1: Why using local guides matters
Over the past twenty years, the world has truly become a smaller place. Once hard to reach, remote parts of the planet that used to be only for the most adventurous of tourists, have become more accessible. Places like the Himalayas of Nepal, the tiny fishing villages of Southeast Asia and the bushland of the Maasai have opened their doors for travelers, allowing us to see their beautiful unique cultures as never before.
Although it is wonderful that more of the remote corners of the world are now accessible, it comes with a price. The negative impact of tourism on the environment, culture and people of a place, threatens it’s very own authenticity and landscape. This is why choosing sustainable travel is critical if we want to preserve and protect these destinations for the future.
2: Greek-Syrian mayor and refugees bring tourist village back to life
Around 320 refugees, mostly from Syria, now live in an LM Village summer resort that closed over five years ago as a result of Greece’s financial crisis.
The idea to reopen the resort as a refugee reception centre came from local mayor, Nabil-Iosif Morad, a Syrian doctor from Homs who has lived in Greece for 25 years.
He offered the resort after the Greek Government asked local mayors for help in taking in the 57,460 refugees still in Greece,
3: Raising tourist’s awareness of at risk destination can increase demand, making matters worse
Tourists are likely to react negatively when we raise their awareness of the negative consequences of their intended or actual behaviour, according to new research. This reactance (the emotional reaction to pressure or persuasion that results in the strengthening or adoption of a contrary belief) is likely to manifest itself in four stages:
First tourists are likely to deny the threat, such as climate change, by stating that they did not know or they weren’t sure of how bad their behaviour was. When this is no longer possible, they reduce tensions arising from travel, for example through denial of consequences, downward comparison (when people compare themselves to those who are less proficient than they are), denial of responsibility, denial of control, exception handling (this doesn’t apply to me) and compensation through benefits. All of these aim to divert attention from themselves and show that others are the cause of the problem, and that their actions are of no consequence.
This leads to heightened demand, particularly for the most visibly threatened destinations. Which explains why travel to see polar bears has increased exponentially in recent years, together with travel to Cuba before the regime changes, and similar examples worldwide.
Read the original research here.
4: Hawaii’s tour operators and guides honored for protecting Hawaii’s resources
Hawaii Ecotourism Association (HEA) announced the winners of sustainable tourism awards at a luncheon in Waikiki. Twenty-three tour operators were certified as sustainable tour operators by HEA, a local nonprofit organization that protects Hawaii’s unique natural environment and host culture by promoting responsible travel.
Valley Isle Excursions, a company known providing luxury and eco-friendly tours to Hana and the road beyond, was awarded with the coveted the 2016 Sustainable Tour Operator Award. “This outstanding example of a sustainable tour operation far exceeds HEA’s mission and goal of protecting the unique natural and cultural resources of Hawaii nei,” said Aaron Lowe, President of HEA’s Board of Directors.
Read the full press release here.
5: Chinese region of Xinjiang to ban tourists to glaciers
Tourists have been forbidden from entering glaciers in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. “Glacier tourism brought in revenue of less than one billion yuan (152 million US dollars) over the past dozen years, but the loss from shrinking glaciers is incalculable,” said Li Jidong from the regional tourism administration.
According to the new regulation, tourists are only allowed to enjoy the sight of glaciers from a distance instead of walking on them.
Statistics showed the temperature of the region has risen 0.33 degrees Celsius to 0.39 degrees Celsius per decade over the past 50 years, almost three times the global average.
6: Transcaucasian hiking trail to connect cultures and preserve historic routes
The Transcaucasian Trail, a hiking path across the Caucasus Mountains, from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, shall be launched in Georgia this summer. A team of international and local volunteers will begin building the trail in Georgia’s Svaneti National Park in July and August 2016.
The ambitious trail will connect national parks and culturally significant sites of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, where over a dozen different languages are spoken in one of the most biologically diverse regions of the world. Many sections of the trail have been used for centuries by shepherds and explorers, travelling from village to village across the great valleys and passes of the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains.
7: Airbnb launches partnership with Indian women’s association
The world’s largest home-sharing website Airbnb has announced a partnership with a rural women’s Association in India. Airbnb has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA) to work with SEWA members to enable them to share their homes with Airbnb’s community of international and domestic guests. According to the FInan cial Experess, the move is aimed at “creating economic opportunities for women in rural areas and promoting tourism spend in parts of India that have not traditionally benefited from tourism and hospitality.”
