Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency

Tourism declares logo



For over 20 years I’ve worked on sustainable tourism issues, mainly across Africa and Asia, and with a focus on protected areas.   This work included working with governments, protected area authorities, donors, NGOs, the private sector and local communities – focusing on making conditions for economically, socially, culturally, and environmentally sustainable travel.

While I have a home-office where I do the majority of my research, writing and conference calls (and so have no daily commuting impact), I frequently travel internationally for my consultancy assignments to conduct fieldwork and undertake consultation with local stakeholders.   For example, in 2019 I made 10 international trips for work assignments.   In 2019 I calculated the carbon emissions from my flights going back to 2016, and attempted to use a variety of calculations and tools to work out the best way of offsetting this.  I found it frustrating as the different calculators generate different figures for the number of trees that need to be planted (e.g. see, Trees for the Future Carbon Calculator, and others) or other offsetting options (e.g. purchasing fuel-efficient stoves). Ultimately, I made a decision to contribute to Wilderness Safaris’ Wilderness Wildlife Trust to plant indigenous trees around the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. This reforestation helps to expand the habitat for endangered mountain gorillas and other species.  I have an affinity for offsets that contribute to biodiversity conservation – and would do this again – but I want to improve the reliability of the way I do it. I also realise that offsetting is not a solution in itself.

In the past I’ve also planted indigenous trees myself at homes where I’ve lived, I use the Ecosia web browser (which uses its profits to plant trees), I’ve paid organisations to offset my carbon through carbon calculators, I’ve declined invitations to conferences and meetings, and I’ve tried to combine work and leisure trips to reduce my flights.  Of course I also take the usual domestic actions to reduce emissions (e.g. energy saving light bulbs; turning appliances off when not in use; recycling wherever possible etc.), but I appreciate this is not always possible in places I travel to.

With the Climate Emergency I want to ensure that I am doing enough.  I want a better world for my child, and her children, and for all the other species that share our world with us.  Increasingly I am fearful about the incidences of extreme droughts and floods, animal die-offs, and bush fires across the planet.  I want to contribute tangibly and meaningfully towards the solutions, but realise I don’t have all the answers as to how to do this, and that what I am trying to do is not perfect.

I am signing this declaration and agree to these five Tourism Declares commitments:

  1. Develop a ‘Climate Emergency Plan’
  2. Share my commitment and progress publicly
  3. Cut my carbon emissions in line with IPCC advice (stating the need to cut global carbon emissions to 55% below 2017 levels by 2030 to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming).
  4. Work with others in the travel industry
  5. Advocate for change throughout the travel industry


My plan going forward is has three main parts – reducing my footprint; offsetting my impact; and advocating for change.  I will report on this plan, adapt and improve each year.

Reduce my footprint:

  1. Continue to participate in meetings remotely by conference call wherever possible, to avoid travel.
  2. Encourage others to present at conferences or meetings that I have been invited, where their carbon footprint for attending will be lower than mine.
  3. When I do fly for work or leisure, I will select options that generate lower emissions, including combining multiple-destinations on my trips.
  4. Attend conferences and meetings in person only where my presence can have a meaningful impact by communicating sustainability messages, and when remote participation is not possible.

Offset my impact:

  1. Offset carbon generated by flights for work and recreation, including through reputable offsetting organisations and/or planting trees with institutions I trust such as the Wilderness Wildlife Trust and others.
  2. Include carbon offset allocations for flights within future project budgets, and ensure that my clients are aware of this as a direct project cost.
  3. Continue to preferentially use Ecosia as my web-browser.

Advocate for change:

  1. Continue through my role as Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group to promote knowledge and capacity building to support the network’s members.
  2. Continue to actively contribute as a Board member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, to promote the GSTC criteria and sustainable tourism activities that integrate climate actions.
  3. Continue to work on sustainable tourism assignments on projects that embed climate actions within them, and with clients who are addressing climate change.
  4. Edit a ‘Handbook of applied research tools for sustainable tourism: a guide for practitioners’ that embeds chapters on climate change to share workable and rational step-by-step approaches.
  5. Share this commitment on my blog and other social media sites.
  6. Encourage others in my networks to join the Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency.




