Home > Events, Responsible Tourism News > Notes from 2011 World Responsible Tourism Day (Part 1)

Notes from 2011 World Responsible Tourism Day (Part 1)

Adding to earlier posts by Karen and Mariana, here are some more highlights (plus resources if you wish to follow up) from the 2011 World Responsible Tourism Day (WRTD).

Businesses get concerned about human rights

For the first time, Tourism Concern, with its 21-year history of campaigning for a fairer deal for local communities and the environment affected by the tourism trade, held a session during the WRTD program.


“The UN has now clarified standards of business responsibility and human rights… [Its] Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the accompanying ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework clearly establish the business responsibility to respect human rights as a global baseline for all companies, everywhere.”

You can follow this up by finding out why the tourism industry needs to take a human rights approach.

Winners and winners

I’ve not looked closely into Joint Overall Winner of the Responsible Tourism Awards, Robin Pope Safaris, mainly because the other Joint Winner absorbed much of my attention.  Although just a young enterprise, Unseen Tours (London’s Street Voices) is a demonstration of what can be done to achieve a multiplicity of positive outcomes for all involved whilst operating within the realms of the tourism trade.  Another interesting facet of this initiative is that the tours play host to locals in the destination–businesses groups have also been signing up to go on these alternative tours of their own city.  I’ve written more on this elsewhere.

Guests with disabilities also have bad days

Some excellent insights were provided at the session on “taking responsibility for ensuring access for all”. Paraphrasing speakers, recurrent themes went along these lines:

“There’s more to accessibility than physical limitations.  Progress mostly hinges on changing attitudes and overcoming some widely-held misconceptions.”


“There’s more to disability than a wheel-chair.  Wheel chair users account for only 5% of the disabled population.  Think hearing, think sight too.  Just think about the growing number of holidaymakers who are adventurous and aged!


“There are significant market opportunities for those willing to go beyond legal compliance.  But this requires some thought, and involves talking to your potential customers.”

Craig Grimes from Experience Community made the point that what is often lacking is basic information.  Even where operators are uncertain whether they provide full accessibility, they can do a lot by simply letting the experts, i.e. those living with disabilities, decide.  This can be as straightforward as posting images of facilities as they are on web pages, listing door dimensions, describing fittings, or uploading videos or storyboards to show routes in and out of premises or craft.  We were furnished with a wealth of information on this issue.  Some useful sources are:

The session also served to show how much progress can be made when there is collaboration across sectors–Tourism For All, VisitBritain, Open Britain and ABTA all seem to be working closely together on this aspect of responsible tourism.

More notes to follow shortly in a Part 2 to this post.


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