Responsible Tourism at WTM London 2017

Responsible Tourism at WTM London 2017

2017 sees the biggest, most open responsible tourism programme ever at WTM London, including World Responsible Tourism Day – the largest day of responsible tourism action in the world – which will take place on Wednesday 8th November, with the Responsible Tourism Theatre to be found at AF590.

This year sees big developments in WTM’s Responsible Tourism programme, as it seeks to build on its ever-growing popularity and increase its profile among its mainstream audience. For the first time, almost all of the sessions will take place in the main halls, with the introduction of a dedicated WTM Responsible Tourism Theatre on the exhibition floor, hosting an array of sessions.

The effects of so-called ‘Overtourism’ has been getting a lot of media coverage in 2017. The new theatre will host a panel exploring how destinations ranging from Barcelona to Seoul are addressing the impact of overtourism, as well as a dedicated session looking at the issue in the remote Scottish islands of Orkney and Arran. With further discussions on both China and Carbon taking place on Monday, this year’s programme will explore the challenges of managing the effects of more and more people becoming tourists and their impacts on the places in unparalleled depth.

With 2017 being the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, it is fitting that this year WTM London plays host to more responsible tourism sessions than ever before, with almost 30 panels taking place across the three days. As well as Overtourism, 2017 will also look at other topics currently getting a lot of attention, such as what the industry can do to fight plastic pollution and protect its oceans; how it can fight trafficking in its supply chain; and animal welfare. In addition, there will be a special focus on how the Indian state of Kerala is integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its tourism development model.

With so much going on, there is also scope for looking at emerging issues, such as how to deliver slum tourism responsibly; rethinking certification; and the inspiring story of a remarkable project in Bwindi, Uganda.

WTM London is also keen to engage as many people as possible in delivering a series of sessions that explore the challenges people meet in their business. Therefore it has just launched a survey, asking people what they consider to be the biggest issues facing tourism.

One session that will not be happening in the Responsible Tourism Theatre is the annual Responsible Tourism Awards, which as always will be held in the main theatre.

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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, copywriter, editor and proofreader for 50 years, and News & Features Editor for ‘Irish Travel Trade News’ for the past 40 years.

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