Any government financial support to help the travel industry recover from the pandemic should be linked to sustainable practices, it was argued during this year’s UNWTO, WTTC and WTM Ministers’ Summit.
The comments came during a panel discussion on the Fundamentals for Long-term Growth, Innovation and Sustainability on Monday of WTM Virtual.
Inge Huijbrechts, Radisson Hotel Group’s global senior vice president for responsible business, safety and security said it was governments’ responsibility to ensure that regeneration incentives “should be linked to sustainable investment and stimulus.”
James Thornton, CEO of tour operator Intrepid Travel agreed. “Ultimately climate change will be more devastating if we don’t respond responsibly. There is no vaccine for climate change.”
Thriving tourism and environmental protection were not mutually exclusive pointed out Nigel Huddleston, the UK Government’s minister for sport, tourism and heritage.
“I think you can have economic growth and you can be socially responsible – some national parks around the world wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for tourism – you don’t have to chose one.”
Thornton echoed the sentiment, pointing out that for the last few years the company had enjoyed record profitability hand in hand with the scaling up of its responsibility initiatives. He said there was a consumer appetite for “companies that stand for something.”
Referring to the UK’s goal for net carbon emissions from aviation by 2050, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said that governments needed to help build bridges between aviation and fuel companies. “The technology exists for [clean fuel], we just need to scale it up.”
The panel also discussed health-based technical applications at airports and in hospitality that had been accelerated as a result of the pandemic. QR codes are in greater use and a planned increase in facial recognition at passport controls will further reduce touch points. Ultra violet light is being used to self-clean escalator handrails, elevator buttons, room key cards and utensils.