Better late than never, this is a belated reminder to everyone that this week, from February 10 to 16, 2014, is Responsible Travel Week, the sixth annual online unconference focusing on responsible travel. It’s free to take part, and there’s no jet lag, as all events occur online and around the world through local events organized by participants. Online, just look for (and use!) the #rtweek14 hashtag.
Responsible Travel Week was launched in 2009 when a Responsible Tourism Conference in Belize was postponed due to the outbreak of the H1N1 flu pandemic. No longer a toddler, RT Week now has a life and meaning all its own, due in large part to the indefatigable support of its host, Planeta.com, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary as one of the web’s oldest and most comprehensive places where people can “share practices of eco-friendly, people-friendly and place-friendly travel.”
In the Words of the Founder
Rather than rephrase or paraphrase the words of Ron Mader, the founder of Planeta.com and inspiration behind this week-long call to responsible arms, I’d like to share his words:
“I call Responsible Travel Week a ‘tentpole’ event as it is an anchor that helps define Planeta.com, bring in new visitors and set the agenda for the coming year. We launched 20 years ago as a Gopher. When commercial websites were available, Planeta.com was set up in 1995. It took just five years to put together our first online e-conference in 2000, when we hosted online conferences focusing on ecotourism in the Americas.
The truth is that online conferencing is make or break depending on the participation of friends, colleagues and complete strangers around the world. While the plethora of social web channels (Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Slideshare, YouTube) brings responsible travel to a wider audience, it can also be intimidating. Speaking as someone who has spent 20 years working with tourism practitioners and government officials, this is nothing new. But digital illiteracy is now very widespread, all the way from mom-and-pop enterprises to academic programs, NGO offices and government institutions. Thus one of the goals of Responsible Travel Week is not only to introduce not only ‘responsible travel,’ but the application of social web channels.
It’s hard to write about what will take place in the future, but we expect to be surprised by original YouTube videos, Slideshare presentations, Flickr albums, Google+ accounts that show responsible travel in action.
Certainly many of these goals are aspirational. We want better travel for a better world. I want to see better conferences and events. Personally, I have conference fatigue. I’m tired of attending events in which speakers read at each other. 2014 is the year for hybrid events in which locals have access and remote participation is encouraged. Please, no more conducting events behind closed doors and then complaining there’s no public support.”
What’s new in 2014?
* There will be new local events in Las Vegas. After more than a decade living in Mexico, Mader is, for the second year, conducting the global unconference from one of the world’s most storied cities, where he will be leading early-morning photosafaris and soundwalks in Henderson parks. Anyone else with ideas, in Las Vegas and anywhere around the world, is encouraged to register the event .
* Increased use of Google+ for Live Hangouts on Air. Now regular RT Week participants can chat directly with one another and with newcomers, including with live Q&A. Tune in on the Responsible Travel Week 2014 Google+ event page.
* Flipboard! Check out the Responsible Travel Flipboard.
* Outbounding. Upvote your favorite RT features on Outbounding, the new community-powered platform identifying and celebrating excellent travel content.