‘Green hushing’ joins green washing in hampering responsible tourism choices

‘Green hushing’ joins green washing in hampering responsible tourism choices

It’s not only green washing that is holding back progress on responsible tourism but  

‘green hushing’, a session heard at World Travel Market (WTM) London. 

Some companies making good progress are scared to shout about less than perfect sustainability credentials for fear of a backlash, the so-called ‘tall poppy syndrome’. 

 “Smaller businesses tend to be green hushing, bigger businesses tend to greenwash,” said Xavier Font, professor of sustainability marketing at the University of Surrey. 

 He explained that staff members working on sustainability often say: “we can’t tell the marketing department because they’ll get carried away.”  

 But he added it was better to communicate progress with honesty and help consumers make positive choices than to not talk about it at all.  

 TUI’s sustainable business manager Ian Corbett admitted: “we shied away from talking about things we’ve done in sustainability because we own an airline. Now we’re addressing [the carbon impact of that] and saying ‘this is what we’re doing about it.’” 

 The tour operator is working on consistent labels for accredited sustainability elements across its holidays and using more ‘realistic rather than idealistic’ imagery in its marketing to show interaction between tourists and local communities. 

 Corbett said large companies like TUI had to be prepared to accept some criticism by being public with their sustainability journey, “if we want responsible travel to be the choice of the many rather than the aspiration of the few.”  

 Wolfgang Georg Arlt, professor and CEO of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) said the problem also lay within companies. “It’s not only the external marketing but the internal marketing. People don’t really understand what this is all about… [Sustainability is] being discussed at management level but it’s not really trickling down to those talking to customers.”  

 Sustainability messages can be more valuable at the point of sale agreed Tim Williamson, director of Responsible Travel. He explained that although all of the company’s 6,000 or so holidays have good sustainability credentials this is not what brings most customers to its website.   

 “Looking at our search terms, they’re looking for experiences, they’re looking for amazing times. When [the sustainability message] kicks in is the conversions, when it comes to actual bookings.” 

 Encouraging others to integrate sustainability across their companies he said: “we could have easily gone on the campaigning route but we chose to go down a route that shows you can easily make money from responsible travel.”  

 Williamson added: “start to be honest about what you’re doing and please avoid all claims around carbon neutrality and carbon positivity, they will be seen through.” 



Photography from WTM shows is available to download via the following link: https://wtm.mediafiler.net/wtm/start/index

World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents. The events are:

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. The show facilitates business connections for the global (leisure) travel community. Senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating travel industry contracts.

Next live event: Monday 7 to 9 November 2022 at ExCel London and 6-8 November 2023 at ExCel London.  http://london.wtm.com/

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 30th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2022 attracted over 23,000 visitors and hosted over 30,000 participants including 1,500 exhibitors and attendees from 150 countries, across 10 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #ATMDubai

Next in-person event: Monday 1 to Thursday 4 May 2023, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai


Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2023. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ILTM Arabia, ARIVAL Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, ITIC, GBTA Business Travel Forums, as well as ATM Travel Tech. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country forums.


WTM Latin America takes place annually in the city of São Paulo and attracts around 20,000 tourism professionals during the three-day event. The event offers qualified content together with networking and business opportunities. In this its ninth edition – there have been eight face-to-face events along with a 100% virtual one, which was held in 2021 – WTM Latin America continued to focus on effective business generation, and achieved the advance booking of six thousand meetings that were held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors in 2022.

Next event: Monday April 3rd to Wednesday 5th April 2023 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil


WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.  In 2022, WTM Africa facilitated more than 7 thousand unique pre-scheduled appointments, an increase of more than 7% compared to 2019 and welcomed more than 6 thousand visitors (unaudited), the same number as in 2019.

Next event: Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 April 2023 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town http://africa.wtm.com/

About ATW Connect:  Africa Travel Week’s digital arm, is a virtual hub packed to the seams with interesting content, industry news and insights, and the opportunity to hear from experts on a variety of topics in our new monthly webinar series. All with the aim to keep all of us in the travel and tourism industry connected. ATW Connect focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology.


WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub. https://hub.wtm.com/

About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. www.rxglobal.com


RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

*Note: Current market capitalisation can be found at http://www.relx.com/investors

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