The billion tourist question. Overshoot or Opportunity?

This Thursday, August 13th, is Global Overshoot Day, which marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. First measured in 1987, when it fell on December 19, it has moved ever further forward, so that by the Millennium it fell on November 1; by 2011 on September 27, and this year falls at its earliest date yet. Over the last few months many commentators on tourism have observed the social equivalent … [Read more...]

Collaboration is the only way forward for sustainable destination development

Recently on the island of Bali, the risks inherent in developing tourism disconnected from the destination community have become clear. Local residents are angered by plans to build an artificial island in Benoa Harbour, whose 800 hectares of land will then host villas, apartments, luxury hotels, a theme park and a Formula One racing circuit. Waves of discontent are growing, seen most recently on Oct 18 when several thousand people attended a 12 hour concert held in protest at the plans. Yet … [Read more...]

Innovator Spotlight: sustainable tourism in remote mountain communities with Andean Lodges

1 - What inspired you to create your business? We created Andean Lodges thanks to the initiative of two High Andean communities: Chillca and Osefina. During the 90s, the creation of roads allowed remote rural communities to connect with cities. This made business easier for these communities. However, for the alpaca-shepherding communities, this meant a significant drop off in business as the llamas, which were the traditional means of transportation, were replaced by trucks, at the same … [Read more...]

What should smart travel companies do about elephant rides, dolphinariums and orphanage visits?

Ride an Elephant. Cuddle an orphan. Watch a whale do tricks. For a long time they have been some of the most emotive experiences travel companies can offer. In recent months, however, there have been several negative stories about each of these, many of which we have covered, such as here for dolphins and here for orphanages. I am not going to go into the issues again, but rather look at how travel companies chose to respond. From what I have seen, the responses can be split into three … [Read more...]

Innovator Spotlight: how to discover an authentic slice of rural Italy with Terra Tua

Terra Tua runs walking, bicycle and horse-riding tours in the Italian countryside, taking its guests off the beaten track to discover a slice of authentic village life. Jeremy Smith spoke to the company's manager and chief guide, Elena Riccioni about the challenges and rewards of running a responsible tourism business. What inspired you to create your business? It all began from the beauty and historical interest of our area and the realisation that visitors wanted to delve more deeply into … [Read more...]

How to make a difference in campaigns by using social media marketing for tourism

I spend a lot of my time studying how to use the ever growing number of tools available to communicate mine and my tourism clients' messages. Over the course of the next 700 or so words I will share some of the most important lessons I have learnt. And at the end of the blog there's a twist, and a quick experiment to explore how our industry might do more. Four days ago I shared what has already become my most popular Facebook post. One of my clients - a hotel in Dominica - had filmed their … [Read more...]

Innovator Spotlight: Surtrek and sustainable luxury travel in South America

Ecuador-based Surtrek is a 20-yr old responsible tourism business running luxury travel experiences across South America. Jeremy Smith spoke to its founder Alfonso Tandazo about his inspirations, challenges and ideas. 1 - What inspired you to create your business? Surtrek began 20 years ago with a local guide who had seen the environmental threat posed by conventional tourism to the region's cultural and natural resources – everything from the impairment the water supply and beaches, to … [Read more...]

The art of destination marketing: inspirational storytelling to sell responsible tourism

Good destination marketing is hard. So much has to be left out when you distill the essence of a place and its people into a pithy phrase, that there is a tendency to play it safe. No wonder the majority of tourism destination slogans favour superlatives that do little other than boast about their country being the most beautiful place in the world. With its new ‘Reconsider South Africa’ video, South Africa tourism takes a different approach, shifting the focus from 'aren't I beautiful?' to … [Read more...]

Innovator Spotlight: developing community tourism in remote rural India

Maroon Migrates develops innovative responsible tourism experiences in the Indian state of Gujarat. For the first of our new style Spotlight, Jeremy Smith speaks to the company's founder, Nischal Barot, about how the company's approach to responsible tourism and the lessons he has learned along the way. What inspired you to create your business? My hometown is the source of my Inspiration. I am from the Narmada District of Gujarat. Returning home after my Masters in Environmental Science, I … [Read more...]