Responsible Tourism and sustainable tourism are not the same thing. Sustainability is hard to define; it is an abstract idea of a better future for us, our children and our grandchildren. Sustainable tourism is an also an abstract idea and the agenda is so broad that very few, if any, businesses can address all of it.
So sustainable tourism is the aim, Responsible Tourism is the means by which a business becomes more sustainable. Responsible Tourism is about identifying the issues which matter locally – the economic, social and environment issues which matter to local people; the issues which affect their culture, environment and livelihoods.
In the World Responsible Tourism Awards we look for people and businesses that are using tourism to make better places for people to live in, because great places to live are great places to visit. We are looking for inspiring examples of businesses which are demonstrably making a difference, businesses which have taken responsibility and can show the results of their efforts.
The bar gets higher every year. This week we have published the longlist – the competition has been tough, so to get this far is an achievement. In our 12th year 206 tourism businesses, organisations and initiatives from a record 69 countries have made the longlist, which for the first time contains representatives from every continent, since the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators are longlisted.
The launch this year of national awards with the Irish Centre for Responsible Tourism and the Irish Responsible Tourism Awards; and regional awards with the African Responsible Tourism Awards at WTM Africa has extended the reach of the World Responsible Tourism Awards and strengthened the competition. The partnership with World Travel Market has strengthened our programme and the Responsible Tourism programme that is now run at the WTM shows in London, Cape Town, Sao Paulo and Arabia has made a major contribution to encouraging people to take responsibility for making tourism more sustainable.
Those who have made the longlist should be proud to have made it so far and now take the time necessary to complete the documentation which will go to the judges for the next stage. It takes time to assemble the evidence that the judges expect to see on judging day, where competition is stiff and the decisions are tough.
Those who have not made it this far this year should reflect on whether they did as good a job as they could have done of telling our long-listers about how they have taken responsibility for using tourism to make better places for people to live in and what they have achieved.
The winners will be announced on WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Day, supported by UNWTO, at WTM in London on Wednesday November 4th.
The longlist is online here.
The independent judging team will debate and make their own decision as to the winners, based on the evidence and information provided to them. Any support or otherwise for the longlisted organisations can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.