Redefine Tourism Campaign
WTTC has launched a video campaign aiming to stimulate discussion about sustainable tourism among those who engage in or provide tourism, and for whom it is not normally a topic of conversation. Sustainable tourism has been in existence for many years. However, it is still considered a distinct niche activity involving upmarket Eco Lodges rather than a fundamental element of what all tourism could be. As the social and environmental pressures increase, and tourism itself continues to grow year on year, there is an urgent need for sustainable practices to become mainstream within the tourism sector. While the subject has been widely researched, discussed and debated, including at several WTTC Global Summits, there is a need to evolve the nature of the discussion and the language used into something more accessible to those outside the ‘sustainability’ community. The main post discussing the campaign and calling on action from people can be found here. The campaign has also been supported by 6 travel bloggers; their posts on sustainable tourism and the future of travel can be found here.
Accessible Tourism Focus – Interview with the creators of the crowdsourced Wheelmap project
Wheelmap is a fast-growing crowdsourced map of accessible destinations and facilities around the world. Since its launch 6 years ago, volunteers around the world have marked nearly 700,000 places on the map, with approximately 500 newly marked places added every day. WTTC spoke with Silke Georgi from Sozialhelden (Social Heroes), the German nonprofit organisation behind the project.
WTTC: How has Wheelmap collaborated with the tourism industry?
Silke: We have recently concentrated our efforts more on the tourism sector than before and have found a strong partner in the ITB Tourism Trade Fair. They supported our most recent worldwide MapMyDay campaign – during which we called on people everywhere to mark places of touristic interest – and we are expanding that cooperation to include other areas as well. We have also been working closely with Berlin’s official tourism bureau – visitBerlin – to promote accessible tourism in Germany’s capital. For that purpose we created the website http://berlin.travelable.info/en/ together with them as an example on how to gather and present accessible tourism information to make it readily available for a city’s visitors. We also have a very good contact with Martin Heng, Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Manager, who has been very supportive of our work while we have been spreading the word about Lonely Planet’s excellent guides on accessible tourism to our community.
WTTC: This year the theme for World Tourism Day is Tourism for All. To coincide you ran a campaign called MapMyDay. What was it about?
Silke: In December of last year we ran the first worldwide MapMyDay campaign together with the World Health Organisation for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. We got a very broad spectrum of companies, organizations and individuals involved and it was a huge success. In our multimedia documentation you can find an overview of all the activities of the first campaign. So we decided to build on this success and hold a second MapMyDay campaign for World Tourism Day, which very aptly had the focus n accessible tourism this year. We were able to motivate our partners in the tourism sector and our community of mappers worldwide to mark 3,000 new places during this campaign.
WTTC: How might Travel& Tourism companies looking to support accessible tourism get involved with the Wheelmap project?
Silke: The easiest way for tourism companies to get involved in Wheelmap is for them to mark their own locations on the online map according to their wheelchair accessibility. If you go to https://wheelmap.org you can search for the restaurant, museum, café or tourist attraction you would like travelers to be able to locate on Wheelmap. If the place has a grey marker on the map, then its wheelchair accessibility has not yet been rated. By clicking on the place’s marker you can assign a red, yellow or green marker to the place, depending on its level of wheelchair accessibility. If the tourist place is not yet on the map it is also very easy to add it as a new location. Photos showing more details of the location can also be added – as well as comments, contact details and the website URL.
Companies can organize a fun and informative team building day with their employees by heading off into those parts of town that are especially interesting for tourists and marking places in small groups using the Wheelmap smartphone apps. On our website there is a great deal of information on how to run such mapping events.
In addition, travel or tourism companies that have large amounts of data on wheelchair accessibility can get in touch with us about how to incorporate their data into the Wheelmap. They can also help spread the word to their business partners about the advantages of appearing (for free!) on the Wheelmap, which is the world’s largest database on wheelchair accessibility with over 700,000 marked locations. This can be done in newsletters, on a blog, on social media, in guide books and brochures, at conferences and in personal contacts.
