Environment, equality, rights and respect

Rika Jean-François, CSR Commissioner at ITB Berlin – on Responsible Tourism at ITB Berlin

We asked Ms Jean-François what the highlights have been…

During this year’s ITB Berlin we once again celebrated International Women’s Day, which had been recently declared a National Holiday in the city state of Berlin. This is a big achievement and we are on the right track to work towards increased empowerment of women in our industry! I am proud to have gathered many excellent and engaged women especially at our 2nd Gender Equality in Tourism Seminar and at the 4th ITB-IIPT “Celebrating Her Awards” which took place at the Palais in the eve of that new, remarkable Berlin Holiday. Of course, male allies were also welcomed – we still have a long way to go. On 8th March, we hosted a SheTrades panel in the Palais and welcomed many special female guests at our renowned ITB – Blue Yonder Responsible Tourism Network Event in the evening at 6 pm in hall 4.1b.

Another subject close to your heart is Human Rights in Tourism. Please tell us more.

At ITB, we foster dialogue and controversial discussions, as they pave the way to awareness. Violations of human rights are manifold; may they be because of age, gender, looks, colour of skin, disability, medical condition, economic status, origin, sexual orientation. It is important to address each one of them and to search for solutions rather than looking away. Tourism can help to open doors and to ght discrimination. It will even pay: On ITB Thursday we had a vibrant discussion on whether respecting human rights could economically benefit a destination. Indigenous rights and the challenge to promote an indigenous tourism which is a respectful and community- bene tting, an often neglected subject, were addressed on Wednesday. One of the biggest challenges of the future is climate change. A 16-year- old girl from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, has become a global leader, skipping school on Fridays to demonstrate against the environmental sell-out – shaming and opening the eyes of all of us. It was a pure highlight to have Prof Dr Schellnhuber as our first speaker of the ITB CSR Day explain how extremely important it is to act now as climate change is already in full flow.

Climate change, innovative mobility and changing customer demands were other key topics. What was discussed there?

The ITB CSR Day, among other significant subjects, also addressed the pollution of our waters: 10 million tons of litter is dumped into the sea per year. This is not only having a negative impact on idyllic beach holiday destinations and tourism but on our ecosystem as a whole. To support best practices, ITB Berlin is proud to have given out the ITB Earth Award to the Republic of Palau, a destination showing global leadership in combatting environmental degradation in the frame of the Sustainable Top 100 Destination Awards Ceremony that took place on Wednesday in the Palais. “There is no business on a dead planet!” Thank you for not looking away, thank you for participating and getting involved!

Photo: Rika Jean-François, CSR Commissioner at ITB Berlin