Want to declare, too?

Tourism Declares supports tourism businesses, organisations and individuals in declaring a climate emergency and taking purposeful action to reduce their carbon emissions. Visit the Tourism Declares website, and find resources and guidance on how to declare.

Seeking partners for the IUCN World Conservation Congress Exhibition

Screenshot WCC

Through the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group, we are currently preparing for the WCC, which will take place in Marseilles in June 2020. This is the largest global knowledge marketplace for conservation science, policy and practice.

In addition to proposing a series of events during the WCC Forum, we also want to organize 6-days of events on nature-based tourism and associated conservation and livelihood issues during the Exhibition from 12-17 June.   We hope to raise funds to support a dedicated stand during the Exhibition.  If we can secure the sponsorship, we will then be able to design a full program of events, presentations and meetings, and these events will officially be part of the WCC agenda.

We have secured verbal support of sponsorship for about half of the cost of the stand so far and are looking for additional partners to cover the remaining gap (of Euro 40,000 in total).

If your institution would be interested in providing financial sponsorship for a proportion of the cost of the stand, please let me know.

Let me know if you would be keen to discuss this opportunity further. You can also find more information on the IUCN Congress website

Dr Anna Spenceley

Chair, IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group

anna (dot) spenceley (at) gmail (dot) com

Please note – this is not a request for presentation topics for the stand – we need to secure the stand first!

Handbook of applied research tools for sustainable tourism: A guide for practitioners

Screenshot EE logo

Currently in development, this comprehensive Handbook plans to bring together practical advice from leading international practitioners in sustainable tourism. This guidance is not intended as a guide for long-term academic projects, but instead applies good research design principles within the parameters of modest timeframes and resources, to provide workable and rational step-by-step approaches to researching real-life challenges.

The book’s contributors will unpack how to undertake environmental, socio-cultural and economic assessments that establish the feasibility for new tourism ventures, or ascertain what impacts they have had over time. The book will cover the fundamentals for practitioners, such as how to conduct feasibility studies and business plans, and also addresses hot topics such as visitor management and overcrowding, carbon offsets for travellers, and also standards and certification.

This Handbook is envisaged for use by researchers at all levels, and particularly to those working within government institutions responsible for tourism and private tourism businesses. It is also intended also an invaluable resource for practitioners, not-for-profit organizations and consultants that provide technical support in the planning, feasibility, development, operation and evaluation of sustainable tourism.

The book will form part of a new Research Handbooks in Tourism series.

Working Table of Contents

Part 1: Planning and designing sustainable tourism
Policy and strategy development
Tourism master planning for destinations
Commercialization strategies for protected areas
Feasibility studies & business plans for new lodging facilities
Funding proposals for new tourism ventures
Planning for optimal local involvement in tourism and partnership development
Sustainable architecture and landscape design
Predicting returns on investment
Environmental and social impact assessments
Establishing indicators for sustainable tourism

Part 2: Enhancing the sustainability of existing tourism
Supply chain analysis
Value chain analysis
Environmental audits and interventions
Establishing sustainability standards
Market research on the demand for sustainable tourism
Use of the Delphi consultation approach for complex issues

Part 3: Balancing overtourism and undertourism: Visitor management in practice Visitor Use Management Framework
Limits of Acceptable Change
Visitor capacity & overtourism
Willingness to Pay
Carbon offsetting for travellers

Part 4: Monitoring and evaluation
Visitor counting and surveys
Economic impact assessment approaches
Case study research
Social and cultural impact assessment
Tourism certification audits
Knowledge transfer

