Tourism needs to shine green

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BANGKOK, 10 May 2018: You could call it a reality check; a wake up call for the tourism industry to rethink its response to climate change.

The latest report on battling carbon emissions places more blame at the door of tourism that we might have expected. See: TTR Weekly Tourism the carbon culprit

Possibly, we assumed tourism was part of the solution rather than a culprit contributing to global warming.

Sustainable tourism is often depicted as the way forward, but the most recent studies show that it will take considerably more than a niche market activity to green today’s tourism industry.

Calculating the impact of domestic and international tourism worldwide, the tourism industry accounts for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s four times more than previously estimated.

Tourism’s carbon footprint is expanding rapidly, driven by demand for energy-intensive air travel.

We are talking about 7.8 billion people taking flights annually by 2036 double today’s volume.

US continues to be the single largest emitter of tourism-related carbon emissions followed in second place by China, but Germany, Canada and Britain are also on the list that includes  India, Mexico and Brazil.

Aviation accounts for 2% of all human-generated C02 emissions, and would rank 12th if it was a country.

We all love to travel and a holiday often takes precedent over all other consumer spending or activities.

But it is incorrect to assume tourism is automatically a solution, a clean activity that aids conservation and leads to a greener and cleaner world.

The tourism industry needs to do much more to green it image. Leaders in tourism at every level need to make a clear commitment in practical terms to reduce carbon emissions and the use of plastic that is clearly a massive threat.

There is plenty of talk and rhetoric. What we need is more practical measures that will lead the tourism industry and travellers globally to reduce waste and the use of plastic.

The cruise line expedition specialist, Hurtigruten, should be praised for its decision to outlaw plastic products on its cruises starting this July.

Major hotels groups – the big three Accor, Marriott and IHG – could do more to eliminate plastic use in the thousands of hotels they manage around the world.

Why are hotels stocking their mini-bars with plastic bottled soft drinks and water?  We have to start somewhere and the leaders must be the major corporations and associations, the icons of tourism globally, rather than leaving it to small enterprises that grind out a living from preaching and living out green credentials.