COVID-19: More news and calls for help from our LT&C-Examples

The present Corona-times imply significant challenges for the entire tourism sector, including our members, who stay behind our important 39 LT&C-Examples. On the other hand, times also provide prospects that the governments and others in the world will have to put much more emphasis focusing on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they all had agreed already in 2015. That means much more focus on those types of tourism, which support SDGs. From our perspective, the highest priority should go to the biodiversity SDGs 14 & 15, respectively related forms of tourism. Therefore, LT&C has to play an even more critical role. We need to raise an increasing discussion with our LT&C-Example providers, how their essential work can be secured, upscaled and replicated.

Nature is sending us a message, says UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen. “There are too many pressures at the same time on our natural systems and something has to give,” she added. “We are intimately interconnected with nature, whether we like it or not. If we don’t take care of nature, we can’t take care of ourselves. And as we hurtle towards a population of 10 billion people on this planet, we need to go into this future armed with nature as our strongest ally.”

The providers of LT&C-Examples have shown in all corners of the world how tourism can support nature conservation. Now they are themselves challenged, and the crisis is putting at risk effective protected area management. However, it is also a time to take a step back and rethink tourism on a more strategic level and to strengthen the case for sustainable tourism, which supports conservation of nature (SDGs 14 & 15).

As LT&C recently reached out to all their LT&C-Example providers, we increasingly receive responses with urgency for help. Here is the message from the LT&C-Example Chumbe Island Coral Park.

Chumbe Island Coral Park is the LT&C-Example of ecotourism supporting conservation, research and environmental education at the world’s first Private Marine Park

From the North of the United States, we are receiving the message from the ongoing battle to safe the LT&C-Example Boundary Waters: Protecting the Boundary Waters during the COVID-19 Pandemic

From the LT&C-Example Jackson Hole & Yellowstone Sustainable Destination Program, Timothy O’Donoghue has sent us a slightly more optimistic message: “ In short, similar to the rest of the world, our destination is shutdown.  The central attraction here is our two national parks:  Yellowstone and Grand Teton.  They are projected to reopen on May 22 which is to say that is when people, primarily from within the U.S., will start to arrive.  This is normally the time of year when the parks and surrounding national forest are closed anyway, primarily to give wildlife and their habitat a rest and for the snow to be cleared from the roads.
The primary concern is how the restrictions will be eased and over what time.  The state of Wyoming is in a much better position than other states since the impact of coronavirus has been less so far.

Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Paul Racko

And for our German-speaking audience, we like to forward the latest Newsletter of the Schutzstation Wattenmeer, the most important conservation-education organisation for the LT&C-Example Wadden Sea. They urgently need help!

https://archive.newsletter2go.com/?n2g=rdpntdvb-tvjc8pkg-oxy
Photo: Martin Stock: “Meerlandschaften

LT&C Annual General Meeting will still take place May 20, but remotely by using Zoom

Due to the circumstances with COVID-19, LT&C had to change its original plans to have the 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) together with a workshop on ecotourism in Slovakia. As we have informed earlier, the ecotourism workshop has been preliminarily postponed to September 17/18, 2020.

The AGM is still planned to take place May 20, 2020, but members interested to take part can do this only remotely by Zoom. 

Only the Board members Ottar Nakken and Peter Prokosch, and possibly very few members from Arendal, will meet physically in the LT&C offices at Torgata 7 in Arendal, Norway, and will conduct the meeting from there. The Meeting Agenda you find here: LT&C AGM 2020 Draft Agenda.

LT&C-Members, which are interested to participate, need to register by using the below contact form, by May 10.  Those registered participants will then receive further documents and the Zoom-link for the meeting. Particularly invited are our members with voting rights (King- and Emperor Penguins). Those will also get information on how to use during the meeting a voting tool called Menti – https://www.menti.com. They will receive a code with which they can connect to the presentation where they can vote. The tool visualises all responses in real-time and makes it easy for us to make decisions remotely.