Part 5: Conclusion

For more information, or to contribute, please contact Dr Anna Spenceley

Revenue sharing from tourism in terrestrial African protected areas: 50 free copies

by Anna Spenceley, Susan Snyman & Andrew Rylance

AbstractJOST cover

A prerequisite for the sustainability of protected areas in Africa is the meaningful inclusion of local populations in conservation and tourism. This has been demonstrated in numerous destinations where communities receive benefits from tourism in terrestrial protected areas, they are more inclined to view it positively and conserve natural resources. This paper presents a review of revenue-sharing literature, and also an analysis of the evidence of quantified benefits accrued by local communities in Africa through institutional arrangements to share revenue or finance development projects by (1) protected areas, and (2) tourism enterprises. The review highlights the challenges of revenue sharing as well as four key components of successful revenue-sharing systems: (1) economic benefits must be clearly identified and communicated, (2) benefits are appropriate to the scale of threats to biodiversity, (3) involvement of communities in decision-making on the structure and process of the distribution system, and also how the revenues are used and (4) sufficient regulatory and institutional support is necessary to develop clear objectives, aims, goals and responsibilities. This paper constitutes the first multi-country, multi-scheme analysis of revenue sharing in terrestrial African protected areas.

Click here for one of the 50 free copies of the article.

Citation: Anna Spenceley, Susan Snyman & Andrew Rylance (2019) Revenue sharing from tourism in terrestrial African protected areas, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27:6, 720-734, DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2017.1401632

Permanent link here.


Decision framework on management models for parks and protected areas

A new paper in the Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, by Anna Spenceley, Sue Snyman and Paul Eagles


There are two categories of management approaches for the delivery of tourism services; insourcing or out- sourcing. This paper presents a decision framework for the choice of a management model for the delivery of tourism-related services in protected areas.

Screenshot Question 1

The research used the expert opinion of 28 PA senior tourism managers from the protected area and tourism authorities of 11 countries in the Southern Africa Development Community to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the use of 5 different management models for the delivery of tourism services:

1) outsourcing to private, profit-making companies
2) outsourcing to a community
3) outsourcing to a nongovernment organization
4) outsourcing to a joint venture company, and
5) insourcing to the PA authority

The comparisons utilized 7 themes:

1) finance
2) tourism operations
3) socioeconomic impact
4) governance
5) risk
6) human resources, and
7) environment and conservation

A total of 190 comparative findings were identified. The 28 senior tourism managers provided comments on the advantages and disadvantages of each management model according to all themes. These comments were summarized into a table of findings.

The research found that all five management models are useful, but the decisions to choose the management model are highly influenced by the current legal and policy structure of the PA authority. This research provides information that can assist PA managers in the decision structure for the choice of and implementation of the various management approaches for the provision of tourism services in protected areas.

This is the first paper of its kind to compare and analyse different management models using literature, research, as well as practitioners’ experience and technical knowledge. Further research on all the models and the different potential options would be useful in providing a greater understanding of all the options to finance protected areas through tourism.

Access here

Available now! Private Sector Tourism in Conservation Areas in Africa

Susan Snyman, Senior Research Fellow, University of Johannesburg 

Anna Spenceley, Honorary Fellow, University of Brighton; Senior Research Fellow, University of Johannesburg

Apr 2019 | 264pp


Private Sector Tourism in Conservation Areas in Africa is the first book to provide a detailed analysis of private sector involvement and partnerships in tourism in Africa. It includes best practices and processes to develop tourism partnerships with the private sector, and highlights important tools to enhance sustainability of tourism in Africa, involving numerous stakeholders.


