Social justice and social sustainability of mega-event host communities

Earlier on this week I presented at the Tourism Hospitality & Events: Border Crossings & Inter-Connections Research Symposium, University of Sunderland.

If you’re interested in reading my conference abstract (on academia or ResearchGate) or would like to view my presentation (on SlideShare), you can find it in the links below:





Tourism and Events 2017 Conferences

A number of months have seemingly passed since my last entry, so apologies for the lack of updates. After some very inspiring and immensely rewarding sessions at the 2nd @TouRNet_WRDTC PhD Symposium (more info here, highly recommended for those undertaking a PhD in the tourism/events/hospitality fields!), I thought I would provide you with a brief snapshot of my work in progress. This will focus on my conference abstract acceptances for the 2017 summer season. I will be speaking at the following conferences:

Social justice and social sustainability of mega-event host communities. Tourism Hospitality & Events: Border Crossings & Inter-Connections Research Symposium. 24 May 2017, University of Sunderland, UK.

Social justice of mega-event and tourism host communities with Michael B. Duignan. Critical Tourism Studies Conference VII. 25-29 June 2017, Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Follow their Facebook page for further details.

Social justice of mega-event and tourism host communities with Michael B. Duignan. International Conference on Tourism, Ethics and Global Citizenship: Connecting the Dots. 3-6 July 2017, Apeldoorn, the Netherlands. Search the Twitter hashtag #ctd2017 for key conference announcements and further details.

Advancing sport mega-event research – five critical themes. Association for Events Management Education (AEME) 14th Annual Conference. 5-7 July 2017, Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK. Search the Twitter hashtag #AEME2017 for key conference announcements and further details.

Each of the conference abstracts will be posted on my academic and research profiles, namely academia and ResearchGate later on in the summer. Additionally, the conference presentations will be added to my SlideShare account.

PhD in Olympic Tourism and Event Impacts

I’m delighted to be starting a PhD in Olympic Tourism and Event Impacts shortly at Anglia Ruskin University.

I will be updating this blog with updates, insights from my research and the odd reflection throughout my PhD. You can also follow my Twitter page here.

Philanthropy is about giving ‘a hand up, rather than a handout’

David Krantz from the Centre for Responsible Travel (CREST) speaks with Seth Kirby about its Travellers’ Philanthropy programme – where tourism businesses and travellers are going to extraordinary lengths.

How would you define philanthropy?

When we refer to philanthropy, we’re really talking about giving back through time, talent or treasure. Time and talent refer to volunteering, which could be manual labour such as maintaining a nature trail in the case of time, or a voluntarily applying a developed skill in talent. Treasure could be cash donations to a charitable organisation or donated goods (used or new) to a charitable cause. With these forms of give-back, the idea is to improve the world around us.

What is Travellers’ Philanthropy and what does it mean for the global travel industry?

Travellers’ Philanthropy is tourism businesses and travellers making concrete contributions of time, talent and treasure to local projects beyond what is generated through the normal tourism business. This form of strategic giving has tremendous potential for the global travel industry. All over the world, travellers and travel companies are giving financial and material resources as well as volunteering time and expertise to further the wellbeing of local communities and conservation in travel destinations.

Travellers’ Philanthropy is not about collecting loose change for charities; rather, it is about integrating tourism company and visitor support for local communities into the core definition of responsible travel. Travelers’ philanthropy helps support and maintain the unique communities/environments travelers want to visit, which ensures their ability to remain and prosper into the future.

Where does CREST’s interest in philanthropy come from?

Our interest in philanthropy stems from our desire to use travel as a mechanism for stewardship of the Earth and its people, which is at the core of responsible travel. We’ve found that donations and volunteerism here and there at a travel destination do not create a reliable and sustainable form of support, as well-intentioned as they are. But there is a huge desire on the part of tourists to give back, so we’re trying to harness that good will and use it to drive change. In order for travel giving, in all forms, to have lasting impact, it must be strategic.

What challenges are you seeing in philanthropy?

We’re seeing increasing evidence that consumers want to give back. We also know from research for our recent publication, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics, 50% of global consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society, according to a 2013 Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility poll of more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries. This represents a 5% increase over a similar poll in 2011.

How can philanthropy add value to ecotourism or sustainable tourism?