For our new Wheelmap-inspired website “Travelable.info” we are working together with municipalities and tourism bureaus in Germany to collect detailed information on accessible tourism in German cities and to make it readily available to tourists. We are planning to expand this website internationally and will be looking for partnering possibilities in other countries as well.
Tourism and the SDGs: Goal 14 – Life Below Water
The world’s oceans, seas and beaches are at the heart of tourism. Their images proliferate across the industry’s marketing and the experiences they offer motivate millions of people’s holiday decisions. Few, therefore, of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are as intertwined with tourism as number 14.
Titled ‘Life Below Water’, the 14th goal aims to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. It is one of just three of the 17 goals to explicitly mention tourism, arguing that tourism development must be a part of integrated Coastal Zone Management in order to help conserve and preserve fragile ecosystems and serve as a vehicle to promote the blue economy, and that “by 2030 [the world should] increase the economic benefits of SIDS and LCDs from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism”.
The breadth of experiences and services that the seas and coastal regions supply to tourism includes wildlife watching for bird, whales, dolphins and turtles. Fishing, or just enjoying eating fresh seafood while on holiday. Diving on the world’s coral reefs. Simply swimming or boating. Every single one of these activities relies upon clean waters to provide a healthy and sustainable habitat to marine life from corals to blue whales.
The seas, however, are in crisis, suffering from a range of threats that include overfishing, pollution and climate change. A report published in the journal Science in 2015 found that every year 8 million metric tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans each year. In the Caribbean meanwhile, 100 million tons of waste ends up in the ocean every year, with 89% of it created by shoreline activities that facilitate and involve visiting tourists.
This doesn’t just make for unpleasant looking beaches and murky seas. Marine animals including turtles, seals, dolphins and sea birds can easily mistake litter for food. According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, plastic debris kills an estimated 100,000 marine mammals annually, as well as millions of birds and fishes.
Depending upon how it is managed, tourism can help or hinder. In just the last month, there have been calls to ban most sunscreens from tropical waters as they are destroying the coral reefs; to regulate manta ray tourism to protect these endangered creatures; and to limit or stop cruise ships from entering the canals at Venice.
Yet tourism can also offer solutions. This year, one of the Tourism for Tomorrow finalists in the environment category was North Sailing, an Icelandic travel company that takes tourists inside the Arctic Circle. The company’s schooner Opal was the first ship in the world to be installed with a Regenerative Plug-In Hybrid Propulsion System, meaning she neither creates any pollution nor disturbs the wildlife that people have come to see.
Elsewhere, destinations that are reliant on marine-based ecotourism are creating ocean sanctuaries to protect these precious resources. A 2010 Australian study calculated that shark divers bring Palau $18m per year, with each swimming shark worth $1.9m in diving and tourism. In 2015, the Pacific island’s government created the 230,000 sq miles Palau National Marine Sanctuary, establishing one of the world’s largest marine protected areas.
There’s much else that the industry can do. Hotels can participate in beach clean ups, such as the ones co-ordinated around the world as part of the Make Holidays Greener campaign each year by the Travel Foundation. Or they can offer guests opportunities to not only swim on local reefs, but to support their regrowth through cleaning and planting coral saplings. Travel companies and hotels alike can ensure that they promote responsible interactions with marine wildlife, whether when whale watching or while diving. For any company looking to do this, ABTA’s Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism, a Tourism for Tomorrow finalist in 2015, is an excellent place to start.
Positive psychology research suggests how best to influence guest behaviour
Travel companies and organisations looking to motivate their customers and guests to undertake more sustainable actions should focus on activities that both are character strength-building and promote human happiness, says recently published research. In a paper titled “Using character strength-based activities to design pro-environmental behaviours into the tourist experience”, such approaches are said to be the most effective form of approach.
