In a year where destinations from Barcelona and Venice to Pattaya and Easter Island have struggled with the impacts of growing numbers of tourists in their destinations, a considerable focus of this year’s WTM Responsible Tourism Programme looks at how the industry might best address these issues.
On Tuesday 4th November, the panel Increasing the local economic benefits of tourism explores ways of shifting away from the focus on boosting visitor numbers towards ensuring more direct local benefits. The panelists are Jane Ashton, the Director of Sustainable Development at TUI; Jenefer Bobbin, Founding Director at JUSTreport; Harold Goodwin, WTM Responsible Tourism consultant and Professor of Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University; and Cillian Murphy, Chairperson Loop Head Tourism Ireland. Together they will look at four different examples of initiatives to measure and/or increase the local economic benefits of tourism that focus on wages, local procurement and yield.
Earlier that day another panel meets to discuss the question: What is the role of Government in Managing Tourism in destinations? Speakers are yet to be confirmed, but they will explore issues such as how can local communities and their governments maximise the benefits of tourism while minimising negative impacts; and how can local people feel they are using tourism to make theirs a better place to live in, rather than that their place is being used by tourism?
Last year WTM London expanded its responsible tourism programme across all four days of the event. So popular was the inaugural Monday event, that the format is being repeated for WTM London 2015. This year, therefore, a high level panel will meet on Monday afternoon to discuss Destination Partnerships, and they will be focussing on the examples of iconic destinations Barcelona & Venice. The panel is chaired once again by Martin Brackenbury, the Director of Classic Collection Holidays; and it includes Gary Wilson, Managing Director, Product and Purchasing at TUI Group and Nikki White, Head of Destinations and Sustainability, at ABTA. Using the examples of these two cities, the panel will discuss how positive change can be achieved for the benefit of destination communities, their natural and cultural environment and the tourists who visit them.
“The management of tourism by destinations is a controversial subject at the moment with many high profile and hugely popular tourism destinations and attractions introducing caps and restrictions to manage tourism flows,” said Goodwin. “The responsible tourism programme at WTM London will explore how destinations can benefit from tourism while also minimising the impact.”
Beyond the focus on destinations, WTM’s Responsible Tourism panels continue to discuss the tourism issues making headlines. None more so than the Tuesday panel on Taking Responsibility for Wildlife and National Parks, which with the recent shooting of Cecil the Lion has taken on added significance. And as the Paris climate talks take place just a few weeks after World Travel Market London, it is fitting that this year’s flagship debate and keynote speech both address tourism and climate change.
Other topics covered during the four days of debates and seminars include Child Protection, Gender and Tourism, Snowsports, Cruises and Food Tourism. More information on the details of these events and their speakers will be released shortly.