Travellers’ Philanthropy is a value added for tourism businesses and their guests. When tourism businesses donate a portion of their profits, for example, they earn good will in the community.  Then when the business needs something in the future from those who live nearby, they are more likely to get a positive response. Community members are also more likely to warmly receive visiting guests from a company that gives back.

From the traveller perspective, it feels good to know that your holiday is about more than just taking for yourself. You’ve come a long way to enjoy a particular place on the planet, and making sure your holiday destination stays wonderful enriches your experience on this trip and the next.

When westerners go abroad, we’re likely to see things we may not be used to seeing at home, such as poverty, illiteracy, pollution, and environmental destruction.  This can elicit feelings of guilt, which one typically isn’t looking for on their next vacation. So having a structured way to ‘do something’ about what we see, makes us feel less like voyeurs and more like part of the solution.

How can tourists and tourism businesses get involved in Travellers’ Philanthropy?

Where and how to get started isn’t necessarily obvious. A good first step would be to contact us at the Centre for Responsible Travel, as we can advise tourism businesses (lodging providers, tour operators, restaurants, etc) on which steps to take first and how to move from there. Soon, we can add the business to our database of companies that are giving back and provide an online giving platform to collect and make secure donations that make a difference.

One first step we often recommend is to take a company policy decision to begin giving back. Start a small task force of staff members or assign one person who will be responsible for any Travellers’ Philanthropy initiatives, then give them the space and support from the top to begin working on it.  The annual or quarterly budget review can be a good time to start, as senior leadership might elect to dedicate a certain percentage of profits to a charitable organisation, or to match donations made by employees.

What are your predictions for the future of philanthropy?

CREST has seen strong growth in Travellers’ Philanthropy since we started looking at the issue over 10 years ago, and we see no reason why the growth shouldn’t continue or accelerate further. It has become both more widespread and more professional over the years, and we expect this to continue.

David Krantz is CREST’s programme director and facilitates a variety of the centre’s projects.

Photo: Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center – Costa Rica – Holbrook Travel

To view the original article please click here.

New tourism report: hotel workers plagued by low wages and long hours

How does the all inclusive hotel model in the tourism sector affect the rights of employees? This is the underlying question that a report launched last month by campaign group Tourism Concern sought to assess and ultimately shed light on.

The new research, supported by the International Federation of Trade Unions and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF), was undertaken in three destinations: Kenya (Mombassa), Tenerife and Barbados. It looked to investigate and address the impacts of all inclusive hotels on pay, working conditions and staff labour rights.

The study reveals that all inclusive hotels are unfavourable for most staff, with long working hours, limited opportunities and low wages. This is on top of other implications to do with seasonality, job security and fair treatment in the workplace.

However, signs of progress have been shown on the labour standards and employee engagement front since 2004, which can be attributed to deepened union representation and collective bargaining.

It was hoped that this study would illuminate the debate about employee rights, promote sustainable tourism and shape government policy for the future.

Host destination leakage and the role of tour operators feature as immensely important issues in the all inclusive hotel model. Tourism expenditure usually stays in the hands of the tour operator and hotels providers, and is consequently leaked out of the local economy and destination.

Evidence from this report sheds light on the employee labour rights movement, gives a more detailed outlook on the current state of labour rights and working conditions in the tourism market, and highlights the distinct lack of labour rights for workers in all inclusive hotels.

Photo: vitamindave via Flickr

To view the original article please click here.

VisitEngland: sustainability ‘secures a successful future’ for tourism

VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford speaks with Seth Kirby ahead of the eighth international Responsible Tourism in Destinations (RTD8) conference.

Taking place at Manchester Metropolitan University on April 3-5, the event coincides with both English Tourism Week – which is co-ordinated by VisitEngland – and Responsible Business Week.

Berresford describes the Manchester conference as “the showcase for responsible tourism”.

What does sustainable tourism mean to you?

Tourism should be sustainable across 360 degrees – social, economic and environmental. The right balance needs to be found and tourism must be interlinked with sustainability. In simple terms, sustainable tourism is ‘good’ or ‘better’ tourism.

What are the benefits of making the English tourism industry sustainable?

We will secure a successful future for our tourism sector – the businesses within it, the communities it serves and the visitors who enjoy it. In order to protect and celebrate tourism’s contribution to local economies, communities and businesses, we also need to recognise and minimise its impacts on the environment.

What role do you see sustainable tourism play in impacting the future of our destinations?

