This month saw the launch of the 2014 WTM Responsible Tourism Website and along with other developments within our community over the past few months, I found myself thinking once more about responsible blogging.
My keen interest in responsible tourism actually started back when Web 2.0 was rarely used, when Facebook was a mere twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye and as a student I was a fully paid up member of Tourism Concern.
Through attending their AGM I learnt a lot more about some of the issues that were facing the tourism industry at the time and with typical youthful exuberance I undertook a couple of email marketing campaigns to raise awareness amongst those I knew to be keen travellers.
The difficulty I had to overcome was that the concept of responsible tourism didn’t really resonate with those I was trying to influence.
By suggesting they shouldn’t ride elephants whilst holidaying in Asia, I was merely viewed as someone trying to “spoil their fun”. Imploring them to reconsider using a hotel chain who were allegedly displacing a local population by building a new mega resort was viewed with disdain.
Trying to make an impact and influence the travelling decisions of those I reached out to was laborious at best.
Why not harness this influence and use it to educate travellers worldwide, helping them to become more responsible in the first place.For years I have always been an ardent supporter of travel bloggers, with a firm belief in their ability to impact travel decisions. The blogging programme at previous World Travel Market shows has demonstrated that bloggers can effectively reach out to a captive audience, communicate specific messages and in turn influence travel decisions.
I reached out to our friends at Care for the Wild and spoke with Chris Pitt, who manages their RIGHT-tourism.org campaign. We chatted about their work, the challenges they face and how bloggers can help.
“Good travel bloggers have developed a trust with their readers, and good travel bloggers look beyond the shine of a resort or venue to see the truth behind it. That’s exactly what we’re asking them to do when it comes to animals in tourism – look beyond the excitement of the elephant trek and ask why the elephant is there? Look beyond the party of Pamplona and ask what happens to the bulls?
So if good travel bloggers can do this, and can understand the truth about what is going on, whether it’s in terms of responsible tourism, eco-tourism or animals in tourism, then when they write about it, their readers will trust their judgement and listen. Traditional media has played this role in the past, and still does in some ways, but travel bloggers are an ever increasing force, and thus they can play a huge role in promoting responsible tourism.”
Care for the Wild developed an Animal-friendly Tourist Pledge, which I believe provides a useful framework for bloggers to use when communicating their experiences to their readers.
- Won’t attend a show which encourages animals to perform in a non-natural way
- Won’t have my photo taken holding a wild animal
- Will keep my distance from animals in the wild so I don’t disturb or harm them
- Won’t buy or eat anything that could have come from an endangered animal
- Will think about how my tourist experience is impacting on the animals I come across.
What do you think?
- As a blogger, would you consider incorporating this into how you experience travel and then talk about it online?
- If you are from the travel trade and work with bloggers, would you welcome working with bloggers who take a stance like this?