I have been going to the World Travel Market since 2007, and this year’s WTM, in my opinion, is going to be the most interesting yet, and the event that I have always looked forward to the most is the World Responsible Tourism Day.
The difference from 5 years ago is noticeable. The awards event, on the Wednesday, has blossomed into a glamorous display of candid debates, exciting nominations and inspirational stories. The competition has grown in leaps and bounds, the judges have become fiercer in their criteria, and most importantly, the notion of responsible tourism is spreading across the industry.
The atmosphere in the World Travel Market always feels more positive on that day. The buzz of the tourism entrepreneurs talking about their recent projects, their new environmentally friendly schemes, their community engagement achievements, or the new experiential activities they have launched, creates a permeating aura of progress and positivity, especially at the RT networking event.
Clients and customers meet to discuss future plans, connections are made, friendships developed, ideas discussed, and thoughts shared. It is, from experience, one of the most interesting and useful events of the whole tourism calendar in the year. No wonder why responsible tourism has become the talk of the whole WTM.
Having looked at this year’s schedule, responsible tourism workshops and talks have sprouted all over the 4 day travel industry bonanza, rather than just on the World Responsible Tourism Day. Apart from the RT awards, I shall be attending as many workshops as possible, including ‘Maximising Local Economic Development’, ‘Responsible Volunteering’, and ‘Activity Tourism’. Another opportunity not to be missed for someone wanting to expand their knowledge on the subject is the ‘Speakers Corner’ event that will allow people to share their ideas, frustrations and thoughts about how the tourism industry should be more responsible.
Wanting to play my part in the debate, I took the opportunity to voice my interest, and was nominated as one of the speakers to talk about a topic of my choice. I shall be talking about the responsibility that international consultants have when working with developing countries to implement tourism products. If you feel inclined to partake in the debate, come and join me at 12pm on the Wednesday. (Location: AS275 - South Hall and UKI230 - North Hall)
The World Responsible Tourism Day is a day of celebration for what has been achieved, of reflection for what is left to be achieved, and a coming together of like-minded people who want to make the travel industry more responsible, sustainable and socially aware. An industry in which tourism is not only seen to be an opportunity to discover the beautiful world we live in through more experiential and authentic travel experiences, but can also be used as a tool to make destinations better places to live, and better places to visit.
So join me, and many others, on Wednesday 7th November to experience the future of the travel industry, at the World Responsible Tourism Day 2012 (www.wtmwrtd.com).