The global industry’s leading responsible tourism awards will mark sustainability’s move into the mainstream this year, says the UK academic who heads the judging panel.
Professor Graham Miller of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey leads the judges of the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in their on-site inspections of the 15 finalists this month.
Miller said: “It’s great this year to see everything from a chain hotel like Confortel to huge companies like TripAdvisor.
“In earlier years there was probably more representation from what people typically associate with responsible tourism – higher end, boutique properties.
“This type of tourism is essential because it shows that sustainable options aren’t necessarily about sacrifice.
“But if sustainability didn’t cross into the mainstream, it would be much harder to say this is a movement with mass appeal and mass impact. People could say it was just window dressing.”
Abta is among the 15 finalists, with its Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism selected for the Tourism for Tomorrow Innovation Award.
Tripadvisor’s GreenLeaders programme in the US has been nominated in the same category.
Speaking in the latest Tourism for Tomorrow newsletter, Miller said: “The scale of ambition is apparent in programmes like the Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP).
“Multinational corporations like American Express and Starwood have spent years developing a programme that gets little publicity but has a huge and lasting impact on the tourism industry.”
He said: “Across the board we saw entrants who were utterly committed and sweated blood to deliver sustainable operations.
“What set the finalists above the rest is that they really know the impact they are having. They could say: ‘Last year Co2 emissions were x. This year they were y.’”
Miller added: “It’s inspiring to see that what was innovative five years ago, such as banning bottled water, is now often standard.”
The Tourism for Tomorrow Awards winners will be announced at the WTTC Global Summit in Madrid in April.
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