The central focus of World Responsible Tourism Day each year is the series of events that take place at World Travel Market in London. But as well as this, all over the world companies that have committed to supporting the event use the day to draw attention to the issues around responsible tourism in their own communities, and they do this in many different ways. Here are five of my favourite World Responsible Tourism Day events that took place around the world in 2013.
1) INDIA – Greener Pastures
Greener Pastures is an ecotourism organization based in Northeast India, focussed on supporting local communities through sustainable development and responsible tourism.The company marked the day by organizing an educational trip for underprivileged village children to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. All the children were students at Parijat Academy, an inspirational school for children from poor backgrounds, which started with just three students back in 2003 and today has more than 500. First the children were taken on a 2 hour jeep safari through the park, where they saw – most if not all of them for the first time – elephants, rhinoceros and many rare birds. After that the group was joined by Nipen Nath, a local environmentalist, who gave a talk about Pobitora, the importance of wildlife conservation, and most importantly, the conservation of rhinos, which are under threat from poachers in India just as they are in Africa.
2) AUSTRALIA – Savannah Guides
Savannah Guides is a network of professional tour guides and tour operators based in the tropical savannahs of northern Australia. On the 6th November 2013, Savannah Guide Ken Fairbairn took local school students on an educational excursion on the Gulflander Train in Normanton to promote and develop the concept of Responsible Tourism. Before the day students had been asked to fill in a questionnaire on Responsible Tourism. If they completed the answers and had shown good attendance rates and grades during the term, they got to join a special tour on the Gulflander Train in Far North Queensland on World Responsible Tourism Day, while engaging in responsible tourism discussions with the guide on the way.
3) PAKISTAN – Serena Hotels
Serena Hotels operates hotels in Africa and Asia. This year all four of Serena’s hotels in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan took part in local World Responsible Tourism Day events, with the main theme for their day being promoting a cleaner local environment and helping their communities understand the importance of conserving natural and cultural heritage. Each hotel arranged a clean up of the local area and held education sessions and an environmental awareness walk with local children on conservation of cultural and heritage awareness. In addition, the Serena Shigar Fort and Serena Khaplu Palace were opened for school children and women from the local community to visit and learn about their part in their community’s heritage.
4) ARGENTINA – Sumak Sustainable Travel
Sumak Sustainable Travel is a UK based operator of responsible tourism trips to Latin America. The company committed to writing and promoting a daily blog on responsible tourism throughout the week of World Travel Market. Each blog contained photographs and stories of new initiatives in Latin America that focussed on responsible tourism. Each of these initiatives were run by Sumak’s various local partners, and the stories explored what they were doing to develop sustainable and responsible tourism, with topics ranging from co-operative rural tours in Argentina to eco-friendly treks to discover the hidden secrets of Colombia.
5) COSTA RICA – Il Viaggio Travel
Il Viaggio Travel is an inbound tour agency which designs and runs bespoke itineraries and packages for people who wish to discover Costa Rica in an environmentally sustainable way. The company used the day to highlight their work with local communities. They donated supplies to a local school, and then all of their staff, the school children’s parents and the school board worked together to repaint the school over the course of the day.
You can read how other companies have created their own World Responsible Tourism Day events in 2013 here.