The human side of sustainable tourism – interview with Rika Jean-Francois

The human side of sustainable tourism - interview with Rika Jean-Francois

How tourism development impacts the life of people, and how sustainable tourism can contribute to world peace.

This article is part of the “Sustainable tourism insights” interview series with speakers and participants of the Green Destinations Conference in Athens, Greece held in September 2022.

Rika Jean-Francois is a Commissioner at ITB Corporate Social Responsibility, ITB Berlin and a board member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Anula Galewska, Travindy’s Managing Director, asked Rika about how tourism had changed in the last years, how it could better protect human rights for people, and how sustainable tourism could promote world peace.

According to Rika, COVID-19 provided the industry with an opportunity to rethink and reconsider how it develops tourism. Unfortunately, now everyone has come to the right conclusions. Some companies have only been waiting for tourism to recover to have big numbers again, not understanding that our planet’s resources are not unlimited. Climate change hasn’t gone anywhere either, its negative effects are experienced by people around the globe. Therefore, we should be really active in protecting our environment.

We should not forget about people, however. Rika points out that travel and tourism in their nature have always been against bigotry, and were promoting cross-cultural understanding. Tourism has a role to play when it comes to promoting world people, for instance by raising awareness and developing meaningful travel experiences, where we can learn from one another. This will be possible only if we engage all the stakeholders and create sustainable tourism products together wil local communities.

According to Rika, certification programs play a big role in promoting and ensuring that human rights are not violated in the tourism sector, however it is not enough yet. The social criteria in certification schemes need to be enhanced and there is room for improvement when it comes to creating socio-cultural indicators for the industry.

“Time has finally come to realise that sustainability and social responsibility is not just one thing you can do in one of the segments but it is part of the whole tourism industry” – Rika says.

Watch the interview with Rika Jean-Francois:

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