Taking responsibility for sustainability is now a business imperative

Taking responsibility for sustainability is now a business imperative

Recent research published by TUI clearly shows that consumers expect the industry to take responsibility for ensuring that their product is sustainable. Research by booking.com found that 87% of global travellers say they want to travel sustainably, and nearly four in 10 (39%) say they often or always manage to do so. However, 48% said that they never, rarely or only sometimes manage to travel sustainably. As booking.com points out, this suggests “that while promising strides are being made for a greener future, there is still plenty of room to turn intentions into action.” Sustainability is the aspiration; it is an opportunity

The Responsible Tourism sessions at draw larger audiences and more senior speakers each year. Responsible Tourism is increasingly recognised as a business imperative, contributing to the bottom line by reducing costs and securing market advantage.

Now senior figures in the industry are following TUI’s example and recognising their responsibility for ensuring that the sector is sustainable – it is in their enlightened self-interest, but it has taken a while for them to realise that the problems cannot be left to others to address. CNBC is reporting that consumers in the US are becoming more concerned about sustainability, it is a significant, and growing issue in increasing numbers of source markets.

Carnival Corporation chief executive Arnold Donald has said that Travel industry leaders should “listen very carefully” to complaints of ‘over-tourism’ by local communities, acknowledging that Venice is “overrun” and that “a bit of regulation” would help.

Gavin Tollman, chief executive officer of Trafalgar Tours,  “Each and every one of us has a duty to preserve destinations for future generations. As an executive in the travel industry, I firmly believe this awareness needs to be a basic component in how we run our businesses.” He went on to emphasise the importance of attracting the right type of tourists – people who understand, embrace and appreciate the places they visit, not those who travel to tick items off their bucket lists. He  argues that “Tourism needs to add to the economic long-term sustainability of the places we visit, it cannot simply be a drain on resource and local infrastructure with limited or no local contribution.

One way to stand out from the crowd is to be recognised in the World Responsible Tourism Awards – they are now open for applications, deadline August.


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Harold is WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor, he puts together the flagship Responsible Tourism programme at WTM London which attracted 4000 participants in 2020 and the programmes run at WTM Africa, WTM Latin America and Arabian Travel Market. Harold has worked on 4 continents with local communities, their governments and the inbound and outbound tourism industry. He is Managing Director of the Responsible Tourism Partnership and chairs the panels of judges for the World Responsible Tourism Awards and the other Awards in the family, Africa, India and Latin America. Harold works with industry, local communities, governments, and conservationists and undertakes consultancy and evaluations for companies, NGOs, governments, and international organisations. He is also a Director of the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is an Emeritus Professor, and Founder Director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism promotes the principles of the Cape Town Declaration which he drafted.

One comment

  1. So they stop flying, of course – and bicycle or use e/hybrid cars.
    Sustainability has nothing to do with over-tourism, unless you’re measuring profit. Sustainability has to do with whether we have a world . . 100 years from now. But I guess of you don’t care about your grandchildren (or, if you don’t have any, other peoples’ grandchildren) nothing much matters!

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