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Published on : Friday, November 8, 2013
The most important comment during the responsible tourism action in the world – World Responsible Tourism Day – was the last one, made by WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor Harold Goodwin as he closed the debate on water. He observed that far more people were in the audience for marketing responsible tourism, than turned up to the three events addressing Climate Change, Water Scarcity, and Child Protection. But, he told everyone: “Tui won the overall Responsible Tourism award this year precisely because they had the courage to take on an issue like Child Protection and put them back in the mainstream.”
Earlier, Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director of WTM, opened World Responsible Tourism Day with a reminder that not only is the London event the largest responsible tourism initiative in the world, it is also supported by actions taking place all around the planet, and declaring: “Responsible Tourism should be in every boardroom”.
The opening event was a roundtable on tourism and carbon pollution, chaired by BBC HARDtalk’s Steven Sackur, and which Press called: “The key issue for the industry.” Johan Lundgren, Deputy Chief Executive of Tui Travel claimed it wasn’t just a matter of doing the right thing, that it made business sense. “Cutting carbon emissions increases our competitive advantage and saves us millions,” he said. He also criticized long term sustainability and emissions targets as being too easy to ignore, stating “Targets need to be for short term, to incentivize organizations and penalize bad behavior.”
Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism for South Africa, said: “It is indefensible that we continue to conduct ourselves as we did in the past,” but added that it was essential for developing countries not to be penalized for damage that was mostly the fault of richer countries like the US.
There was little agreement on whether taxes could provide the solution, with Jumeirah Group CEO Johan Lundgren commenting: “Have you ever seen a government that spends the tax its raises on the things it needs to be spent on?”
The other major debate of the day was on water, with the motion being: “This house believes that the tourism industry will not do enough to achieve appropriate reductions in water usage without regulation by national governments.”