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Industry Left Behind in Ethical Thinking, says WTM Chairman

Industry Left Behind in Ethical Thinking, says WTM Chairman (Forimmediaterelease.net) Second WTM World Responsible Tourism Day Launched at Kerala Conference

The strong consumer trend towards ethical thinking - and shopping - is sadly not being mirrored by the mainstream international travel and tourism industry.

Speaking at the second International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Kerala, India, last weekend, Fiona Jeffery, Chairman of World Travel Market claimed: “There is evidence that travel and tourism is lagging behind this trend for ethical thinking. Despite some excellent responsible tourism work around the world, there’s still a very long way to go”.

Jeffery, pioneer of responsible tourism at World Travel Market in London for the past 14 years, was launching the second WTM World Responsible Tourism Day (Wednesday 12 November), the most ambitious day of global action for responsible tourism ever undertaken.

The initiative is in association with the UNWTO and supported by leading industry associations worldwide such as the World Travel&Tourism Council and PATA.
In a keynote speech, Jeffery continued:”Certainly in the UK, WTM World Responsible Tourism Day has come at the right time. In the past eight years, ethical concerns have soared in the UK with household expenditure on ethical goods and services almost doubling in the past five years.

Agenda Broadened
“The agenda has broadened, the industry is addressing the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental sustainability.
“Ecotourism is considered the fastest growing market in the tourism industry with a current international growth rate of 5%, representing 6% of the world’s gross domestic product.
“Tourism is undoubtedly changing rapidly as nature, heritage and leisure destinations become key and as conventional tourism is forced to meet stricter environmental needs. This presents a challenge for government and the private sector to develop new economically viable tourism strategies.”
She said that the aim of WTM World Responsible Tourism Day is that it will act as a catalyst for change, spreading best practice throughout the industry. But she warned that much more than lip service was needed by larger companies and organisations.
“It is noticeable”, she continued, “ that much of the current examples of best practice are operated by smaller organisations and specialist operators, often steered by passionate individuals who have given their life to ensuring a better world. Much more must be done by the international travel and tourism industry if it is to catch up with other sectors and fulfill the growing demands of holidaymakers.”
Water - Time bomb Waiting to Happen
Jeffery, who started the water-aid charity on behalf of the international industry ten years ago, pointed to the issue of water needing urgent attention. “Half the world's population is living in squalor and misery”, she said, “with unsanitary conditions and without access to clean water.

“The United Nation says that there could be water and improved sanitation facilities for all within 25 years if governments and industry made water provision an absolute priority. “

“In the WTM Tourism and Water Report 2007, published on the first WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, in association with the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, Leeds Metropolitan University, the results of our survey were at the very worst shocking and at the least a wake-up call to the industry to start addressing the problems of water. It is quite simply a time-bomb waiting to happen.

The report found, for example, that 92% of international hotel respondents said that they felt water was an issue they should address and that 53% believed that water shortages were already affecting their business. Even before the onslaught of predicted climate change, there are predicted demand increases and associated water scarcity in the next 5 -10 years.

“There was”, said Jeffery “one redeeming fact. We found that those hotels that are engaged in water conservation are making a real difference to the local communities.

“The key issue facing the industry is where water is diverted to meet the requirements of tourists, it can severely deplete local aquifers and drain water courses, leaving local people short of water.

“You know the kind of scenario I’m talking about. Guests at the luxury hotel and spa, in a stunning location, enjoy showers, baths and water based wellbeing treatments, clean towels twice a day and a complete change of bed linen – while a few kilometres down the coast, children and their families share a polluted water hole with their livestock. The European Environment Agency has highlighted that in the Mediterranean alone, it is not uncommon for a tourist to use on average over four times as much water as a local resident.

“It is a fact that the tourism industry is able to pay more for water than locals. It is the poor who go short of water.”

Industry Muscle Needed
Calling for more organisations and companies to become actively involved in WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, Jeffery said:” The industry, by its very nature, is healthily competitive. And no one would want to change its sense of creativity, enterprise and innovation.
“But this is the one time when collective industry muscle is needed to help reverberate the message of responsible tourism across the world.
“This is not about World Travel Market the brand or politics or even, for that matter, one-upmanship.
“It’s crucially about the future of our industry, about the next generation, about keeping pace with the acceleration of change, about giving an eye to consumer thinking.
“Above all, it’s about jobs, people and a better quality of life for all.”

For more information on WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, or to apply for the WTM World Responsible Day logo, log onto www.wtmwrtd.com or contact Araminta Sugden on the WRTD hotline service on +44 (0)1892 535943

For further information contact Jane Larcombe on +44 (0) 1892 785071; email jane@janelarcombecommunications.com

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