If you are interested to participate at the AGM by Zoom, register here and

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Can 2020 still become the year where the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity culminates? – Putting in Corona times a priority on biodiversity-supporting tourism can be one way

Three major biodiversity congresses were on plan for 2020, and now all have to be postponed due to COVID-19: the World Wilderness Congress (in March in India), the IUCN World Conservation Congress (in June in France) and COP15 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD; in October in China). They all aimed to look at conclusions of the UN Decade on Biodiversity. What did we achieve during the decade of 2010-2020, meant to reduce biodiversity loss and to support and promote the implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets? – LT&C aims to make tourism an increasing supporter of the Aichi target 11, meaning getting at least 17% of the land and 10% of the oceans protected. We were, therefore, looking at the 195 governments, the Parties of the CBD, which planned to meet for their COP15 in Kunming, China, in October 2020. What did they achieve in the past decade? Which are the leading countries doing best? Which new goals will be decided for the protection of the global biodiversity to be reached by 2030 and beyond? What about the #30×30 campaign to protect 30% of the world on land and sea? And what about, if 30% in some cases may not even be enough?

Governments, which put out enormous financial support to the tourism industry for surviving the Corona-crisis, may prioritise those businesses, which have a proven history of supporting the protection of biodiversity.

If 2020 should still become the “Super Year for Biodiversity”, despite being the year of the Corona-crisis, a new focus is essential on those sectors of society, which play a supportive role in the Global Goals on biodiversity. Tourism has a significant potential to play that role as much of the business is based on nature and depends on biological diversity. And as shown by the LT&C-Examples, there are increasing cases to be detected, where that works. Our global network of members with expertise in both realms, tourism and conservation, aims to identify, promote, analyse, support, replicate and upscale LT&C-Examples of tourism supporting protected areas and conservation of biodiversity, and call for commitments of tourism networks and business associations towards this goal. We are thereby working with CBD Parties, its Secretariat and business networks to make tourism an implementing force for protected area-related goals.

The tourism industry is not only one of the biggest economies of the world, but at present also one of the most hard-hit by the Corona-crisis. It is, therefore, a question, when Governments provide stimulus packages, to ask which kinds of tourism benefit the future we want and therefore deserves help. Regarding biodiversity protection and the related Global Goals, we are, of course, most concerned upfront about the survival of the LT&C-Example providers and our members involved in tour operations in support of LT&C-Examples. They, from the perspective of protecting an essential asset for the Global Goals, deserve help from governments and others first in the sector.

Red Rocks Initiatives recovery planning for a more sustainable future

Red Rocks Initiative Rwanda, founded by Emperor Penguin Greg Bakunzi, is a non-profit community-based organization that is dedicated to integrating tourism and conservation for sustainable community development in the Virunga massif region’s development agenda. He is the provider of three LT&C-Examples, and two years ago his engagement was awarded by Green Destinations as “Best of Africa“. It is the organization’s mission to enhance the standards of living of the local communities through trade in their talents, art, music, and cultural diversity.

Amidst the current crisis, we asked our LT&C-Example providers how they are affected by the current situation, what measures they are taking and if they have a certain message they would like to share. Thus, Greg Bakunzi has shared Red Rocks Initiatives’ vision on recovery planning for a sustainable future within the region:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to bring carnage on earth, devastating many communities with the outbreak felt all over the globe, this widespread crisis is now both a health and humanity challenge calling for rapid responses. Now, to tackle the catastrophe, and later on, to ensure we are prepared for the aftermath, which includes social and economic dimensions that will be caused by the crisis.

While COVID-19 is causing a huge impact across all industries, the tourism & hospitality sector is experiencing a greater impact to date given travel restrictions, event cancellations and overall risk related to travel internationally and domestically. But despite the fact that our community is going through the immediate impacts, it’s time to also think about the future and what our recovery plans or strategies should be for our community.

