Fostering a responsible, sustainable tourism industry is not something you can leave to other businesses or delegate within your own. All hotels – large, small, luxury or budget – and tourism operators of all stripes can play a role in advancing sustainable practices. Not only are they good for the planet, socially and environmentally, but they are increasingly driving economic benefits that can help a hotel’s bottom line.
eHotelier interviewed Harold Goodwin, a Professor of Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University and Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism. For the last decade he has been at the forefront of efforts to make tourism more responsible, working with tour operators in the UK, as an originating market, and with communities and governments in destinations around the world. He chairs the judges of World Responsible Tourism Awards and the advisory panel of the International Tourism Partnership of leading international hotels. He is World Travel Market’s advisor on Responsible Tourism and provides the programme in for WTM London, Africa and Latin America and ATM in Dubai.
Goodwin is also the author of Taking Responsibility for Tourism, a 274-page digital ebook that is available to purchase through eHotelier: click here.
What prompted to you write this book?
After years of working with the industry and communities around the world and having had the privilege of teaching mid-career professionals engaged in tourism, hospitality and conservation, I wanted to be able to share the knowledge and the responsibility approach with those who can, and want, to make a difference. Goodfellow allowed me to write a book for professionals about making a difference.
In the book, you encourage readers to ‘make their contribution’. Are there any seemingly small actions that hoteliers can take that would have positive effects? And if so what are they?
There are so many to choose from! For starters, encourage your colleagues and staff to engage. So much can be achieved by remembering to switch off lights and turn off water. Try creating a kitchen garden and sourcing local jams. Communicate with your guests – encourage them to visit local attractions or take part in local activities. They’ll stay longer and may come back time and again. Don’t forget to entice your guests to return at different seasons – in the snow or the monsoon, your hotel is in a “different place” then.
Should we expect more from the big corporate hotel chains to take the led here or do you think SME’s can be more effective by being more ‘fleet of foot’ and implementing rapid change?
We should expect more of bigger players – they have more resources. But the SMEs are indeed more fleet of foot, more connected to their community. In the World Responsible Tourism Awards every year we see examples of small accommodation providers being more efficient with energy and water, reducing waste, supporting their neighbours by sourcing locally, providing an annual party for local disadvantaged children, developing their staff and recycling and reusing linen and furniture with local charities.
If you had one piece of advice for all managers, what would it be?
All forms of tourism can be more responsible and we can all make a difference. Look at your business, the clients it attracts, your staff and the community around your hotel, your neighbours and their place. Ask yourself and them what the local issues are and see where you can make a difference.
Click here to buy Goodwin’s book Taking Responsibility for Tourism. The content covers:
Chapter 1 Why Responsible Tourism
Chapter 2 Responsible Tourism and the UK Marketplace
Chapter 3 The Business Case for Responsibility
Chapter 4 Responsible Tourism in Destinations
Chapter 5 Responsible Tourism in Practice
Chapter 6 Economic Responsibility
Chapter 7 Environmental Responsibility
Chapter 8 Conclusion