Sustainable tourism should be woven into destination management plans. Destination planning for local areas needs to be embedded to protect and celebrate local visitor economies. Good destination management is all about sustainable tourism.

You are delivering a keynote speech at RTD8 on the future of destination management. Can you explain some issues that you are going to address and say why they are significant?

The future of destination management is critical for anyone involved in tourism in local areas. It is the process by which visitor experiences in destinations are delivered for the benefit of the local economy, in favour of the local community and without the expense of the environment. Often there is a focus on promotional activity and the difficult economic climate can make people think this is the most important aspect of destination management, but done well it is much more than this.

Taking a more holistic approach to ensure great experiences is more challenging but it is in the best interests of stakeholders in destinations and for visitors. Those in local areas, in different sectors as well as tourism, will increasingly need to work together to create responsible destinations.

How do you ensure destinations are managed responsibly across England? What assessment criteria do you have in place to monitor this?

We work in partnership with destinations across England. Whilst we provide leadership, insight and strategic direction, local areas are responsible for the development of their own visitor economies. Local people and businesses in destinations should shape what tourism looks like locally – good destination management organisations provide the local leadership and drive collaboration that can help responsible approaches to tourism development.

We lead by example and help to build capacity in local areas to develop good destination management. We support a holistic approach to destination management and encourage those in destinations to develop and sign up to a destination management plan. Guidance and good practice for destinations is provided on our website and also through our destination management forum. We want to support and celebrate the importance and value that destination management brings to making the local visitor economy as good as it can be.

How can RTD8 influence policy and stakeholder engagement for tourism destination development?

We are delighted to be partnering and co-hosting this conference in England. The stature and prestige of this event will have positive ramifications. It is a showcase for responsible tourism that will challenge people’s perceptions and encourage even greater change for the good.

What can VisitEngland do to boost responsible forms of tourism in and around destinations?

England’s strategic framework for tourism is a template which can encourage responsible tourism. Responsible Tourism (or Wise Growth as it’s referred to in these documents) is woven through the action plans. For destination planning and management we have to understand issues associated with society and the environment, and take the visitor seriously.

How can tourism help sustain areas of natural beauty and the countryside for years to come?

It is a long-term consideration, to manage the product and manage the visitor properly. Remote communities are sustained by visitor income, therefore recognising the economic opportunities and a careful and considered approach to this needs to be undertaken.

How can RTD8 and English Tourism Week help create better places for people to visit through tourism?

English Tourism Week is a celebration of tourism in England and focuses on the importance of the visitor economy to local economic development, local people and for businesses across the country. The conference is an element of this and a wonderful showcase for responsible tourism.

What is VisitEngland doing to influence people in England to take more sustainable holidays and how difficult is it to get this message across?

It’s not really a defined product; it is multi-faceted and holidays need to be conducive to responsible tourism – at the seaside, in rural or urban areas, on holiday or whilst away for business. It’s about promoting a product that supports the local economy, environment and society.

If you look at our website – – you will find lots of inspirational holiday ideas where quintessential England is celebrated, where local people, local food and local culture and heritage can be enjoyed.

To view the original article please click here.

Sustainable tourism for the future we want

Kelly Bricker, chair of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), speaks with Blue & Green Tomorrow about the potential of tourism to influence how the world operates.

What is sustainable tourism?

I think one of the best definitions of sustainable tourism is that written by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, which addresses what sustainable tourism actually should be doing:

Sustainable tourism should:

1. Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity

2. Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance

3. Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation

Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building. Achieving sustainable tourism is a continuous process and it requires constant monitoring of impacts, introducing the necessary preventive and/or corrective measures whenever necessary.

Sustainable tourism should also maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience to the tourists, raising their awareness about sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices amongst them

What’s the most effective way of raising awareness of sustainable tourism to travellers and holidaymakers?

Through word of mouth. One of the greatest avenues by which people not only learn about other destinations and activities, but actually ‘trust’ the source, is through word of mouth.

Getting sustainable tourism on social media sites, having folks discuss these products on blogs, National Geographic and other forms of popular media really can be effective.

What are the benefits of making the global travel and tourism industries sustainable? What are the consequences of not doing this?

To me, the obvious benefits are that we actually conserve the wonders of the world and the special places of the world that make our planet environmentally and culturally diverse. We can also improve the quality of people’s lives, who are ultimately very dependent on healthy and diverse ecosystems—for human survival.