Many community members in the area depend on cultural tourism for additional income. Photo: Red Rocks Initiative

As tourism numbers are now totally down, the Red Rocks Initiative is embracing a re-approach program, committed to supporting our community bounce back through a relief and response campaign. The concept is based on the belief that we shall only be able to pioneer growth by putting people first. Our plans aim to start off with skills training and also teach individuals who will be left without work post the COVID-19 crisis. We are digging deep into providing more comprehensive job support, such as hands-on life skills such as bakery, housekeeping skills, and tourist guiding. We hope this will help us retain our employees after retraining them and can also encourage other community cooperatives, businesses, and social enterprises to pursue the same course to re-position themselves and capture growth when the situation improves.

The Initiative is looking at starting up cooperative member training for targeted and specific groups, plus workshops for the local population to equip people post the pandemic. By putting people at the forefront of our work, we can together rebuild our society and allow for both social and economic gradual growth at a community level.

Many of our cooperative members have had to cut down production affecting many female weavers and local artisan groups engaged in handmade or souvenir products production shut down completely – the virus has put many jobs at risk and our aim is to find new opportunities for the affected community members.

Despite having no certainty on when COVID-19 lockdown measures will be relaxed across the world and particularly in our village as a travel destination, one thing we can control in the immediate future on how to prepare for recovery. The Red Rocks Initiatives for sustainable development is optimistic that once the outbreak is under control, it would take joining efforts together as a global village and fight the struggle caused by COVID-19 by acknowledging that we are not alone. It’s through cooperation that we can return to normal lives and tourism has shown an unparalleled ability to lead wider societal recovery, driving back our economic growth by creating jobs and transforming lives.”

Making the case for a sustainable tourism industry – Helpful resources for tourism stakeholders during this time of crisis

As tourism has come to a halt globally, this is having fundamental effects on all of our fellow penguins and LT&C-Examples in all corners of the world. It is an economically challenging time and the crisis is putting at risk effective protected area management, especially in terms of funding crucial activities, such as anti-poaching patrols. However, it is also a time to take a step back and rethink tourism on a more strategic level and to strengthen the case for sustainable tourism.

Many great resources are appearing across the internet, many of which highlight the importance of sustainable tourism in reviving the industry and creating more resilient and innovative destinations.

We want to take a first step here to list some of the handbooks, articles, inspiring examples and innovative crisis responses that we have found. Feel free to share more resources or ways how you are dealing with the crisis via the contact form below. Now more than ever it is important to connect with fellow LT&C penguins and to work together to support, strengthen and revive those tourism examples which directly support biodiversity and the related Global Goals, as described in our recent article.

Competition

UNWTO calls for innovators and entrepreneurs to submit ideas that can help the tourism sector mitigate the impact of the pandemic and kickstart recovery efforts.  (deadline 10 April 2020): https://www.unwto.org/healing-solutions-tourism-challenge

Blog

News, stories and resources for a sustainable tourism response to the COVID-19 emergency: https://www.resilientdestinations.com/blog

Guide

A nonprofit survival guide with useful tips on leadership, how to communicate with donors and how to find savings and growth opportunities in these times of crisis: https://www.thebrandedstartup.com/survivalguide

Business advice

Article from LT&C member mascontour: Key considerations for your business in dealing with the crisis: https://www.mascontour.info/en/sustainable-solutions/covid19.html

Survey

Sustainability Leaders conducted a survey on the impacts of the pandemic on the sustainable tourism community and which potential benefits it may bring at a systemic level: https://sustainability-leaders.com/what-corona-pandemic-means-for-sustainable-toursim/

Online get-togethers

The online travel platform Travel Massive is hosting weekly member calls for tourism professionals from around the world to discuss their response to the crisis:  https://travelmassive.com/events/2020/04/live-show-6

Group calls

The Long Run offers weekly Corona group calls for its members to discuss marketing, booking and other relevant matters and exchange experience among members in these challenging times.

