Tourism contributes towards a flourishing community when the balance between the added value and detrimental impact of tourism on the place, residents, entrepreneurs and visitors is monitored. In this context, Professor van den Borg talks about the carrying capacity of the community and the place.
Taking care of what’s around you
Connected with other parties and aware of the impact on the environment, everyone is positively committed to the community and takes responsibility for their (physical) place. But does everything need to change at once? ‘Il faut cultiver son jardin’ wrote Voltaire. Let's do what we can do to bring about change and improvements in the world and start close to home; let's start with our own gardens. What can we do ourselves? Where is it happening already?
Taking responsibility is: engagement in both word and deed …
“When Koen De Weerdt, director of holiday company Vayamundo, talks about his passion, we feel a huge sense of respect for him. Equality and diversity are not just hollow concepts; they are the day-to-day terms that refer to realising the right to a holiday. As a result of the well thought through design, their building is quite literally open to all, even if you have a disability. And, once inside, everyone is warmly welcomed, without distinction. A limited budget? With an all-in pricing format, you’ll never have any unpleasant surprises. And it's not just tourists who are welcome. Local associations can use it for meetings and local traders can sell their products. In short, Vayamundo knows how to apply a contemporary vision of social tourism, with huge appreciation for the historical roots, at the same time.”
Eva Vynckier, Network EveryoneDeserves a Holiday
… and ambitious work on what is future-focussed and sustainable
“Against all expectations, I was surprised by the ‘Village Nature’ concept presented by Euro Disney and Pierre&Vacances-Center Parcs. Not far from Paris they and their partners have built and are running an eco-resort where environmental-friendliness is the priority. It is really interesting how mass tourism can be organised in a sustainable manner and how they have tried to keep the ecological footprint of the holiday park to an absolute minimum.”
Mia Lammens, VisitFlanders
“Center Parcs and Sunparks Belgium are also taking their responsibilities and signing up to corporate social responsibility. They have a range for people with low income, also value sustainable forestry, welfare on the work floor and giving opportunities to youngsters from vulnerable families so that they can move on to the regular labour market.”
Carine Geboers, Network Everyone Deserves a Holiday
“The above example makes me think of my visit to Thon Hotel EU in Brussels. That hotel surprised me too, with activities relating to corporate social responsibility. This hotel has chosen to reduce its ecological footprint and work on sustainable food, with its use of local and fairtrade products. It is also an inclusive workplace.”
Kristof Lataire, Kapittel
“In Palau, a small island group in Oceania, you may only visit once you have signed a contract to say that you won't create any waste and that you are committed to not polluting the island. This is a powerful statement. Tourists are thus committed to take care for the place they are visiting. Simultaneously, a link is made between the visitors and the host. It is terrible that Palau was recently hit by a tsunami. Hopefully, the residents will find the resilience they need and also be offered the required help.”
Elke Dens, VisitFlanders