Planning to be at RTD5

Planning for RTD5 in Canada, June 2011

In planning to attend the 5th International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations (RTD5) to be held in Edmonton, Canada on the 27 -29 June 2011 I was thinking about the RTD4 last year in Oman and what a fantastic experience it was.

As responsible tourism individuals and also as members of the ICRT community we have to be ambassadors and activists for the Responsible Tourism movement.

My experience in Oman was that it was an ideal environment to be able to:

  • share ideas,
  • learn from others,
  • be an activist as well as
  • expand ones network.

Sharing ideas – I particularly enjoyed the session led by Xavier and Harold where ICRT members, alumni and supporters from around the world got together at the end of one of the days to discuss how we can work together as an RT global community and continue to build momentum for the responsible tourism movement. There we were some 30 individuals in the room all with a passion for RT and all with their own experiences and ideas to bring to the table. Although we get the opportunity when studying the masters at ICRT to share our ideas and experiences, for someone like me who lives outside the UK and is not able to attend a lot of the monthly Alumni sessions in London or Leeds, having the opportunity to share ideas in Oman with people who are actively involved in RT globally was hugely beneficial.

Learning from others – one of the great things about attending an ‘international’ conference is having access to such a wide and varied global responsible tourism audience. To be able to hear firsthand what people are doing in the field of responsible tourism and how responsible tourism is interpreted by so many was again hugely beneficial. The speaking sessions were fairly short however they were incredibly varied in quality and content. In Oman I not only learnt some really positive things but also learnt a lot about what not to do and the mistakes that people are making. It’s pretty amazing over the course of 3 days to have access to such a wide variety of RT professionals and to learn so much from their individual experiences.

Being an activist – to be able to speak at the conference in Oman to a global audience not only provided me with an opportunity to raise my own profile in the RT field but more importantly provided me with an opportunity to speak about one of my passions – Tourism in UNESCO World Heritage sites. It’s not every day you get an international captive audience with whom you have 30 minutes to be able to influence and encourage change.  In addition we also had the opportunity to influence the key areas of Oman’s RT Policy by attending the brainstorming sessions.

Networking – most of us are super busy that sometimes it’s difficult to expand your professional network globally – we often become regional or country centric and in some cases continent centric. Oman was brilliant in expanding my global network – after 9 years of living and working in Sri Lanka my professional network had become very Sri Lankan centric. Attending the conference in Oman provided the perfect opportunity to meet people from all over the globe and over the course of the 3 days I was able to cement relationships with individuals and organizations that would not have been possible from a distance.

So on that note there was no way I am going to miss RTD5 – I am all booked and ready to attend. I look forward to meeting more of you in Canada.

Libby Owen-Edmunds – Current ICRT Student

For details of  the conference



Bridge over the River Kangaroo

This very short story is about turning adversity (maintenance work on a bridge) into an economic sustainability opportunity.

Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales Australia, is dissected by the Kangaroo River. The only crossing is Hampden Bridge, a timber suspensions bridge, which forms a vital transport link. The Road Traffic Authority had planned to close the bridge four days a week for six months to undertake maintenance work. This would have put tourists off and destroyed the economy of the community which primarily relies on tourism.

By lobbying the authorities we managed to turn things around.

The bridge has significant heritage values being New South Wales’ last surviving suspension bridge of the 19th century. We now talk of RESTORATION not maintenance. We now talk of EXPEREINCE not a bridge. We are now INTEGRATING the concept by taking the original timbers and placing them on sandstone blocks to make benches and an amphitheatre for the COMMUNITY. We now run TOURS so visitors can learn about the engineering feat. We now have a SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE to link the community and visitors and record their sense of place. Perhaps most importantly we have managed to encourage the authorities to formerly acknowledge the heritage values of the bridge and seek State heritage listing. From an original situation of an old quaint bridge in need of repair we are establishing the foundation of a heritage asset that we collectively promote for the economic benefit of all stakeholders. Oh yes and also the authorities have agreed to do the restoration work in the late evenings over a few weeks. Have a look at the site and give me your feedback

Christopher Warren, ICRT Australia