Conversations at trade events for our industry have been gravitating most towards three areas – digitalisation, manpower pains, and sustainability. Naturally, these three topics were top of my mind when it came to planning the theme for our year-end special issue.
It is sustainability that I chose to eventually build our content on because the topic is divisive. There remain opinions that the travel and tourism industry isn’t as responsible as it claims to be; that travel buyers actually still care more about pricing and value than their emissions, and consumer intention studies showing strong desires for responsible travel are skewed by response bias.
Despite these dampers, it is clear that our industry is shifting towards more responsible actions. Travel and tourism suppliers are making responsible travel options more visible, to serve conscious travellers as well as to educate fence sitters about better options. They are scrutinising their internal processes as well as that of their partners to ensure goals are aligned.
They are broadening their sustainability view to consider more than just energy usage and waste reduction; they are paying attention to matters like community support and development, gender parity, and culture preservation.
At a higher level, governments are making clear their sustainability plans and establishing nation-wide roadmaps to get both the public and private sectors moving in the same direction. Such roadmaps will guide tourism developments too, benefiting the society and the environment.
The accusation that the very act of travel is detrimental to the environment remains loud. Yet, putting an end to travel is an extreme solution. The disruption of global travel for more than two years lays bare the important contribution it brings to economic and social activities.
Travel must continue, it must be done responsibly, and it is already happening.