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Getting Close-serola, or when Talk Walking headed for the hills

30/05/2012 1 comment

Evarist March of NaturalWalks joined our group in the afternoon and led us “by the most natural route possible” from the top of the Collserola park down to the station for our suburban train back to Barcelona.  One of the most interesting facets of the conversation along the way related to public attitudes to this Natural Park.  While it seems much of the media and public discourse on the park is negative, pointing to issues such as the risk of forest fires and wild boars encroaching on peripheral residential areas, few stories celebrate the beauty and mere existence of this diverse natural area so close to the city.

I had been up to the park a few weeks before, taking a visiting friend up there.  It was by no means my first trip, but this time I was struck by my ignorance of the environment I was in.  Such ignorance is hardly uncommon, however.

Ring-fenced by motorways and a metropolis of more than 3 million, Parc Collserola is the biggest metropolitan park in the world, equivalent to twenty-two Central Parks (New York).  The Carretera de les Aigües–an accessible, broad 20-km track with panoramic views of sea and city–is very popular with cyclists, runners, walkers and horse-riders.  Yet despite its proximity to the city and the estimated two million visits it receives a year, the interior of the park is relatively unknown to many Barcelona-dwellers.

A day out in Parc Collserola to enjoy and better understand the park, its nature and use

Of course, it takes time–in books and in the field–to develop the kind of knowledge and familiarity you need to be able to interpret what you can see, hear, smell, touch and even taste in the Collserola Park.  So to get to some of that knowledge quicker, I got together a group of friends of the Xarxa de Turisme Responsable/ICRT Barcelona and we headed into the hills to “get closer” to the park, hence the droll name for this Facebook Group event.  Amongst us were an ornithologist, a botanist (Evarist), a landscape architect, a photographer and a counsellor.  And with a little pre-trip reading, we were set up for some interesting observations.  These notes offer a snapshot of what followed:

—     leaving behind the noise of the ring-road and entering “another place”.

—     no hoopoes this time–they’re migratory, suppose it was time they’d moved on.

—     a splendid garden, or a path up a south-facing valley where lavender, broom and a dozen other flowering plants and shrubs I can’t name perform for us in warm sunshine?

—     rock roses displaying their papery petals

—     hearing about the sex lives of different pine trees.

—     Caça Controlada, i.e. yet more “controlled hunting” space, hearing about Franco’s trophy hunter scheme, and reflecting on its legacy–to this day is this a threat to ecological sustainability in Spain’s “natural areas”?

—     rich earthy smells on narrow paths through low pine scrub–it rained plentifully the week before–this is where you could imagine the threat of fire exists after long hot dry spells.

—     multifarious birdsong just about everywhere we walk.

—     a woodpecker drills for food–they’re indicators of forest health, explains Diana, although a handful of Asian and African species are known to have adapted to forest plantations.

—     forest in recovery, yet perceived by some as bosc brut (“dirty woodland? Scrubby, perhaps?) who perhaps don’t understand or don’t value the processes of succession.

—     more honeysuckle–it’s been in abundance–sweet droplets within

—     Evarist identifies an orchid, Limodorum abortivum, by the footpath not from the park’s exit.

—     legs good, but head weary–wear hat next time.

Some of the thoughts that we had shared among ourselves by the end of the day:

…Let’s hear less aprovechar (take advange of or make the most of in English) and more valorar (value or appreciate) in connection with the park.  In other words, let’s hear more about the luxury of having such a rich diversity of natural life on our doorstep, and less about it being problematic.

…Let’s encourage a considerate and better-informed approach to enjoying the park, so that the challenges to the area’s ecological integrity might be more easily overcome.

…And let’s do this again sometime, perhaps towards the end of a long summer evening when the “unseen” wildlife emerges.

Alex Florez posted some excellent photos of the day’s walk here.

Local nature guide, Lucy Brzoska, posts superb photos and blogs specifically on this natural area at IberiaNature.

You might also be interested to know that plans are being made to “bring the park closer” to its urban neighbours via 16 entry “gates”.

This day out follows on from “Talk Walking”, when responsible tourism advocates and practitioners from the ICRT and other organisations gathered in Barcelona to talk urban tourism, heritage and managing better places for people to live in and visit.

ROBIN BARDEN

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6th International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations (RTD6)

São Paulo, Brazil, 18-20 June 2012 sees the International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations take place for the sixth time (follow #RTD6).

This conference is being held 20 years after the first Rio Earth Summit and 10 years after the Cape Town Declaration. It seeks to identify how best tourism can contribute to sustainable development.

Invitation to the conference

Register your interest to attend at: rtd6saopaulo@gmail.com

Follow events at the RTD6 conference website.

