Guest blog: Responsible Tourism Matters – nominate examples of good practice.

Guest blog by Harold Goodwin is a Professor Emeritus and  Responsible Tourism Director at the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and adviser to the World Travel Market on its Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London

President Biden has pointed out that we are now in the critical decade for change. We face series of global challenges, climate change, biodiversity extinction and mounting inequality. There are many issues that need to be addressed. Tourism lauds itself as 10% of the pre-pandemic global economy, although as the World Travel & Tourism Council reports, it shrank to 5.5% last year.

The travel and tourism industry needs to change to become sustainable; it is far from it. For real progress to be made, regulation is required. Across all economic sectors, enlightened business leaders recognise that regulation is necessary to avoid progressive companies being undercut by the laggards and the unscrupulous. For the tourism sector, where the core product is the public realm, open-access public goods are easily degraded by over visiting. Overtourism has emerged as a major issue over the last five years in destinations worldwide, evidence of the limits to growth.

Responsible Tourism is about using tourism rather than being used by it. The movement was launched in Cape Town at a side event to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Thanks, Felix, for making that possible. Responsible Tourism is about “take responsibility for achieving sustainable tourism, and to create better places for people to live in and for people to visit.” Critically in that order, we take our holidays in other people’s homes.

Each year since 2004, we have challenged businesses and destinations to share the ways in which they have taken responsibility through the Responsible Tourism Awards started by Responsible Travel and now run by WTM, London. It is a privilege to chair the judges of these awards since 2004 and to grow them to four regional awards for Africa, India, Latin America and the Rest of the World.

We explain the judges’ reasons for their decisions; there are always specific reasons why particular businesses and destinations are singled out to be recognised. We organise the Awards for three reasons, to

·       recognise, promote and celebrate those are making tourism better

·       demonstrate that there are businesses and destinations which are taking responsibility and showcase good case practices.

·       challenge the laggards to take responsibility and to ask why, if others are taking responsibility and thriving, what aren’t they? 

One of our challenges is “tall poppy syndrome”, which takes three forms. Some businesses and destinations do not think they are doing enouth to apply they do not see themselves as tall enough. Others fear that if they stand out, they risk being cut down to size, although we know of no occurrence of this.  Yet others regard it is improper to seek recognition for only doing what is right, some have strong religious and moral reservations about “bragging”. 

“Tall poppy syndrome” is frustrating because we need businesses and destinations to talk about what they are doing and its impact so that we can challenge others to do more.

The categories change each year the 2021 categories are here

We are now just over one month from the closing of this year’s WTM Responsible Tourism Awards, which for the first time, have become Global Awards. Details of the categories can be found here, along with three videos with previous winners explaining why they apply and why the Responsible Tourism awards are important to them.

Please would you assist us in spreading the word about the Responsible Tourism Awards? There may be businesses or destinations that you would like to nominate and encourage to apply. Entries and nominations for the  WTM Global Responsible Tourism Awards  are now open, and this time they’re global.

We have made it easier to nominate businesses and destinations you think should apply.

Nominate others and apply here





  1. Harold at SUNx Malta we support your vision and dedication to the redponsible tourism cause. We will promote your awards tjrough our networks. Your impressive lists past winners will hopefully also embrace our vision of Climate Friendly Travel ~ low carbon: SDG linked: Paris1.5. And can become beacons in the urgent need to build Climate Resilience NOW. This is the eXistential threat


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