List of resources

Anna Spenceley, chair of the IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group published a list of articles and resources: https://annaspenceley.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/covid-19-and-sustainable-tourism/

Communication videos

Many destinations have responded to the crisis by publishing (video) messages of hope and resilience, such as:

Namibia

Namibia – Endless Horizons

Publisert av Namibia Tourism Board Lørdag 28. mars 2020

South Afrika

Scotland

Portugal

Do you know of any other examples or initiatives to share knowledge, hope, and support? Please let us know!

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Seychelles: 30% Ocean Protection Goal reached – Interview with Helena Sims from The Nature Conservancy

What the governments of the world as parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) may soon decide as a goal for 2030, to protect 30% of their marine and terrestrial territories, Seychelles has already met this target, and implementation starts in 2021. As The Nature Conservancy reports, the Government of Seychelles has announced the final details of Marine Protection Areas to reach its goal to protect 30% or 410,000 sq. km (158,000 sq. miles) of its ocean. 

Diana Körner, our Board member and author of the LT&C-Example “Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation (SSTF)” had the opportunity to interview Helena Sims, Project Manager from The Nature Conservancy for the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan Initiative, about this great success story. The SSTF has been following the marine spatial planning process over the years, with its chair Daniella Payet-Alis being part of the MSP Steering Committee and of the MSP Technical Working Group for Tourism, and sees this as a fundamental milestone for sustainable tourism and conservation in Seychelles, achieved through a multi-stakeholder consultation approach. 

Helena, congratulations on this big achievement. Please tell us more about the significance of designating 30% of your EEZ as a MPA for Seychelles?

The Marine Protection Areas are a key part of the new Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan that covers the second-largest area of ocean in the world (after one in Norway) and is the largest plan for tropical waters to account for both conservation and climate change. Designating 30% of its marine area by 2020 means Seychelles has tripled the UN Convention of Biological Diversity target for 10% by 2020 in marine protected areas, and the UN Sustainable Development Goal SDG-14 for 10% coastal and marine protection.

Beyond the Marine Protection Areas, the Marine Spatial Plan as a whole also covers how Seychelles’ remaining 70% of the ocean is addressed in terms of increasing management of all marine resources, regulatory attention, and unified government oversight of all activities that take place to support the country’s Blue Economy.

The announcement of the protection areas delivers on a ‘debt-for-conservation’ deal that Seychelles signed with The Nature Conservancy in February 2016, the first such deal for marine conservation in the world.

Could you explain to us the process involved in reaching this major milestone?

Designation of the Marine Protection Areas and the drafting of ‘allowable activities’ followed perhaps the most comprehensive process of consultation of its kind in Seychelles, to ensure the largest number and diversity of people, businesses, and institutions provided information and input, and ultimately their support, to the planning. More than 200 consultations with Seychelles’ citizens, scientists, and key businesses guided the process which started in 2014.

What is the importance of tourism in relation to existing and new MPAs in Seychelles?

With fisheries and marine-based tourism being the two pillars of the country’s economy, the ocean is central to Seychelles’ development and for the future generations to come.  A Marine Spatial Plan is needed to manage conservation and direct sustainable development and climate change adaptation in Seychelles. By taking account of scientific studies that show how well-designed and effectively-managed marine reserves are more resilient to climate change because the pressure is reduced on each ecosystem component, Seychelles is taking precautionary measures to best position its environment and economy for the long term.

The MSP Core team worked in consultation with tourism representatives of Seychelles, such as the chair of the SSTF, to seek input on existing tourism activities, priority areas, and potential future directives to inform the zoning design. Over the last six years over 250 stakeholder consultation meetings were held to propose and discuss new marine protected areas and allowable activities in and management considerations for these areas.

Photo: Jason Houston

Do you have any words of advice for other countries, wanting to replicate this step of protecting large parts of their (ocean) territory?

The Nature Conservancy is proud to have partnered with Seychelles to facilitate this work and is committed to supporting 20 countries over the next 5 years to help complete their conservation, sustainability, and climate change goals.  Jointly, there are many lessons we can share with other ocean states.

Photos: Left to right: Camerapix, Hagai Svulun, Jason Houston