World Travel Market London 2016 will commemorate two key responsible tourism anniversaries: 20 years of responsible tourism and 10 years of World Responsible Tourism Days.
The South African Government’s 1996 white paper, The Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa, is widely heralded as the start of responsible tourism. The white paper looked at how the post-apartheid South Africa could benefit from tourism and proposed responsible tourism as the key guiding principle to build the sector. The paper put responsible and sustainable tourism at the centre of its overall strategy, making sure both the country’s natural resources are protected and not over exploited or over commercialised, while also making sure that all its citizens benefit from an increase in tourists. It also put an emphasis on tourists to respect the environment and culture of the country.
In 2007 WTM London rebranded its Environmental Awareness Day to World Responsible Tourism Day, broadening the agenda of the day’s programme. WRTD, which will take place this year on Tuesday 8th November, is now the largest day of responsible tourism action in the world. Nearly 2,000 delegates attend the responsible tourism programme at WTM London, organised by Manchester University Responsible Tourism Professor Harold Goodwin.
This year’s programme will explore how well the travel industry has embraced responsible tourism, celebrate best practice and ask if responsible tourism has come of age after 20 years, while also attempting to predict what the industry will look like in 2036.
Harold Goodwin said: “I have been working in the field of responsible tourism for the past two decades and have seen great changes in the way the industry has embraced and adopted responsible travel practices.
“Since 2007 WTM London has been the event where the industry has discussed, debated and promoted responsible tourism. This year’s programme will debate if enough progress has been made in responsible tourism and ask what more can be done.”
WTM London is the event where the travel and tourism industry conducts its business deals. Buyers from the WTM Buyers Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of €18.8 billion (£15.8bn) and sign deals at the event worth €3.0 billion (£2.5bn).
WTM London 2016 will be revamped as a three-day event from Monday 7th – Wednesday 9th November, with opening hours extended from 10.00am – 7.00pm for all three days.