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Published on Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Responsible tourism comes to manchester

Spectacular setting for first day - Gorton Monastry

The Eighth Responsible Tourism in Destinations Conference got the tourism industry in its most responsible mood.

Coinciding with both English Tourism Week and Responsible Business Week, the conference brought together both mass tourism players and niche operators showcasing their responsible achievements.

First day was sponsored by Visit England and CEO James Berresford claimed that tourism to England would increase to £158 billion value by 2020 and employs 2.6million. Moreover 'Staycations' negate flying emissions.

He called for a 360 degree approach to destination management, maximizing the value of tourism to all.

And Beresford's approach was endorsed by Nick Brooks-Sykes from Bath Tourism Plus who explained how Bath's visitor economy was worth £357m a year, and argued that the town was the "birthplace of DMOs" - where the first destination manager was Beau Nash who created Bath as a tourism destination in the 17th century. Social mingling in the 18th century came long before 21st century social media, he said.

Kevin Anderson from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at neighbouring Manchester University outlined the grim reality facing us all in the form of climate change.

Paul Britton from Thomson Cruises, the third largest cruise line in the UK, with 250,000 annual passengers outlined the emissions, energy and expense-minimizing changes that he has made to Thomson's cruise itineraries.

Nikki White, from ABTA talked about a lesser-known aspect of responsible tourism - accessible tourism and social inclusion.

Davina Stanford from Leeds Met spoke about her 'wise growth' research and how to keep it real for residents and visitors in destinations. We really do need persuasive communication, she said, because nudging people will only take us so far.

And in the final seated session 'Grand Old Man of the travel industry' Martin Brackenbury in a joint act with Jason Freezer of Visit England reflected on day one of the conference.

Brackenbury, president of the International Federation of Tour Operators for two decades until 2010,  and with a top-level history in the UK travel business going back to the 1970s described the first day as "extraordinarily stimulating". He described tourist destinations as "living, changing entities" and said how they needed to be "nurtured like gardens".

Meanwhile Freezer, head of destination management at VisitEngland, called for the private sector to become more engaged with responsible tourism and to join the conversation at the next RTD conference. He concluded that the "silo mentality" that exists - the thinking that one industry alone can change the world - needed to be broken.

Valere Tjolle

Two new offers for destinations: Get the best resilience for your stakeholders

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