Tourism for Tomorrow Newsletter May 2017

Winners 2017

2017 Tourism for Tomorrow Award winners announced at WTTC Global Summit

The winners of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards for 2017 were announced at the end of April at WTTC’s

 Global summit, which took place this year in Bangkok. 

The 2017 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards winners are:

Community Award – Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya 
Destination Award – Chobe, Makgadikgadi, and Okavango delta Ramsar site, Botswana Tourism Organisation, Botswana 
Environment Award – Misool, Indonesia 
Innovation Award – Mapping Ocean Wealth, The Nature Conservancy, USA 
People Award – The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation’s China Hospitality Education Initiative (CHEI), China

“The Travel & Tourism sector is growing fast, and we have to ensure that this growth does not see short-term gains prioritised over the longer-term health of local environments and communities,” said David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC. “This year’s Award Winners demonstrate not only that tourism can be sustainable, but that it can bring tangible improvements to both the environmental and cultural surroundings in which it operates. We will see the Travel & Tourism sector driving forward to ensure a more sustainable world.”
Next year’s WTTC Global Summit takes place in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 18-19th April 2018. For more information on the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and all the winners, please visit





CITES head calls on travel Sector to do more to combat poaching

John S.


“The very assets that underpin wildlife based tourism – the wildlife itself – are under severe threat,’ warned CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon, in his keynote speech at the 17th WTTC Global Summit.

Speaking to a room filled with many of the most powerful men and women in the sector, he laid out the reasons why the sector has to take much greater responsibility for protecting wildlife. “The reality is that you are not a fringe player in this fight,” he said, “you are right at the center of it, you are there on the front line of this fight along with the customs and rangers and inspectors. How you engage with your staff, your customers and local communities, and where and how you choose to invest, can change the trajectory of the survival of our wildlife like no one else can – and you will be protecting the natural assets that underpin wildlife based tourism. You can be a key reason why we turn around the wildlife extinction crisis.
“You have the power to lift local people out of poverty in a manner that will be mutually beneficial and self-sustaining – whereas poaching only puts them into a poverty spiral,” he added. “Or you can choose not to engage with local communities and to invest in a manner that sees all of the profits go off shore – in which case you are no better than the poachers and the smugglers.”

Watch the entire speech here 




WTTC launches ‘Is it too much to ask?’ campaigntmtamstr

WTTC has launched a new campaign “Is it too much to ask?”, calling on travellers around the world to commit to a series of pledges to be more responsible travellers. Opening with the stark line, “Remember, silence is consent”, the new website tells travellers to believe they have power to make change, declaring: “The travel industry caters to travellers’ needs and demands. So demand sustainability. Demand sustainable, responsible, and ethical practice. Demand that sustainability be made an option.” Individuals can then commit to a series of pledges - and propose their own - that focus on both individual actions, and efforts to make the industry take greater responsibility.
“Is it Too Much to Ask?” was also the opening line of the speech made by WTTC’s departing President & CEO, David Scowsill at the recent WTTC Global Summit in Bangkok. Scowsill urged over 900 leading figures from the public and private sector to stand up and make a real difference, to think about how they might use tourism ‘Transforming our World’. 
“We are now seeing the recalibration of global politics, it is becoming clearer that the economic growth we have enjoyed over the past half century, and the globalization that has driven it, is not working for everyone,” Scowsill said. “Governments are calling into question some of the basic freedoms of people movement and trade, upon which all our businesses so depend.”
He also asserted tourism’s role in responding to many of the pressures societies increasingly face. “The fear engendered by dividing us into races or religions destroys the notion that each human being is unique,” he added. “I believe wholeheartedly that closed borders lead to closed minds; that travel makes the world a better, more peaceful place, and that human encounters across cultures change us for the better. Travel is not for a privileged few. The world and its astonishing beauties are for everyone. We believe in the fundamental right of anyone to travel, regardless of their nationality, gender, religion, sexual orientation or age. Our sector must be accessible to all.” 

Please sign the pledges in the Is it Too Much to Ask campaign. David Scowsill’s speech, along with full video recordings of the entire summit, can be viewed here.



