Delegates attending the opening of WTM World Responsible Tourism Day were told that governments need to do more to help the travel and tourism industry maximise its power to help the poorest people on the planet.
Fiona Jeffery, Reed Travel Exhibitions Director World Travel Market, told the 500 senior travel executives attending the Official Opening: “Travel and tourism, supported by governments, must strengthen their efforts; more need to actively get involved, not just pay lip service to something which is now deemed fashionable.”
But she also acknowledged that “companies need to balance profit against the values and principles of prudent corporate social responsibility”.
Malnutrition, poverty and a lack of clean drinking water form a vicious circle, in which children who survive their early years are denied the chance to educate themselves out of deprivation as a result of continued poverty and family needs.
“The industry is perhaps better placed than most to make a vital contribution in the fight against these complex issues,” Jeffery said.
The discussions scheduled for WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Day’s programme across three days would touch on “painful stuff” and that there was “no place for the niceties of life, for patting ourselves on the back.”
The keynote speaker is Leo Hickman, author of ‘The Final Call,’ a controversial book which is critical of the global travel and tourism industry’s social, economic and environental footprint.
“There is some good that comes out of tourism, but what I discovered is that this ‘good’ is sadly a rare commodity”, explained Hickman. “Tourism is a very lop-sided deal in its current form whereby the buyers— the tourists—get by far a better deal than the sellers—the people living in the destinations.”
Jeffery concluded: “Travel and tourism needs to face up to enormous challenges, and that means taking our responsibilities seriously as well as focusing on building successful businesses.”