Written by Griffith’s University’s Christopher Warren and Alexandra Coghlan, and based on research at the Australian eco-cottages run by Christopher Warren, the paper looks at six real-world examples from Christopher’s ecotourism venture. These include activities such as getting guests to save their food scraps and feed them to the chickens; enabling guests to plant a native tree; and encouraging them to select natural ventilation at night instead of air conditioning.
In each of these and the other examples, guests are informed of the environmental context of their actions, so they see how they both benefit themselves and wider sustainability goals. The authors conclude that “targeting character strengths such as self-regulation, citizenship, hope, perspective and social intelligence may be an effective way to drive change towards more sustainability-oriented behaviours”.
INNOVATION FOCUS: Nat Geo launches ‘Urban Expeditions’ multimedia series to explore sustainability in cities
In response to this escalating phenomenon, National Geographic has launched a multimedia series to identify cutting-edge research and exploration projects that are leading the way in sustainable urbanisation in the three key areas of food, buildings and transportation.
The ‘Urban Expeditions’ initiative is a collaboration between National Geographic and technology provider United Technologies Corp that seeks to focus on these three issues and introduce viewers to progressive leaders across the various disciplines. “National Geographic has a long history of investing in bold people working to better understand the world around us and to develop solutions to our most pressing challenges,” said Brooke Runnette, Chief Program and Impact Officer at National Geographic Society. “The issues around rapid urbanisation are only getting more complex, and the Urban Expeditions project allows us to continue to support and explore projects that will be instrumental to solving them.”
PATA Tourism New Frontiers Forum heads to Bangladesh
The theme for the next PATA Tourism New Frontier Forum is ‘Designing a sustainable tourism brand – an integrative approach to building a responsible coastal destination.’ This year, the conference heads to the Royal Tulip Sea Pearl Beach Resort & Spa, Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, coinciding with Visit Bangladesh 2016. Over the course of three days from November 23-25, sessions will explore themes such as ‘Re-defining Fair Trade and Promoting Tourism to Bangladesh’; ‘Building a Sustainable Tourism Destination with Living Heritage Communities’, ‘Rethinking Sustainable Coastal and Marine Tourism Development’ and ‘Development and Marketing of Heritage Trails.’ The first day of the three day event will see delegates step out of the hotel on a ‘Technical Tour and Tourism Marketing Treasure Hunt – a one-day field session where they will be challenged to explore Cox’s Bazar and the surrounding area. Delegates will be encouraged to engage with the culture and people of the destination, while using a range of digital tools to promote what they discover.
DESTINATION FOCUS: Best countries for adventure tourism announced in annual Adventure Tourism Development Index
Each year the Adventure Tourism Development Index (ATDI) declares which are the top ten countries in adventure travel competitiveness among both developing nations and developed nations. For this year’s edition of the report, which was published at September’s Adventure Travel World Summit in Alaska, the top ten developing countries were: Czech Republic, Israel, Estonia, Chile, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Poland, Republic of Korea and Romania. Meanwhile, the top ten developed country destinations were: Iceland, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Finland, Austria, and Denmark.
Created by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and the International Institute of Tourism Studies at The George Washington University (GWU), the ATDI is the only country-level ranking for adventure tourism that incorporates data from non-subjective sources, with countries assessed across the following ten categories: Government Policy (that supports sustainable development), Safety & Security, Health, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources, Adventure Activity Resources, Entrepreneurship, Humanitarian, Tourism Infrastructure, and Brand.
Written and edited by Jeremy Smith
Click here for the original WTTC newsletter. Copyright @ WTTC 2016
Four weeks left to apply for WTTC’s 2017 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards! Anyone working towards a more responsible tourism industry can apply before the 14th of November 2016 in one of the five categories – People, Environment, Innovation, Community and Destination. The awards are open to individuals, organisations and destinations of all sizes, and winning is one of the best ways to bring your initiative to a wider audience, showcasing best practice to governments and other business, as well as instilling pride and motivation in those who work on your efforts. Please watch this videofeaturing previous Tourism for Tomorrow Awards Winners and their contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.