What can tourism do to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5 - Gender Equality?SDGs

Women make up more than half the tourism sector. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), they represent approximately 55.5 percent of the sector globally, and considerably more in some regions.  In Thailand for example, women account for 65 percent of the workforce. In Peru, it rises to 76.3 percent. And in Lithuania it’s a staggering 85.6 percent.
With such ratios, we might assume that tourism had already achieved goal 5 of the SDGs, namely ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’. However, what matters as much as the quantity employed is the quality of the employment, and here the industry still has considerable room to progress. More than half the tourism workforce may be women, but the higher up one gets, the balance rapidly shifts. Less than 10% of the world’s hotels are owned by women, who also make up less than 10% of the corporate boards in hospitality companies. And according to a Global Report on Women in Tourism by UNWTO, only one in five tourism ministers in the world is a woman. 
This isn’t to say that there aren’t considerable efforts being made around the sector by companies big and small. Marriott was recently recognised as one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Women. Last year Airbnb partnered with the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA) to work with SEWA members to enable them to share their homes with Airbnb’s community of international and domestic guests. Meanwhile, Village Ways, which works to develop sustainable tourism in rural communities in India, Nepal and Ethiopia insists that at least two members of each village committee the company deals with must be women, and women are trained as tour guides. And at Botswana’s Chobe Game Lodge the 14 strong team of women make up the first all-female guiding team in Africa. 
Examples of such initiatives can be found worldwide. Equality in Tourism works across the world providing gender specialist advice, capacity building and innovation through a network of experts. Engage us to facilitate gender equality in tourism. And the Gender Responsible Tourism Association published a Women Ways Road Atlas Map featuring tourism projects run by women around the world.
These are all exceptional initiatives, and deserve to be commended as such. However, as the 2030 Agenda states: “The achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities”. In other words, Goal 5 will be achieved when such projects are no longer no longer exceptional, but the norm. 




Accessible tourism interview - Planet Abled

Neha Arora

Earlier this year Planet Abled won the innovation award and was declared the joint overall winner in the inaugural Indian Responsible Tourism Awards. WTTC speaks to its founder, Neha Arora, about her vision for the company, which provides accessible travel solutions and leisure excursions for people with different disabilities.

WTTC: What inspired you to set up Planet Abled?

Neha Arora: My personal not so good travel experiences as a daughter of parents with disabilities led to the inception of Planet Abled. My father is blind and mother is a wheelchair user, but we all are fond of traveling. We would face a lot of issues in terms of accessibility and the kind of leisure activities available when we travelled. There were often instances when we travelled 2000 miles only to discover that the place is not accessible or does not offer the kind of experience my father would have enjoyed. And of course insensitivity and sympathy of society often presented barriers.
There came a point nearly four years back when our parents stopped travelling, giving the reason that it is a lot of hassle for us and we are not able to enjoy. They asked us to travel without them. This hit me really hard.
I wondered that if we are facing this issue, others might also be feeling the same. When I looked for solutions there was none. I could not have waited till eternity for someone to come out and solve a herculean problem that existed.
The moment this struck, each day at the job became difficult, despite the fact that you had to take care of the bills which the cushy job helped. But it was a huge task with no set models. I did my homework and research for nearly two years before finally taking the plunge and left the job at Adobe to work on Planet Abled full time.

WTTC: What are you hoping to achieve with Planet Abled?

Neha: We work with the concept of “Universal Design”, focusing on giving people with different disabilities and non-disabled, a platform to come together, so as to create an inclusive group for a unique human interaction. Most of the time a person with disability remains in their own group of same disability friends or with their family or friends. No such travel service existed in the world where you have a deaf person travelling with a blind person or a wheelchair user or with a co traveller without a disability. Planet Abled was then launched as the first company in the world which broke those barriers and brought everyone together for an absolute social inclusion.
In a typical Indian scenario, most people without disabilities have never ever interacted closely with a person with a disability. So they have no idea as to what challenges they face or what capabilities they have, which apparently is the biggest hurdle in India becoming an accessible country. 
Planet Abled is an egalitarian platform where everyone travels together where you have a deaf person travelling with a blind person or a wheelchair user or with a co traveller without a disability. We customise the activities and excursions for each disability such that no one is left out to experience anything.  So everything on the tour is designed based on the Universal Design Principle and everything is accessible to everyone.
Our vision is to have an inclusive society where everyone is an equal and there is no discrimination on the basis of a disability one might have. Where everyone travels together, whether or not they have a disability. All travel should be inclusive and accessible.

WTTC: How does your Universal Design approach work? 

