Tourist board league table for responsible tourism published

Press statement: 4 March 2015

First Tourist Board Responsible Tourism League Table published: The best ranked national tourist boards were Bhutan, South Africa, Sweden and England.

Responsible Travel has published the first league table of tourist boards* graded by commitment to responsible tourism as published on their websites, and asks whether more should be done to ensure tax payers’ money is being used to promote local over global initiatives.

The national tourist board websites of Responsible Travel’s top 50 selling countries were examined and six questions were asked, relating to tourists boards’ vision, policies and activity in responsible and sustainable tourism:
  1. Is there any mention anywhere of responsible or sustainable tourism?
  2. Does responsible or sustainable tourism feature in their vision/mission?
  3. Do they have any specific policies for responsible or sustainable tourism?
  4. Do they have evidence based reports on any achievements in responsible or sustainable tourism?
  5. Do they identify holidays on their site that have been screened or audited for responsible tourism?
  6. Do they provide any educational information or tips for tourists about responsible tourism?
Tourist boards could score a maximum of 6 points (all covered) and a minimum of 0. Seven tourist boards scored 0 - China, Finland, Ethiopia, Vietnam, France, Japan and the USA, meaning they had no reference to responsible or sustainable tourism anywhere on their sites. They have no published policies; no evidence of any achievement and provide no information for tourists. Bhutan, South Africa and Sweden all scored 6 points.

Commenting on the results, Responsible Travel CEO Justin Francis said:

"We are very surprised that so many tourist boards’ vision statements include no or little reference to sustainability; and by how many have no published responsible tourism policies or activities.

"We think that serious questions should be asked of the tourist boards at the bottom of our league table. Their tax-payers’ money is potentially being spent developing and promoting tourism with no regard to whether it’s contributing to creating local jobs or expat jobs; whether they source locally to support local suppliers/producers or source from global markets; or whether they contribute to sustaining natural and cultural heritage or to destroying it.

"In many cases around the world we think responsibility in tourism is being achieved despite the tourist board not because of it. South Africa is a real exception. They have national and local strategies for responsible tourism enshrined in law and policy and with real programs of work to deliver it, although delivery is still patchy. Without any clearly visible published policies for responsible tourism we cannot be sure tourist boards have any way to manage tourism for the benefit of local communities. In other destinations there are excellent examples of highly responsible local businesses, yet their hard work and commitment is not reflected in their tourist boards communications. Our research looks at the tourist board’s ability to communicate policies and action around responsible tourism - not local businesses."


Are national tourist boards doing enough to promote local over global initiatives? Have your say!

The full table:

Tourist boardScore
South Africa6
Bhutan6
Sweden6
England6
Botswana5
Costa Rica5
Chile5
Morocco5
Norway5
Laos5
Indonesia5
India4
Peru4
Burma (Myanmar)4
Namibia4
Tanzania4
Uganda4
Canada4
Kenya4
Spain3
Madagascar3
Scotland3
Jordan3
Nepal3
Australia3
Croatia2
Ecuador2
Thailand2
Cambodia2
Romania2
Zambia2
Italy1
Cuba1
Malaysia1
Sri Lanka1
Turkey1
Portugal1
Trinidad & Tobago1
Greece1
Iceland1
Bolivia1
Tibet1
Montenegro1
Finland0
Vietnam0
Japan0
France0
China0
Ethiopia0
USA0


* We are purely judging national tourist boards' commitment to responsible tourism based on what they publish online and the only evidence is what we have found on their websites. Like normal tourists, we do not know all that tourist boards are doing to make sure that their local suppliers, employees and natural heritage benefit from their work to bring more tourists to their country; we can only go on what they publish on their websites.


Have your say: Are national tourist boards doing enough to promote local over global initiatives?

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