Keynote presentation:

Learning from 20 years of sustainable tourism rhetoric and practice

By Eugenio Yunis, Executive Vice President of FEDETUR Chile, and former Director of Sustainable tourism development at the World Tourism Organization (1997-2007) and Director General of the Work Programme at the World Tourism Organization (2007-2010).

Early confirmed speakers include:

Mariana Aldrigui – GTTP, Brazil; Dr. Susanne Becken, Griffith University, Australia; Beth Beloff, BRIDGES to Sustainability Institute and Beyond the Divide, US; Flávia Costa, Serviço Social do Comércio, Brazil, Dr. Helena Costa, University of Brasília, Brazil; Dr. Xavier Font, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK; Alexandre Garrido, Sexante, Brazil; Dr. Sonya Graci, Ryerson University, Canada; Oliver Hillel, Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada; Wael Al Lawati, Omran, Oman; Matthias Leisinger, Kuoni, Switzerland; Klaus Lengefeld, GIZ, Germany; Geoffrey Lipman, greenearth.travel, UK; Anne-Maria Mäkelä, Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, Finland; Roberto Mourão, EcoBrasil; Dr. Vikneswaran Nair, Taylor’s University, Malaysia; Dr. Laszlo Puczko, Xellum, Hungary; Doris Ruschmann, Universidade do Vale do Itajaí, Brazil; Ronald Sanabria, Rainforest Alliance, Costa Rica; Deirdre Shurland, United Nations Environment Programme, France; Dr. Murray Simpson, Caribsave and Oxford University, Dr. Marcelo Vilela de Almeida, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil.

See the RTD6 speaker’s information page for updates.

Talking Responsible Tourism

28/02/2012 5 comments

Why the increasing talk about responsible tourism?

What is responsible tourism?  Is it an “eco-thing”?  Is it the same as sustainable tourism?  If so, why use a different name?

What are the principles of responsible tourism.  Can we go beyond these to create effective global templates for responsible tourism?

Can you distinguish greenwashing from greenhushing?

Is flying out of the question for the responsible tourist?

How does real responsible tourism change things in tourism?  How does it make a difference to people’s holidays and travel experiences?  And how does it make a difference to people’s lives in the places where tourism is conducted?

As part of a weekend event being organised by the Xarxa de Turisme Responsable in collaboration with the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT) there will be two opportunities to talk responsible tourism and develop answers to the questions posed above.  These are:

  • Friday 30th March, 17.30-20.00 — a “get to know responsible tourism” meeting involving members of the ICRT, the Xarxa de Turisme Responsable, tourism academics, consultants, change makers, and people working in the local tourism industry.
  • Sunday 1st April, 10.30-14.30 — a series of talks sharing knowledge and experience on responsible tourism, including a run down on ten years of progress in responsible tourism since the Cape Town declaration on responsible tourism in destinations by a world-renowned authority on responsible tourism, Prof. Harold Goodwin.

The venue for both these meetings is the café-cum-cultural centre, Valentina, in the heart of the Barri Gòtic (Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter) at Plaça Regomir, 2.

Sunday’s session includes coffee/refreshment during a break, plus a buffet lunch (for around €10).

Come to either or both of these sessions if

  • you want to find out more about what responsible tourism means internationally and locally.
  • you want to connect with people from other places already involved or with a strong interest in responsible tourism (we have people coming form Berlin, London, Viena, Copenhagen, Málaga and elsewhere).
  • you want to contribute to the debate and drive forward real responsible tourism change in a place that matters to you.

If you plan to come please let us know by sending a short email to Mariana at: marianaceleste@yahoo.com

Brotes verdes en Fitur 2012

Los días 18 a 22 de Enero se ha celebrado el Madrid la Feria Internacional de Turismo y la 4ª Jornada de Turismo Responsable (TR) de la misma. Esta edición de Fitur contó con más de 10.500 empresas expositoras de 166 países que se extienden en un espacio de 63.000 metros cuadrados. Fitur acogió a más de 200.000 visitantes con el objetivo de convertir el ocio en negocio y el negocio en desarrollo para los destinos que acogen a los millones de viajeros.

La Jornada de Turismo Responsable, organizada por Koan Consulting con la colaboración de ECOTUMISMO fue todo un éxito de asistencia, tanto que los últimos en llegar nos tuvimos que sentar en el suelo de una sala abarrotada. Esto indica el creciente interés del mercado y los profesionales del turismo por el concepto de TR, y esto ya es una buena noticia por sí sola.

La ponencia arrolladora de Margaret Hart Robertson, Directora del Doctorado de Turismo Integral, Interculturalidad y Desarrollo Sostenible en la ULPGC, fue realmente una fuente de inspiración para todos, con una increíble energía positiva explicó que ha trabajado extensamente en la formación de formadores para el turismo responsable en América Latina pero, sobre todo, en Ecuador y Brasil, además de colaborar en proyectos de capacitación de la mujer en África.

