As CSR Commissioner for ITB Berlin, Rika Jean Francois has observed that Overtourism is a key industry talking point this year. There were at least six panels dealing with the subject at ITB Berlin this year – all attempting to find lasting solutions. We urgently need to find solutions.
Digitalisation can help, but smart visitor control systems are only one part of the solution – we also have to think about alternative concepts, like breaking seasonality or decentralisation.
What other challenges have you observed?
Another global concern is the on-going pollution of the oceans with persistent microand macroplastic waste as it has drastic effects on the ecology and our health and of course tourism!
In a positive way, I think there is a trend to include sustainable and responsible thinking into destination management plans. For instance, our ITB Partner, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has developed numerous sustainable tourism projects. In cooperation with Mecklenburg-Vorpommern for the first time ever we left a zero carbon footprint for our opening ceremony.
What was new at the show in terms of CSR initiatives, or exhibitors?
The seminar on Gender Equality in Tourism at the Palais on Thursday, 8 March, International Women’s Day, was of special significance.The Zambia Tourism Forum was also of interest: ITB’s Convention and Culture Partner 2018 gave an insight into how heritage interpretation can be a development tool for rural tourism.
How important is CSR and sustainability in the decision making process of buyers today and what is the trend there?
Consumer behaviour is in the process of changing: Fair Trade is becoming more popular and so is Fair Travel. People have want to live a healthier, more balanced life style. Consumers will see (CSR and sustainability) as a matter of course and tourism providers shall be prepared, it will be considered de rigueur.
Photo: Rika Jean Francois CSR Commissioner, ITB Berlin