Hotels around the world are being encouraged to enter the 2017 World Tourism Market (WTM) Responsible Tourism Awards which this year have a new focus.
In a shift from previous years’ World Responsible Tourism Awards, this year the WTM Awards are focused on tourism’s contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals , the SDG’s.
Handing on the baton, ResponsibleTravel.com said, “We are pleased that WTM have chosen to continue with a global Awards, with Harold Goodwin continuing to chair the panel of judges.”
For this year’s global Responsible Tourism Awards they are looking for examples of good practice, where businesses, organisations, and destinations are able to transparently report the outcomes and impacts of their efforts to make tourism more sustainable; to use tourism to make better places for people to live in. They are looking for businesses and tourism organisations that can demonstrate their positive sustainable development impact. They recognise that smaller companies will have smaller impacts. However, smaller businesses and organisations are no less worthy of an award and should not be deterred from applying. The judges are looking to recognise a range of approaches to reporting impact and communicating it to consumers, local people and governments.
For many years the sector has asserted its economic and social importance, the World Travel and Tourism Council  reports that for the sixth consecutive year in 2016 growth in travel and tourism outpaced growth in the global GDP. The WTTC reports that its research suggests that travel & tourism is 10.2% of world GDP and that the sector employs 292 million people providing 1 in 10 jobs globally. The forecast is for travel & tourism to growth at 4.9% year on year for the next ten years.
More recently the Global Sustainable Tourism Dashboard has provided macro-data on a broader range of issues including environmental impact, resource efficiency, and gender equality. What the sector lacks is clear evidence of its positive impacts: the negative impacts are increasingly apparent. Macro estimates, however well done, cannot provide this - individual businesses and destinations can produce much more credible evidence of their impacts.
This year’s Awards provide the opportunity for businesses, organisations and destinations to differentiate themselves and secure a market advantage. Jane Ashton has reported customer research  conducted globally by TUI, with over 3,800 people in six countries, confirmed that sustainability can be a deciding factor in their holiday choices and that customers want more information when it comes to booking. TUI  is already reporting its sustainability using the SDGs, and more hotel groups are aligning their CSR activities with the SDGs.
There are five categories this year – the first four are open only to those who have won gold or silver in the last three years in the global, African, Indian or Irish Responsible Tourism Awards. The fifth category is for organisations new to the awards.
The organisers have emphasised those SDGs where tourism is specifically mentioned: SDGs 8, 12 & 14. Category 4 is to enable all those who make a significant contribution to one of the other SDGs to apply, and Category 5 creates an opportunity for those who have not won an RT Award in the last three years to participate.
The 2017 Awards categories are:
- SDG8 : Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
- SDG 12 : Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns, tourism that creates jobs, promotes local culture and products.
- SDG 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development through the sustainable management of tourism on and in the oceans.
- Remaining SDGs : Businesses and tourism organisations that can demonstrate their contribution to one of the other 14 SDGs
- Newcomers : Businesses and tourism organisations which can demonstrate a contribution to one of the SDGs but which have not won Responsible Tourism Awards in the last three years.
The Responsible Tourism Awards focus on the contributions made by tourism businesses and organisations and by destinations – to recognise those who are making a difference. The change makers, those leading the way to make tourism more sustainable by taking responsibility for driving down the negative impacts of tourism and increasing the positive impacts. Hotels and hotel groups are strongly encouraged to apply. Learn more here .
Follow the links for more information about what the SDGs cover, many have multiple targets. Remember that, unlike the MDGs, the SDGs apply to all countries.
The WTM Responsible Tourism Awards are open for applications until August 31st. To apply download the form below and send your application in by August 31st to WTMRTA@responsibletourismpartnership.org