey towards creating a business that impacts positively on local communities and planet earth. We will also share insights and lessons learnt after a decade of assessing and awarding sustainable tourism businesses in Asia. Also speaking at this special event are notable speakers from GIZ and the Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN).

—————– end ——————-

Notes to Editor:

About ITB Asia and Wild Asia 

ITB Asia, the annually held three day B2B trade show and convention – now in its seventh year in Singapore – will take place in Marina Bay Sands this year. It is organised by Messe Berlin (Singapore) Pte Ltd and supported by the Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau. This is where international exhibitors of all sectors of the travel-value chain, Asia Pacific’s leading travel companies and emerging small and medium-sized enterprises meet with top international buyers from the MICE, Leisure and Corporate Travel markets. http://www.itb-asia.com/

Wild Asia is a social enterprise working to protect and support the conservation of natural areas and local communities via the tourism industry. Wild Asia’s Responsible Tourism Initiative works through strategic partnerships with businesses and modules to facilitate learning and implementation of international standards and guidelines. Our ultimate goal is to promote sustainable practices that will adverse impacts on the environment and ensure that local communities are engaged and empowered. For more on Wild Asia’s tourism work, go to www.rt.wildasia.org

Media access and contact:

For more information or media passes to cover the Responsible Tourism events, please contact us at the contact details below:

Deborah Chan
Responsible Tourism Associate & Responsible Tourism Events Manager
Email: deborah@wildasia.org

Amy McLoughlin
Responsible Tourism Awards Manager & Associate Specialist
Email: amy@wildasia.org

 

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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