Yes, I believe there is. And a lot more should be done to promote more ethical and sustainable forms of travel and tourism.
Ethical tourism is a type of tourism which benefits people and the environment in different destinations by, for example, offering a better income to families living in the area, and by sourcing products and services locally. All forms of tourism have the potential to be more ethical and sustainable by contributing to economic prosperity, social equality and environmental and cultural conservation.
"In the first nine months of 2016 alone, there were almost one billion international tourists globally – so implementing more ethical forms of travel and tourism is paramount."
Examples of collaborative approaches aimed at sustainable and ethical tourism include the recent adoption of an African Charter on Sustainable and Responsible Tourism during COP22 held in Marrakesh.
The concept needs to be more widely understood through initiatives aimed at education, awareness and simple information – and embedded in the practice of both consumers and providers of tourism. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reports that, in 2015, international tourism hit a record high and, in the first nine months of 2016 alone, there were almost one billion international tourists globally – so implementing more ethical forms of travel and tourism is paramount.
There are a number of organisations such as the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) who are increasingly promoting programmes, initiatives and awards for best practice that encourage more ethical and sustainable forms of tourism, but again it’s often hard to make sure those messages are passed on to consumers.
If you think of travel to developing country destinations, tourism is often promoted as a vehicle to environmental protection and community development, but travellers need to know how they can contribute to these as much as operators need to know the best way to be profitable in an ethical manner. Another very important question is how we influence, educate and train future generations of tourism providers and experts, so that they’re fully aware of how they can too contribute though their direct involvement in ethical tourism practices.
Our P2P International initiative at the University of Brighton, for example, focuses on how tourism can play a role in attaining sustainable development goals, in a more equitable way. How do we make sure that, when talking about the broader definition of ‘ethical travel and tourism’, the issues of economic viability, environmental sustainability and community development all come together?
Whether you’re talking about developed, developing or emerging destinations, we need to make sure not only that tourism is recognised as a key economic sector, but that issues of equity and social justice are carefully considered too.