“Using a rich set of detailed case studies, this volume furnishes the first comprehensive analysis of the role of the private sector in conservation areas. For researchers of tourism, development studies and biodiversity conservation this book is a new and important benchmark in African scholarship.” – Christian M. Rogerson, University of Johannesburg

“This is an impressive book that will make an important contribution to the literature on private-sector involvement in the delivery of tourism services in parks and protected areas in Africa.” – Dr. Paul F. J. Eagles, University of Waterloo

Tourism in Africa’s protected and conserved areas involves partnerships and interactions between numerous stakeholders such as governments, communities, NGOs, the private sector and academics. Through the use of 32 comprehensive case studies from 11 African countries, this book presents guidelines to ensure optimal benefits for stakeholders as well as promoting the sustainability of tourism in Africa. It includes descriptions of the various models for the private sector to engage in tourism in conservation areas in Africa, such as pure private sector ownership, joint ventures, tripartite agreements and government leases. End-to-end coverage of the processes used to develop these partnerships is provided, as well as best practices for the private sector engaging in tourism. The book provides guidance on identifying the most suitable private sector tourism options based on guidelines of conditions and desired outcomes, to promote the long-term sustainability of African tourism in protected areas.

Key features include:

– The first book to provide a detailed analysis of private sector involvement and partnerships in tourism in Africa.
– Includes best practice examples to develop tourism partnerships with the private sector.
– Highlights important tools to enhance the sustainability of tourism in Africa, involving numerous stakeholders.

This book is recommended for academics, students and practitioners working in sustainable tourism, including community, private sector and government stakeholders.

Case studies in the book

Country Lodge/ camp Private Sector Stakeholder/ Company


Vumbura Plains and Little Vumbura Wilderness Safaris
Mombo Camp and Little Mombo Wilderness Safaris
Ethiopia Bale Mountain Lodge Jember Ltd
Simien Lodge Nick Crane
Kenya Satao Elerai Satao Elerai Ltd
Namibia Damaraland Camp Wilderness Safaris
Doro Nawas Camp Wilderness Safaris
Serra Cafema Wilderness Safaris
Wolwedans NamibRand Nature Reserve
Malawi Mkulumadzi Lodge Robin Pope Safaris
Thawale Lodge Sunbird
Mozambique Anvil Bay Chemucane Lodge Chemucane Tourism Company (CTC)
Covane Community Lodge Scholtz Consutoria e servicos Lda
Ndzou Camp Eco-Micaia Lda.
Nkwichi Lodge Nkwichi Lodge
Rwanda Bisate Lodge Wilderness Safaris
Ruzizi Tented Camp Akagera Management Company
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Governor’s Camps
South Africa Pafuri Camp Return Africa
Ngala Main Camp and Ngala Tented Camp &Beyond
Singita Lebombo Singita
Phinda lodges &Beyond
Rocktail Camp Wilderness Safaris
!Xaus Lodge Transfrontier Park Destinations
Witieshoek Lodge Transfrontier Park Destinations
Tanzania Chumbe Island Chumbe Island Coral Park Limited (CHICOP)
Zambia King Lewanika Lodge Norman Carr Safaris
Zimbabwe Davison’s Camp; Little Makalolo; Linkwasha (Hwange camps) Wilderness Safaris


Click these links for either the e-book or hardback editions on Amazon or the hardback from the publisher CABI

Snyman & Spenceley


World Bank Group review of Nature-based tourism tools and resources

WBG logoThe World Bank is committed to tackling the world’s toughest development challenges – especially poverty and inequality. All of our resources – our global development knowledge, investment capital, financial expertise and country presence – are devoted to making the world a more just and prosperous place. Tourism can play an integral role in helping us fulfil this mission.  In many developing countries, tourism promotes inclusive economic growth, creating jobs and attracting foreign investors.

Nature-based tourism is a growing sector and the World Bank is interested to understand what tools and resources are already available to support developing countries plan for and implement sustainable nature-based tourism offerings.

The Nature-Based Tourism (NBT) Community of Practice (CoP), part of the Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice in the World Bank, has commissioned a review of relevant tools and resources to help the World Bank’s staff and clients enhance preparation and implementation of projects that have a NBT component.

We would like to invite to you to contribute to this process, through a short survey, to help ensure that all applicable tools and resources are captured.

The survey should take just 5-10 minutes to complete, and it will be open until 30 April 2019.

To access the survey, click here, or paste this link into your web browser

Please circulate this invitation to others in your networks that may be interested.