Tourism is today one of the sectors most affected, in proportion and in duration, by the global health crisis that has been spreading since the beginning of 2020. This violence has increased the many questions that have been addressed to the sector for several years now, given the harmful effects, both human and environmental, that some of its behaviours cause in many parts of the planet.
In spite of a discourse towards more "sustainability" in economic activities, particularly in tourism, few concrete achievements have been put in place. The necessary changes and reorientations in tourism practices are slow to emerge in a world where the only prevailing indicator is that of productivity/profitability, whereas the two major challenges facing our world at the beginning of the 21st century are, on the one hand, the constant increase in inequalities and, on the other hand, the need to take into account current and future climatic changes.
Faced with this issue and the challenges mentioned above, what future for the world of tourism in general and in particular for the one that seems to us to be most in line with the previous questions, namely fair and solidarity tourism? Indeed, in a post-crisis perspective, mobility is and will remain a constant for 21st century mankind and the need to travel, to discover, to touch places and actors of different worlds of which we are overwhelmed with images and evocations, should continue if not increase very strongly given the growth of the middle classes in emerging countries, the global ageing of the population and the increased ease of connection.
In addition to this mobility, there is a growing trend to get off the beaten track of industrial tourism and move towards a tourism of encounters, sharing original experiences and discovering other cultures. However, this need for mobility and another kind of tourism must be strongly oriented towards journeys with proven positive effects both in terms of economic and human development and in terms of environmental protection.
In France, the notion of fair and solidarity tourism appeared and developed in the movement of fair trade at the end of the 90s. Indeed, the combination of the highlighting of field actions carried out by various NGOs and actors of alternative tourism, with the greater involvement of institutions in more responsible tourism and support for fair trade, has allowed the emergence of the theme and its actors. This
emergence, led by the National Union of Tourism and Outdoor Associations (UNAT) and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs led to the creation of the Association of Fair and Solidarity Tourism (Association du tourisme équitable et solidaire-ATES) in 2006, bringing together tour operators and actors involved in the implementation with their partners, mostly from developing countries, of a tourism offer that meets the criteria of fair trade and international solidarity.
In line with fair trade, which aims to rebalance commercial relations between producers and consumers, the FST seeks to enable populations far from tourist circuits to benefit from this activity, usually in addition to agricultural or craft activities. To do this, French operators co-construct the stays with their local partners with the aim of a fair remuneration and a balanced commercial relationship. In addition, the FST encourages a majority use of local service providers in order to inject the largest possible share of the price paid by the traveller into the local economy.
The FST is fully in line with the vision and implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) promoted by international bodies. While its actions directly concern objectives 8, decent work and economic growth and 12, responsible consumption and production, its effects and impacts on populations and territories also concern objectives 1, poverty reduction, 4, quality education, 10, reduced inequalities and 17, partnerships for the achievement of these objectives. The characteristics of the FTS, its values and its modus operandi make it a direct actor contributing to the resilience of the local communities of the territories in which it is immersed, particularly in its capacity to diversify the economies of these territories in developing countries where it is mainly active. This complement that it brings to rural populations is measured by improvements in income, the effects of which are visible both in better material living conditions and in greater access to education for their children. Many other impacts are measured such as the strengthening of the role of women in communities, the enrichment of the skills of the various actors throughnumerous training courses and contacts, the implementation of ecological technical solutions in the fields of energy or agriculture, intercultural exchange, knowledge and recognition of the other, the positive effects of which can be seen in both the host and the traveller.
The FST, as its name suggests, is part of the logic of fair trade, which helps to reduce inequalities in global value chains. The characteristics of fair tourism, based on a very strong partnership between actors in the destination territories and tour operators in the sending countries, sometimes even including the travellers themselves, in a most transparent relationship, highlighting human exchanges and economic benefits, make this tourism niche a model to be promoted in this context of evolution of the activity in the face of the challenges mentioned above. While travel within the framework of the FST is still a contributor to global warming, given the need to use air transport to reach often distant destinations, the FST players are campaigning for, on the one hand, requiring sufficiently long journey times while minimising local greenhouse gas emission actions and, on the other hand, being able to measure the carbon impact of travel in order to consider possible reductions or even mitigation actions.
In the context of the search for greater fairness in value chains, the FST, represented in France by the ATES ( Association pour le Tourisme Equitable et Solidaire), like its elders in Fair Trade, is developing in France and in Europe a new offer that can respond in part to the issues related to inequalities and climate change. The current crisis is challenging us on strategies for ever stronger growth leading us towards natural and societal changes that will have a strong impact on us. The quantitative, especially in the context of tourism, must be banished, to focus on the qualitative, highlighting the specificity of territories (which cannot be relocated...!) and their inhabitants. The FST is fully in line with this qualitative approach and its spread across many territories must be supported both by the public players concerned and by the populations and, above all, travellers.