Searching for tourism’s Big Contribution

A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak on communicating sustainability at the World Travel Market’s Responsible Tourism event.

As a ‘fugitive from responsible tourism’ (I used to be part of the sustainability team at TUI Travel), it was great to start thinking again about the unique sustainability challenges of travel and tourism, and to catch up with colleagues and friends who are working hard to address them.

If you have a few minutes, please watch the full session: there were excellent contributions from Jo Hendrickx of Thomas Cook, Xavier Font of Leeds Metropolitan University, and Gail Ward of Responsible Photography.

My speech starts at 4:20. The slides are sadly out of shot, so I’ve added them to SlideShare so you can click along at home.

The panel agreed on one thing: trying to communicate the concept of ‘responsible tourism’ to mainstream consumers doesn’t work. I was asked to bring an external perspective to the panel, so I outlined a few examples of what does work in other sectors.

I identified two attributes of really successful brand communications on sustainability – linking to consumers’ values, and being part of something bigger – and used a couple of examples to illustrate why.

It’s not just tourism that hasn’t yet cracked this sustainability communications thing. These two themes come up again and again in my work, and at some point I’ll write some more about them… but for now, this video is my best introduction. Enjoy!

Image: Beach scene at Current, Eleuthera by Trish Hartmann is licensed under CC BY 2.0