Why Geotourism Fits the Inclusive Tourism Model

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Carte-Blanc.jpgThere are compelling reasons for those who work in Inclusive Tourism to have entered Ashoka Changemakers' 2009 collaborative competition The Power of Place.

One is outlined in the introduction to the entry for the Rolling Rains Report:

Human experience of the "power" of place depends on the quality of attention and the character of interaction (both physical and social.)

Responsible Tourism
sets out guidelines for the proper intention toward place. Geotourism sets out guidelines for the proper sustenance and enhancement of place. The Global Sustainability Criteria for Tourism sets out guidelines for the proper development of place.

Inclusive Tourism
sets out to alert all three that understanding "who" experiences place is essential to creating just and sustainable tourism. It does so by giving voice to the quality of tourist experience from a group who have historically been denied access to tourism - people with disabilities.

Source:
http://geotourism.changemakers.com/en-us/node/21221

Just as there is a very specific definition of the term "Inclusive Tourism" (definition: "the application of the seven principles of Universal Design to the products, services, and policies of the tourism industry at all stages of their lifecycle from conception to retirement and introduction of a replacement") there is also a precise definition for "geotourism":

National Geographic defines geotourism as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place -its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents. Geotourism incorporates the concept of sustainable tourism -that destinations should remain unspoiled for future generations- while allowing for enhancement that protects the character of the locale. Geotourism also adopts a principle from its cousin, ecotourism -that tourism revenue can promote conservation- and extends that principle beyond nature travel to encompass culture and history as well: all distinctive assets of a place.

Source:

http://geotourism.changemakers.com/en-us/geotourism/nominate/16599

The Power of Place Geotourism Challenge has created a public forum for gathering reflections on how and why Inclusive Tourism and Geotourism make complimentary partners. Below are excerpts from the comments that can be found online:


Observations from South Africa:

Scott's project description goes some way to describing what he has dedicated his life to doing, but in no way conveys the absolute enormity of what he has managed to achieve.

He has connected thousands of travellers with disabilities from all over the world to each other, to a knowledge base that he has built up himself, and to the tourism industry. His network spans every time zone and his name, among people in the disability community, brings cries of recognition and more often than not personal memories. He does this all at his own expense of time and money, and more often than not at the expense of his health and personal life. He does it not because he is a "do-gooder", but because he is a man driven by a passion for social justice.

My own personal memory of Scott is from his whirlwind tour of South Africa in February this year. He galvanised the sluggish authorities into action, advised and encouraged wherever and whenever he could, gave invaluable support and recognition to the few ongoing projects that existed for people with disabilities - and proved an excellent, entertaining travel companion.

Among other things, his encouragement and the network of contacts he introduced me to led me to launch the website: www.accessiblecapetown.com. He continues to play a huge role in moving forward the issue of inclusive tourism in South Africa.

A unique man, an invaluable resource, an absolutely vital challenge for the global tourism industry.

Source M. Guy:
http://geotourism.changemakers.com/en-us/node/21222#comment-17628


Observations from New Zealand:

I first came across the Rolling Rains Report when I examined inclusive tourism products here in New Zealand in 2005. Newly blessed with an age-related disability, I was shocked to find during the study that PWDs were inadequately catered for and were not considered a viably sustainable market (see http://www.tppweb.ac.nz/pdf/resreports/disability%20studyv2.pdf )...

On its "About" page, The Rolling Rains Report (RRR) describes itself as a "service to the travel and hospitality industry." It goes on to say that it "provides resources on Inclusive Tourism - a concept arising from the vigor of a global disability community that both enjoys and asserts the right to full social inclusion." But for me, it is much, much more than this.

It is also a beacon to those of us in academia who are working to further local, national, and international well being and sustainability through the development of tourism for people with disabilities (PWDs). The RRR acted as my first guide and source for research into tourism for PWDs, and I still use this and other open-source, collaborative, social networking websites created by Scott on a daily basis to inform my work in Inclusive Tourism.

Source S. Rhodda:
http://geotourism.changemakers.com/en-us/node/21222#comment-18038

Observations from Mexico:

Scott all the time is looking what he can do to help people with disabilities. He´s working to have more accessible destinations. In México, has been very hard change our culture, travel with someone with specials needs, but we are doing and I think we can do more. Everyone can do something, Scott can´t do it along. If each one works with his community, the accessibility will be in all the cities and countries.

www.accesiblemexico.com

Source A. Ramirez :

http://geotourism.changemakers.com/en-us/node/21222#comment-17910


Observations from USA:

Scott's vast network and broad vision of accessibility and social justice are truly reflected in the community that he has brought together through the Rolling Rains Report and TourWatch. At the same time that he has stayed focused on developing his own work, his commitment to social justice spans broadly. He has consulted and helped in the efforts to bring together the disability rights community with other communities, including the workers that provide assistance to travelers with disabilities. This has been extremely helpful for these groups that may not have historically worked together, to develop a better understanding of the different facets of struggle for our communities, in order to advance progressive policies that benefit those who often get overlooked in the tourism industry.

Source A. Le:

http://geotourism.changemakers.com/en-us/node/21222#comment-17779


Observations from Brazil

I'm glad to see Scott's effort to make a more decent world by showing us how important it is to care about ourselves and the environment we live. Rolling Rains Report is so fantastic because it talks about life, about reality, about points of view and not only, it is hard reading it without leading to a deeper reflection of how could we become a better citizen.

Source M. Coelho:

http://geotourism.changemakers.com/en-us/node/21222#comment-17759



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