The ITB Responsible Tourism track at the ITB Berlin Convention features climate change action, resilience and regeneration as key topics. BTN’s Sion Rapson looks at the events taking place at this year’s event.
Socially responsible tourism has long been on the agenda of the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show. This year’s ITB Berlin, which is taking place from 7 to 9 March 2023, is again raising awareness for social responsibility in tourism with a wide range of panel discussions, seminars and lectures. The ITB Responsible Tourism track at the ITB Berlin Convention (until 2020 the CSR Day) and the 18th Green Business Forum for Tourism Professionals (known until 2020 as the Pow-Wow for Tourism Professionals) are a significant part of this. As well as the Responsible Tourism track, the Sustainable Destination track and Diversity & Inclusion Track will also feature experts and representatives of selected exhibitors talking about socially responsible tourism, equal rights, diversity, inclusion and sustainable tourism development.
At ITB Berlin, responsible tourism stands for environmentally and socially responsible tourism around the world. Hall 4.1 is where traditionally numerous exhibitors with a strong commitment to socially responsible tourism are gathered. Thus, there will again be a combined stand with Tourism Watch, the Roundtable on Human Rights in Tourism, ECPAT Germany, The Code and Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung, together with the stands of the Import Promotion Desk (IPD), the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and UNESCO. In Hall 4.1, exhibitors with a focus on environmentally responsible tourism will include My Climate, Atmosfair and Forum Anders Reisen. From 7 to 9 March on the ITB Lighthouse Stage in Hall 4.1, the focus will be on the 18th Green Business Forum for Tourism Professionals. Exhibitors in Hall 4.1 and leading international experts representing every tourism market, business and science will discuss topics including overtourism, marine protection and pollution, regional foods in hotels and restaurants, biodiversity, alternative mobility and cycle tourism. On Thursday, the last Day of ITB Berlin, the popular on-stage ITB Responsible Tourism Network Event will be taking place again. This is co-organised by ITB Berlin and its longtime Responsible Tourism partner The Blue Yonder.
Focus on the future at the Responsible Tourism track on Thursday, 9 March
On Thursday, 9 March, the Responsible Tourism Track with climate change action, resilience and regeneration as its key topics will again be an unmissable event at the ITB Berlin Convention. At the Responsible Tourism track on the Orange Stage in Hall 7.1a an interim assessment will be given on the Agenda 2030 with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. How the tourism industry can live up to its promises on the environment while becoming a more equitable sector will be the subject of debates, scientific reports and critical panel discussions, with best practices provided as evidence. At 2 p.m. the topics of climate change, rising sea levels and resilience will be addressed in a speech by Abdulla Mausoom, tourism minister of the Maldives, followed by a session on practical problem-solving with regard to tourism.
At 4 p.m. at the session entitled ’Shaping a just and equitable industry transformation’, the focus will be on employment conditions in tourism. Following a keynote speech by Dirk Meyer, department head, Global Health, Economy, Trade and Rural Development at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the panel members Leila Ben-Gacem, social entrepreneur and founder of Blue Fish, Benjamin Owen, project manager, UNWTO, Anjana Raza, head of Social Sustainability, Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, and Merten Sievers, global coordinator, Value Chains and Entrepreneurship SME Unit, International Labour Organization (ILO), will discuss how to achieve sustainable jobs, a socially and ecologically responsible industrial transformation, climate adaptation and resilience against the backdrop of climate change and the impact of external shocks.
On Thursday, 9 March at 5.45 p.m., the Responsible Tourism track will conclude with an open reception on the Orange Stage in Hall 7.1a. As part of the industry dialogue entitled ’Tourism for Sustainable Development’, the Agency for Business and Economic Development, the cooperative network Business Scouts for Development and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) are extending an invitation to an open exchange with policymakers, representatives of the private sector and civic organisations.
Diversity & Inclusion track and Sustainable Destination track as platforms for discussing the development of sustainable destinations on Tuesday, 7 March
The ITB Diversity track sees itself as a discussion platform for raising awareness in order to make tourism more inclusive and fair and to ensure respect for human rights in tourism. Authentic speakers will report on activities setting examples around the world and in every tourism market. The programme will feature discussions on LGBTQ+ tourism, gender equality, inclusion, equal rights. the rights of indigenous peoples and on how war and geopolitical events impact tourism.
