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Staycations soared during the pandemic, but is staying at home the only way to holiday responsibly?

During the pandemic Dr Peter Robinson, Head of the UK Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Management at Leeds Beckett, has appeared on TV talking about the increased demand for staycations. But, as travel restrictions ease, is taking a holiday in your home country the only way to protect the planet and have a great break?

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Peter Robinson

Making responsible decisions about how to travel and where to travel to for your holiday is complicated. The type of transport that is used, the length of stay, and the activities undertaken all play a part in assessing the impacts of individual tourist activities.

How you will get to your holiday location is just one of many important factors to consider. “People often think that sustainable tourism is just about the natural environment, and we tend to focus on the method of travel, but it’s far more complex than that”.

Tourism, at all stages of the customer journey, has an impact on the people and places that we visit. Does tourism spend allow other local problems to be solved? Are historical buildings being brought back to life? Are communities able to celebrate and share their culture? What about animal welfare?

Action to take

As Peter explains, access to information is key to empowering individuals to make good choices.

People walking down to a beach

"We really need it to be easy for consumers to research the places they plan to visit, the tour operators they plan to travel with and the activities they want to take part in. In many economies tourism is vital for communities to thrive, and simply choosing a staycation is not necessarily the answer, nor is it necessarily the most sustainable option."

“Does local community benefit from the tourism? Is demand damaging precious sites? Is the company you are travelling with ethical and carrying out projects to support the environment? Do they treat staff well?

“I’d like to see individuals actively researching their planned holiday in this way, and then weighing up the positive and negative impacts before making a decision”.

want a sustainable holiday?

If so, here are some things to consider:

  • Does the community need money from tourism?
  • Is the physical environment already damaged by too many visitors?
  • Are you spending money outside the resort to help smaller local businesses?
  • Is the travel company ethical?
  • Are suppliers of activities ethical?
  • Could you travel without flying?
  • How much will you travel once there, what transport will you use?
  • Is animal welfare protected?
  • Could you take less holidays but for longer periods?
  • Could you mix overseas holidays with staycations?
  • When taking staycations can you use public transport?

Teaching the sustainable tourism leaders of the future

“Sustainable tourism is really all about the long-term management of economic, social and environmental impacts and trying to balance these different priorities. Our students develop their knowledge and their ability to be critical thinkers by working through these issues and making professional judgements; This really helps prepare them for strategic leadership roles in their future careers”

Leeds Beckett’s tourism and hospitality courses are designed to enable our students to develop the knowledge, skills and experience they will need in industry. This means that our courses encompass a breadth of management knowledge, including HR, operations management, marketing, strategy and financial management, as well as the specialist contextualised knowledge that will help them understand and shape the tourism and hospitality sectors. Sustainability and responsibility is embedded across all the modules taught on each of our degree programmes.

Employers frequently comment on the extent to which students are well-informed, critical thinkers who are truly engaged in issues such as sustainability, responsible tourism and other emerging consumer trends.

A Centre of Excellence

Leeds Beckett has been recognised as an international leader in events, tourism and hospitality, ranking in the top 60 globally and we were the first UK university to be recognised by the Institute of Travel and Tourism as a Centre of Excellence.

Our approach to employability allows our students to excel in their professional career. Peter says of our International Tourism Management degree: “The way we work with employers and industry is of huge benefit to our students and is key to them gaining fantastic jobs in leading companies. We have many events and activities which provide amazing opportunities to network with employers, gain practical experience, and develop the confidence and experience which makes them stand out.”

Guest speakers from organisations such as Hilton Hotels & Resort Group, McDonalds and Intrepid Travel are regular fixtures and students take part in a final year consultancy project for real clients such as Café Nero, Jet 2 and Harewood House. Our courses are recognised by professional organisations, which opens up further opportunities for our students to enter national competitions and take part in internships.

Peter has a seat at the top table of professional body organisations including The Institute of Travel and Tourism, The Association for Tourism in Higher Education and The Tourism Management Institute, influencing national policy and debate; he’s even co-authored and edited some of the core textbooks that are used in universities across the world, as well as being published in a number of leading academic journals.

Moving towards more sustainable tourism

“I don’t think the pandemic has reduced demand for overseas holidays,” says Peter, “In fact the longer overseas travel is restricted the more likely there will be a bigger bounce back, but I expect over time we will see staycations becoming a part of more people’s annual holiday plans. ”

“Overseas holidays can be a really positive thing, and I think what we really need is for consumers to seek out more information to make responsible holiday decisions. There’s some great work being undertaken within the tourism sector to be more sustainable, and at Leeds Beckett we are developing the responsible tourism leaders of the future”.

Dr Peter Robinson

Head of Subject / School Of Events, Tourism And Hospitality Management

Before joining Leeds Beckett as Head of the Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Management, Peter worked for ten years at University of Wolverhampton, as a Senior Lecturer in Tourism and Events, then as Head of Leisure and latterly as Head of Marketing, Innovation, Leisure and Enterprise.

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