As the leading economic driver on our planet, tourism has a unique opportunity to influence how the world operates. Sustaining places sustains us as human beings. Without a healthy planet where industries operate, sustaining ecosystems services, where human rights are respected, where quality of life is improved, we really cannot exist long-term.

Is it contradictory to fly on a sustainable holiday?

Air travel is a super highway in the sky. We know the economic and other benefits tourism can bring to regions that have limited development alternatives; therefore, we must continue to look at reducing emissions, better technology and improved methods for air travel.

Countries such as Costa Rica are looking at ways to improve offsets and create carbon neutral experiences for those travelling to their shores, because of their reliance on international tourism. There are no easy solutions, and improvements must be made. Weighing it all out is an important research problem. Would a destination be better off with no international travellers? I do not think we have the answers just yet.

What is the economic case for sustainable tourism?

We reached just over 1 billion travellers last year. Hence, over a billion opportunities to effect positive change. Yet in some economies, the income earned from tourism ‘leaks’ out of the region or country, and as a result does not benefit local communities. When this happens, the economic benefits are realized elsewhere.

So the economic case for sustainable tourism is that the income generated must recycle into the local community. When this happens, infrastructure is improved, people benefit directly in ancillary businesses, employment improves, and ultimately poverty is reduced.

One argument around the future of tourism is that we simply need to have fewer holidays – particularly to the most far-flung places on Earth – to be truly sustainable. To what extent do you agree?

I am not sure I agree, and would like to continue to pursue this idea through evidence-based research—real evidence one way or the other. The alternatives for some destinations reliant on tourism are not great. I think we need to continue to explore what other development opportunities are available for destinations or locales.

Fewer holidays are not necessarily the answer; most likely it is more important to look at population growth and what we consume overall. Travel is not necessarily the ‘criminal’. It is more likely that increased population with increased demands on the world’s resources is the cause of our own demise.

We need to learn to live within our means, use resources wisely, conserve the ecosystem services upon which human life really depends, develop in a way that does not create a mess for some other location, etc. There are larger issues at stake here, and travelling may not be the worst of it all. However, we must learn to develop travel experiences in a sustainable way, and as an industry we are clearly not all on the same page just yet.

What are the key sustainable tourism trends for the next decade?

Great and difficult question. This is really anybody’s guess, but given the current conditions, people are going to increase their own knowledge of sustainable products, and therefore become more educated consumers as evidenced in online programmes.

Companies are going to seek sustainable verification and operations to reduce risk, improve marketing appeal to consumers, and reduce costs overall.

The planet will continue to be under siege, and therefore, sustainability in all sectors of society will be a must; because of human reliance on ecosystem services, industries will continue to look towards efficiency, low impact improvements to their operations; and increasing quality of life attributes which will increase in importance

Products will be designed to increase connection to the environment, and enhance quality of life at the destination level. Sustainable tourism is moving from a product focus to a destination level focus – sustainability in tourism will focus on supply chains, community and region level sustainability

How can investors play a role in encouraging a shift to sustainable tourism?

The United Nations Environmental Programme released the Green Economy Report which really addresses this question. Through this report, UNEP and experts all over the world explore the case for a different approach for development – through a ‘green’ economy. This explores how we secure resources, supply chains, and consumption and production methods for many industries.

This is an excellent resource and I would suggest investors review this resource and really explore the power they have for positive change. Investors can encourage sustainable production, they can create a demand for sustainable development through the creation of guidelines, such as the GSTC Criteria, to promote sustainable development, long-term vision for strong economic growth, social welfare, and environmental protection.

Where should someone start if they want to consider the ethical or environmental footprint of their holidays in 2014?

Ask questions! We also have GSTC recognised certification programmes that have asked many questions for the consumer. For example, certification programmes have looked in detail at sustainable operations, social and environmental criteria that help demonstrate a tourism operation is actually effecting positive change.

Have a look at the GSTC Criteria. Ask questions regarding the contributions back to local communities, the commitment to the environment and preserving and protecting biodiversity; ask questions concerning human rights, and laws protecting women and child and all members of society from human exploitation; ask what is the destination doing to contribute to quality of life, protecting the planet and committing to a just and democratic world. In the end, we must really ask ourselves: what kind of world do we want?

Kelly Bricker is chair of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and associate professor at the University of Utah in parks, recreation and tourism.

Photo: Josh Rosenblum via stock.xchng

This article originally appeared in the Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2014.