India leads the way for WTM Responsible Tourism Awards
India has been recognized as the leading country for responsible tourism in WTM Responsible Tourism Award. Launched in 2004, the event recognizes and rewards businesses and destinations that contribute to a more sustainable tourism industry.
Organizers noted that in 2008, the South West Coastal State of Kerala led the way when it hosted the 2nd International Conference on Responsible tourism in destinations. From there the Responsible Tourism Mission was born and spread throughout Kerala. Its benefits were quickly recognized by other states in India.
Decarbonize travel and tourism
Govardhan village is a 100-acre retreat center and model farming community in Maharashtra, India. The campus offers residential conferences and study programs, attracting 50,000 tourists per year. It avoids emissions thanks to solar panels which provide nearly 185,000 units of electricity per year.
Cow dung and other wet waste is converted into electricity, while plastic waste is converted into both light gas oil and electricity. The site also uses soil bio-technology to turn wastewater into gray water for irrigation, so there is no need to pump water from the river.
Campus buildings are constructed from blocks of stabilized compressed earth (DSEB) which consume less energy, and all materials are sourced within a 100 km radius to reduce carbon emissions from transportation.
Support employees and communities during the pandemic
The V&A Waterfront in Cape Town Harbor is a mixed-use destination, built to benefit those who would otherwise be excluded and marginalized.
It continued to successfully increase employment at 3.7% per year, throughout the pandemic. In December 2020, as business soared, they launched Landing of manufacturers, a gastronomic community that celebrates South Africa’s diverse cultures through food.
The site includes a shared incubation kitchen, a demonstration kitchen, eight maker production stations, a food market with around 35 flexible market stalls, eight small cooperative restaurants and five anchor restaurants of different sizes.
In addition to supporting start-up entrepreneurs, it has provided grants for mentoring and coaching up revolving funds to support businesses and create jobs.
From their urban garden, they provided Ladies of love, a downtown food program that provides meals to the poor, with just under 6 tonnes of vegetables. This provided 130,000 meals to the local community over two years.
Destinations are rebuilding better after COVID-19
The Madhya Pradesh Tourist Office The rural tourism program was also recognized in the awards. Especially for how he learned from the Responsible Tourism Mission in Kerala, which has helped him increase his impact on rural communities.
The program, implemented in 100 villages in three years, offers tourists an authentic country experience through activities such as rides oxcart, agriculture and home stays. This helps to create jobs and alternative business opportunities for rural communities.
The project provides training needs based on the operations of the host family, cooking, health and hygiene, bookkeeping and accounting, among others. At its heart is a commitment to inclusion and engagement, regardless of social and economic status.
Growing Diversity in Tourism: How Inclusive is the Industry?
No fingerprints, based in Mumbai, India, allows visitors to connect with the communities that have made the city what it is over generations. It offers the opportunity to meet Parsis, Bohris, East Indians and the queer community and listen to their stories.
Over the past six years, No Footprints has organized 22 different niche travel experiences in Mumbai and the company is now expanding to Delhi. Their goal is to introduce travelers to the history, culture and diverse peoples of the cities they represent.
Some of their most popular tours include Mumbai at dawn, the fishing village of Worli, a colonial promenade, and their innovative tour designed to tickle the five senses, which includes a visit to a spice market. They also offer art and cooking workshops, a heritage bike tour and a chance to experience the excitement of cricket.
The “No Footprints Queer Day” includes a visit to the temple of a goddess worshiped by traditional transgender communities, creating conversation space on Cruise, Grindr, Pride and Drag.
The tour is led and organized by individuals of the Queer community to help ensure the authenticity and allow tourists to have a glimpse of Queer culture of the city.
Reduce plastic waste in the environment
The Six Senses Hotel on the Maldivian island of Laamu is determined to become plastic-free by 2022. This includes removing all plastics and food packaging from the front of the house. One of their biggest challenges were the Styrofoam boxes that local fishing boats used to store their catch before bringing it to the resort.
Staff have worked with local packaging suppliers and fishermen and now have food delivered to the resort in cardboard boxes lined inside with hemp, jute and wood fiber panels that are 100% biodegradable and compostable .
The complex also desalinates seawater by reverse osmosis, followed by ultraviolet purification, making it ideal for showering and drinking. Their leaf garden provides 40 different herbs and vegetables, and the “Kukulhu Village” provides eggs and chickens for their restaurants.
By collecting supplies on the island, the resort is able to significantly reduce plastic food packaging. They also sell without a plastic toolbox, which includes a refillable water bottle, a reusable bag, a bamboo toothbrush and wooden pencils.
Guests can join a Sustainability tour to see innovation and experimentation in action in their Earth Lab, a hub for self-sufficiency and zero waste.
Fifty percent of water sales at all Six Senses restaurants help fund initiatives for clean, reliable drinking water for local communities in need and the resort has also completed over 200 beach and reef cleanings.
Develop the local economy for young people
Mumbai-based Village Ways invites guests to wander from village to village with a local guide, staying in specially constructed guesthouses that are community owned, operated and managed.
Starting in 2005 with five villages, they are now working with 22 villages, providing employment opportunities for young people who might otherwise migrate to the cities. Tourism income complements rather than replaces other income, so that households do not abandon traditional jobs such as farming.
They also promote gender equality and social inclusion. During the pandemic, Village Ways restructured its business and improved staff skills of its Mumbai office, to ensure that the company continues to grow during the pandemic.
When tourism stopped, Village Ways developed virtual visits with village communities, including cooking demonstrations, attracting about 200 participants each. They also closed their UK marketing office, choosing to focus on the Indian domestic market.