Sobre todo cabe destacar el análisis tan positivo que hace la Sra. Hart sobre el gran potencial del turismo comunitario responsable, presentó una visión muy optimista con respecto al futuro del TR en España y piensa que las conciencias sobre cuidar nuestro legado (natural, social y cultural) ya se están despertando.

Lo más destacable y nuevo de la jornada fue la sesión de networking posterior a las ponencias. Fue una sesión muy dinámica, libre y positiva, dónde más de 140 personas de todos los niveles académicos y profesionales intercambiaron experiencias e iniciativas de turismo responsable en un ambiente inspirador.

Puedes descargarte las ponencias, a través de estos 3 links:

www.koanconsulting.com/pdfs/panel/presentacioncetr.pdf

www.koanconsulting.com/pdfs/panel/presentacionmargaret.pdf

www.koanconsulting.com/pdfs/panel/presentacionturinea.pdf

FiturGreen, organizado por El Instituto Tecnológico Hotelero (ITH), en colaboración con el Patronato de Turismo de Madrid y FITUR, y que comprende una serie de conferencias en torno a la gestión energética hotelera y un área expositiva para los proveedores de estas tecnologías, ha resultado igualmente enriquecedor.

Su objetivo:

La crisis mundial que, unida a la sobreoferta del sector turístico en un mercado maduro como es el español, ha obligado a las empresas a apostar por la innovación y la tecnología como herramienta fundamental para la diferenciación de sus competidores.

Es necesario incentivar al sector hotelero español en la aplicación de medidas encaminadas a optimizar la gestión energética y del agua en sus instalaciones, implantando criterios de eficiencia energética más favorables para el medio ambiente.
El objetivo de FiturGreen es lograr que las empresas tomen conciencia de la necesidad de aportar valor añadido a sus clientes, de diferenciarse de la competencia, asumiendo la sostenibilidad y la eficiencia energética con una visión de negocio.

Mesa redonda: El futuro del Turismo Mediterráneo, variables ambientales, sociales y económicas.

Organizada por Casa mediterráneo, Institución para el conocimiento mutuo entre España y los países mediterráneos con la misión de dar a conocer la situación del turismo sostenible (TS) en la región mediterránea, así como fomentar el intercambio de experiencias y buenas prácticas, ligado al desarrollo de una buena gobernanza y cooperación entre los diferentes agentes turísticos.

Intervino Mohamed Berriane, profesor de la Facultad de Artes y Humanidades de la Universidad Mohammed V-Agdal de Rabat, que explicó cómo el turismo es una actividad muy sensible a los cambios (sociales, económicos y medioambientales) y la importancia de la colaboración de las comunidades locales en la adaptación a esos cambios.

Por su parte Loïc Bours, director del programa de Turismo de Plan Bleu, mencionó la desigualdad de género que aún existe para acceder al mercado de trabajo en los países del mediterráneo, aunque las mujeres, en muchos casos, tengan mejor formación que sus colegas masculinos.

Javier Gómez-Limón, responsable de Proyectos de Turismo y Uso Público en Espacios Protegidos de la Federación EUROPARC, puso de manifiesto la importancia de la conservación de los espacios naturales protegidos (ENP) para el desarrollo sostenible (económico y social), convirtiendo estos espacios en un activo turístico sostenible.

Es la primera vez que asisto al Fitur y me ha dejado con muy buenas sensaciones y energías positivas sobre el futuro del TR, hay mucho trabajo que hacer, pero ya estamos en el camino correcto.

Mariana Quiroz

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.

Note:

“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.”

Similarly:

“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!

Hence:

“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.

ROBIN BARDEN

Symposium on Tourism, Local Economic Development and Poverty Reduction

The Gambia has been an important laboratory for Responsible Tourism over the last 15 years. This symposium, or high level workshop, run by ICRT West Africa and The University of The Gambia, will bring together policy makers, development partners, practitioners and academics to share what has been learnt in the country, particularly with regards to using tourism to benefit local communities.

The symposium will place under the microscope:

  1. Initiatives to benefit craft worker-sellers and self-employed guides
  2. Agricultural supply chain linkages and the Gambia is Good (GiG) initiative
  3. Cultural heritage activities and festivals
  4. ASSET–a trade association for small scale enterprises in tourism
  5. Interventions to reduce hassle and increase earnings in craft markets (Senegambia and Kotu) and villages (Jufureh)
  6. Building multi-stakeholder partnerships: The Responsible Tourism Partnership

Adama Bah of ICRT West Africa invites you to come to The Gambia and participate in the symposium, which will take place the 18-22nd April 2012.

See the ArtyForum for more details.