At the LGBTQ+ session entitled ’LQBTQ+ Tourism und Resilience’, an announcement will also be made on the winner of the ITB LGBTQ+ Pioneer Award. The session will begin at 12.10 p.m. on the Green Stage in Hall 3.1. On Thursday, 9 March at 7 p.m. at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, on the last day of ITB Berlin, the ITB Diversity Gala will take place for the first time in support of the IGLTA Foundation. During the event a silent auction will conclude in support of the foundation.
Destinations and companies need to invest in intelligent, sustainable development and place an emphasis on the quality of life of local communities and their supply chains. Destination development in the future must above all focus on resilience – at the Sustainable Destination track on Tuesday, 7 March, on the Green Stage in Hall 3.1, speakers championing ideas on this subject will present their views, implementation practices and applied sciences.
On Tuesday, 7 March from 2 to 2.45 p.m., in addition to the long-established TO DO! Award for socially responsible tourism, Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung will for the third time present the TO DO! Human Rights in Tourism Award on the Green Stage in Hall 3.1. ITB Berlin will also be on the jury. Studienkreis für Tourismus und Entwicklung has presented this award annually since 2017. It honours initiatives, projects and individuals for outstanding achievements in protecting and defending human rights principles throughout the entire tourism value chain.
Inspiring stories which show how destinations all over the world are trying to make tourism more resilient and sustainable by making a positive contribution to the local community and environment – these are being honoured by ITB Berlin. On Tuesday, 7 March, at 4.35 p.m. on the Green Stage in Hall 3.1, the Green Destinations Group will present the Green Destination Story Awards. The award recognises the most inspiring initiatives in six categories out of all the entries for the annual Green Destinations Top 100 Stories competition. At ITB Berlin three finalists per category will receive awards. The ceremony will also honour the winners of the ITB Earth Award and People’s Choice Award. The ITB Earth Award honours destinations displaying initiative and global leadership in the fight against climate change and environmental destruction and in support of sustainable tourism. At the presentation of the Green Destination Story Awards the destination voted for by the public will receive the People’s Choice Award. The complete stories of the nominated destinations can be found under nominated stories.
Full details of the programme of theme tracks can be found here: Responsible Tourism Track, Diversity & Inclusion Track, Sustainable Destination Track. https://www.itb.com/
Highlights marking International Women’s Day on 8 March
8 March, which is International Women’s Day and a public holiday in Berlin, will provide an opportunity for additional events on gender equality. On 7 March, the day before International Women’s Day, at the ITB Berlin Convention at the Diversity & Inclusion track on the Green Stage in Hall 3.1, a session will take place on gender equality. This will examine whether tourism can help further empower women around the world and drive emancipation, and to what extent gender equality can better assist fighting the climate crisis. On 8 March at midday at the hybrid studio in Hall 5.3, an event will take place with the winners of the International Social Entrepreneurship in Tourism Competition, which was co-founded by ITB Berlin. The number of entries is very high. On Wednesday, 8 March, from 3.30 to 4.15 p.m. at the hybrid studio, the presentation will take place of the fifth Celebrating Her Award, a collaboration between ITB Berlin and the Indian representatives of the International Institute for Peace in Tourism (IIPT), which honours women for their outstanding achievements in tourism. Images of previous years’ winners will be on display at a small exhibition in Hall 7.1. Afterwards, at 4.45 p.m., the presentation will take place for the first time of the Gender Equality Champion of the Year award held by the NGO Equality in Tourism, in cooperation with ITB Berlin. The first award of its kind in the tourism sector, it honours tourism organisations for their outstanding achievements in supporting gender equality. The idea is to celebrate successes, but also to drive improvements and encourage tourism companies to integrate gender equality in their policies and the day-to-day working environment. Last year, the organisation was itself the recipient of the Human Rights Award of the Studienkreis für Tourismus. The session and both awards ceremonies can also be followed live on ITBxplore.
Over the three days of ITB Berlin donations will be collected on the exhibition grounds for a welfare project chosen by this year’s host country Georgia. This year, donations will be going to support the Georgian Farmers‘ Association (GFA). This non-profit organisation was established in 2012 and currently numbers 4,000 farmers from all parts of Georgia.