Neha: Each person has their own specific preferences and needs. If they are alone and want to travel with a group, if they want to travel solo, if they want to travel with their family/kids/parents/partner/friends or if they want to go on a honeymoon after their wedding, the possibilities are endless.
 Also, for a person with a disability or the family/friends of someone who is, travelling to unknown territories pops up a lot of questions in their mind. Inaccessibility, lack of basic amenities and lack of awareness and sensitization are just some of the barriers they might face.
With Planet Abled we want to give people with disabilities the freedom to travel no matter what their disability is! Whether they want to experience a small facet of the city they are in or they want to travel across multiple cities of varied interests, Planet Abled has something unique, safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Planet Abled’s mission is to make people with disabilities overcome their limitations and get into mainstream leisure and travel, leaving behind social inhibitions and apprehensions about their abilities, We believe in the concept of “Everything is For everyone” and just plug in the support gaps a person with disability would need to have a wholesome experience. We totally consider them as regular travellers providing facilities and support wherever required.

Find out more about Planet Abled here.



National Geographic publishes first Sustainable Tourism Impact Report

National Geographic has released the first Sustainable Tourism Impact Report, compiled using data from member lodges of its National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World programme. It reveals some impressive statistics, such as in the two years since the programme was launched, these members have rehabilitated and protected over 3.7 million acres of land and sea; given over $76 million in direct contributions to historic and cultural site preservation; and diverted over 1.4 million kilos of waste from landfills around the world.
Many of the lodges also epitomise what it means to be embedded in their local communities, with 76% reporting that at least 70% of their staff from local communities. “When travel is done the right way—the sustainable way—then local people and visitors alike benefit from the power and promise of travel to alleviate poverty, protect nature, and safeguard cultural heritage for future generations,” said National Geographic’s Costas Christ, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Tourism.






Theme for International Day for Biological Diversity to be ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism’


The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has declared that ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism’ is the theme for the International Day for Biological Diversity, which takes places later this month, on 22 May. 

According to the CBD, tourism relates to many of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which are its global targets for 2020. For some of these targets the focus is on ensuring greater control and management to reduce damage to biodiversity from tourism. For others, it is about promoting the positive contribution of tourism to biodiversity awareness, protected areas, habitat restoration, community engagement, and resource mobilisation. 
This recognition by the CBD is the latest acknowledgement of the potential contribution of tourism to conservation by the international community. Last December, the Cancun Declaration on Mainstreaming the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity for Wellbeing, stated that “tourism is an excellent vehicle to use in spreading environmental awareness worldwide, not to mention the livelihood support it provides for communities living in and around reserves and natural areas".







Survey urges tourists to avoid souvenirs that put endangered turtles at risk 

Too Rare To Wear has published a new report into souvenirs made from endangered turtles. For the report - Endangered Souvenirs - the group and its partners investigated 200 souvenir shops across 50 tourist spots in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Belize, Nicaragua, Cuba, Grenada, and Colombia. It found products with a total value of more than US $50,000, ranging from $1 bracelets and rings to a $200 comb for sale in Havana, Cuba.
Nicaragua had by far the largest numbers for sale with more than 7,000 items counted and roughly 70 percent of shops found selling them, particularly in markets in Masaya and Managua. Other hotspots for turtleshell sales included Cartagena (Colombia), Puntarenas (Costa Rica), San Salvador (El Salvador), and Havana (Cuba). 
“Our research will help inspire tourists traveling to the Caribbean and Latin America to be part of the solution by helping them to purchase wisely,” said Brad Nahill, President and Co-Founder of SEE Turtles and director of Too Rare To Wear, and a co-author on the report. 
The study also found that North Americans and Europeans were the main buyers, with cruise ship passengers in particular identified by vendors as primary consumers in several places, including Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Grenada, and Honduras, despite the fact that the international trade is illegal under CITES (the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species)
Hawksbills play a little appreciated but vital role in protecting coral reefs, which themselves are a major driver of tourism in many regions. By consuming a diet that consists largely of certain species of sponges, they play an important role in the reef ecosystem by keeping sponge populations in check, which allows other species to occupy space on the reef and increases biodiversity. Without hawksbills, sponges can overgrow and crowd out vital reef-building corals. It’s estimated that one turtle can consume over 1,000 pounds of sponges per year.

The full report can be downloaded from 






Written and edited by Jeremy Smith

Tourism for Tomorrow in the news : A selection of news articles from last month