The initiative will begin in the northern state of Gujarat with plans to roll out across the country. AIrbnb will provide training for SEWA members on home sharing, hospitality and amenity standards, and responsible hosting practices. “The partnership is an important step in Airbnb’s commitment to enable economic empowerment for female entrepreneurs and promote digital inclusion in rural areas,” said Director of Policy Partnerships Asia Pacific, Airbnb, Thao Nguyen. “Our mission is to democratize travel and through the partnership, we can help promote economic opportunities across diverse communities, help revitalize the rural economy and help prevent distress migration to urban areas, particularly among women and the youth.”
“Through the partnership, we will help our members become powerful micro-entrepreneurs, best placed to promote sustainable and responsible tourism in India,” SEWA director Reena Nanavaty told Outlook India.
8: Regulating tourism in the Galapagos Islands
Tourism can be a boost to any country’s economy. It can bring in millions of dollars and create thousands of jobs. But, it can also damage the environment and destroy what made a place so special and attractive to tourists in the first place. Consequently, countries across the globe have begun limiting the number of tourists allowed access to specific sites in an attempt to reconcile the benefits of tourism with environmental concerns. Italy has announced that they begin capping visitors to Cinque Terre in 2016, while the Thai government recently closed four islands indefinitely to tourists. Peru’s Machu Picchu is restricted to 2,500 visitors a day. Bhutan, Antarctica, and the Galapagos Islands are some of the more well-known places that have been working for years to balance environmental needs with a growing tourist demand.
9: The dark side of Uganda’s gorilla tourism industry
“Two decades ago Batwa pygmies were thrown out of their native forests in Uganda to make way for the country’s mountain gorilla tourism. Tommy Trenchard and Aurelie Marrier d’Unienville went to Rukeri in Uganda find out what happened next.
Since the days of Idi Amin in the 1970s, when Uganda’s wildlife was hunted down and slaughtered in great numbers, the country has earned a reputation as a conservation success story.
Uganda’s national parks now attract tourists from around the world and provide a significant boost to the country’s economy. Yet for the country’s estimated 3,000 to 7,000 Batwa it has come at a great cost. The evicted Batwa were never compensated with land by the government and most now live as squatters or vassals to local landowners.”
10: Quest for authentic tourism is sowing the seeds of its own destruction
Every week it seems, there are more stories about communities around the world banning or limiting tourism in order to protect that which they hold dear. Most recently, it has been the news that three Thai islands have been shut to tourism, with beach umbrellas, shops and restaurants all slated to be removed.
I’d never heard of the islands of Koh Khai Nok, Koh Khai Nui and Koh Khai Nai until this week. When I visited Thailand as a backpacker 25 years ago, it was Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui where those of us seeking escape and a good party went. We spoiled them; so we moved on to the next palm-fringed islands in our self-defeating quest for the undiscovered and pristine.
11: Measuring what matters in tourism
Increased local economic prosperity, an improvement in the quality of life, an enhancement of the natural environment, access to diverse employment opportunities, an increase in pride in culture and traditions. This is the promise that we make when we develop tourism in any destination anywhere in the world. It is the reason that tourism has been viewed in a favourable light by Governments and development agencies. It is the belief that communities buy into when they start to develop tourism. It facilitates the dream of unsullied cultures, welcoming hosts and pristine environments that tourism businesses sell to their customers. In essence, this promise lies at the core of our product. The significance of the promise is such that any casual observer would expect the tourism industry to have a wealth of mechanisms to ensure it is fulfilled. The casual observer would be wrong!
More than a century of mainstream tourism development has rendered this fantastic industry one of the most economically significant on the planet (or the most economically significant if you prefer – depending on whose data you trust). Measurement has been core to delivering change in the industry. We have an impressive array of complex algorithms at our finger tips against which to assess the economic benefits of tourism. The development of processes to record, benchmark and set targets for environmental issues has been crucial to driving reductions in energy and water consumption. The tools that can be used to measure the extent to which we fulfil our promise to the communities in the destinations that comprise our core product are rather more limited and very under-utilised.