Responsible Travel, the website which brings together the world’s largest collection of responsible holidays, launches a complete overhaul of its site today with the announcement of 30% year on year growth and its ambition to popularise responsible tourism which it believes is intrinsic in tackling a growing climate of mistrust between people of different cultures, both in wider society and in tourism.
In a statement today Justin Francis, CEO of Responsible Travel lays out the company’s ambitions, and in the wake of the EU referendum calls for tourism to help spread a positive message of unity and friendship at a time when global mistrust of other cultures appears to be growing.
“In the wake of last week’s EU referendum it seems that when faced with strangers – whether this be immigrants or EU politicians – much of the UK is getting very fearful. I think we have to ask ourselves whether our attitude to strangers is changing in a healthy way.
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“Much like the country the tourism industry is also divided, between those who prefer to separate local people from tourists in all inclusive resorts and cruise ships, and those who see meeting strangers from other parts of the world as part of the intrinsic appeal of travel.
“For those of us active in responsible tourism our role is to help counter this growing mistrust through positive, open, friendly and fair opportunities to enjoy the company of strangers.
“This makes it a good day to launch our newly updated website and to start our campaign to popularise responsible tourism.
“The demand for responsible tourism is there. Since 2008 there has been a steady move towards brands with a clearer ‘social purpose’ and we believe we are benefitting from customers’ increasing interest in this.
“Responsible Travel has been growing very quickly since the start of 2015, with year on year booking revenues up over 30%. We are now growing faster than any previous point in our 15 year history. We hope to influence the rest of the industry and persuade them that a more caring form of tourism can be very commercially successful.
“With our new site launch we are about to up our game, so too must everyone who believes in tolerant world when every stranger is a potential friend and ally.”
Evidence of mistrust between tourists and local people can be seen across the mass tourism industry. Reacting to complaints from local residents about overcrowding and pressure on local services, Barcelona is looking to curtail the numbers of visitors it receives, the unsustainable impact of large cruise ships and associated crowds on Venice is well documented and recently all inclusive resorts in Cyprus have been accused by local residents of destroying smaller, local business reliant on tourism. Iceland has also recently stated its intention to focus its strategy on responsible tourism, to ‘be careful’ of the cruise industry and to restrict the number of short-term holiday rentals to protect its towns’ cultural integrity as it responds to record numbers of international visitors.
Responsible Travel will now be focussing on exciting customers about responsible tourism and reclaiming from the mainstream industry the concept of travel which meets the dreams of tourists and local people through its new strapline “Helping dreamers do”.