The third edition of the Responsible Tourism Award by WTM Latin America is announced
Entries will remain open until the end of 2022 and the finalists will be announced in March 2023
In the week in which the world celebrates Responsible Tourism, WTM Latin America announces the opening of entries for the award that recognizes the most inspiring initiatives in responsible tourism in the Latin American region. Companies of all sizes and sectors of activity and tourist destinations have until December 31, 2022 to apply for the third edition of the award that continues with the aim of inspiring the market by example and, consequently, causing positive changes in the travel and tourism industry.
“Responsibility for the impacts of tourism activity is an issue that WTM Latin America has worked hard on. We understand that the entire sector needs to be part of this dialogue and the search for alternative paths and solutions to transform destinations into better places”, says Thais Del Ben, Marketing and Communication Manager of WTM Latin America, who also highlights that tourism responsible has been gaining strength.
In its 2022 edition, the event dedicated an auditorium as a stage for debates focused on this important topic. “The well-attended sessions prove the progress of the agendas related to responsible tourism and the evolution of the demand for this topic. It was a very pleasant surprise to see the increased interest of professionals in knowing inspiring and replicable stories to multiply the positive impacts from tourism”, celebrates Gustavo Pinto, Responsible Tourism advisor for WTM Latin America and coordinator of the Award.
Both the seminars and the awards aim to alert travel agents, tour operators and the entire chain to rethink processes to join forces in combating the challenges that impact the environment and tourism activity globally, transforming individual efforts in vehicles for sustainable development. “Tourism can and should be a strategy to transform destinations into better places to live and visit. We want to learn about creative and inspiring stories that can be adapted and replicated anywhere in the world, especially those that are developed by small companies and individual entrepreneurs, a business model that corresponds to 90% of our industry in the region”, recalls Gustavo.
In addition to this effort to multiply success stories, Gustavo highlights this set of actions developed by WTM as an important incentive to change the behavior of professionals in relation to business. “For changes to occur, we must be a motivating vehicle, and that includes rethinking the supply chain as well as our role as consumers. At the end of the day, all the actors have a share of responsibility to assume for the impacts generated and that does not exclude the tourist”, warns the specialist, highlighting the growing demand for trips that combine the minimization of environmental impacts with the reversal of socioeconomic benefits to destinations, a movement that brings business opportunities to companies that follow these premises.
Dialogue with current issues
The third edition of the Responsible Tourism Award is divided into six categories that address fundamental issues for the advancement of tourism activity in a responsible manner. Starting with the initiatives related to climate change, a key issue in the face of the challenge that its worsening brings to life on the planet and that requires the union of various links to advance effectively. “Another challenging issue is the management of single-use plastics, since our sector is a large consumer of this input. The fact that plastic continues to be disposed of incorrectly causes serious problems not only for the environment but also for tourist activity in sun and beach destinations, which depend directly on this supply”, he explains.
Corporate initiatives aimed at diversity and inclusion also feature among the Award's categories, as well as those dedicated to nature conservation. “We know that, despite recent advances, issues related to accessibility for people with disabilities, initiatives for female empowerment, and the inclusion of black, indigenous, maroon, LGBTQIA+ people continue to be major problems in Latin America. Likewise, we understand that fauna, flora, aquatic resources and soil are essential elements for tourism to take place, which motivates us to look for success stories in these two categories that dialogue with the issues of the moment and that they go unnoticed for the development of the activity in Latin America”, he sums up.
To understand how the activity promotes local consumption, the third edition of the Responsible Tourism Award introduces a new category that will highlight the purchase models of handicrafts, food and other items in tourist destinations. The idea of honoring these initiatives is based on the assumption that reinforcing a sense of place through local flavors and arts contributes to the traveler experience and provides additional income opportunities to communities. Another novelty for 2023 is the celebration of initiatives that generate significant connections between the place visited, the host and the tourist, and result in loyalty and recommendation to their friends and family.
The works presented for the Award will be judged by 18 renowned professionals in different areas and from different Latin American countries. "They are all enthusiasts of responsible tourism and are at the forefront of specific segments such as nature tourism and community-based tourism, among others," summarizes Gustavo, recalling that the jury is made up of travel agents, operators, directors of associations, representatives of public power, journalists, academics and opinion formers.
Among the evaluation criteria are the originality, the potential for replicability and the possibility of measuring the impacts achieved thanks to the proposed solution. “This last topic still scares many people who associate measurement with the complex methodologies used by large corporations, which is not always true. Often the impact of a creative solution, created by a small company and measured with artisan tools, is proportionally more important than the solution proposed by more structured groups”, he concludes.
The six categories receiving entries for the third edition of the award are: 1) Best solutions for plastic waste management; 2) Better meaningful connections; 3) Better models of local shopping, crafts and food; 4) Addressing climate change; 5) Better solutions to promote diversity and inclusion; and 6) Better initiatives for nature conservation. The requirements for each theme, as well as the winners of the 2022 edition, are available at https://www.wtm.com/latin-america/pt-br/programacao/premio-turismo-responsavel.html