Why sustainability is the future of travel
Tuesday 17 Jul 2018
As ‘overtourism’ quickly becomes the buzzword of 2018, it’s clear that sustainability is no longer optional for the travel industry. A new white paper from one of the world’s leading luxury travel organisations shows that the idea is moving firmly into the mainstream.
The white paper, from industry leader Virtuoso, is entitled Sustainable Tourism: From Trend to Transformative Movement, and takes a holistic look at the idea of sustainability. It identifies three key pillars in its approach: identifying and recognising industry best practice, increasing training for industry staff, and promoting consumer education.
The concept of sustainability has shifted over recent years. Where once it was enough for hotels to minimise the washing of linen or get rid of mini disposable toiletries in their bathrooms, today’s travellers expect more. Virtuoso’s Asia Pacific Managing Director, Michael Londregan, believes “there’s this new idea around sustainability being cultural; are we actually ruining the cultural footprint of where we’re going? And are the cultures and the people that are actually in the places we go being affected? Is that becoming unsustainable?”
It’s a question that the former Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization Taleb Rifai asks as well: “will tourism bring us one billion opportunities to make the world a better place, or one billion disasters?”
The industry must now focus on expanding its understanding of sustainability to encompass environmental, social and cultural factors, as well as actively supporting and promoting operators who work towards this goal. Educating travellers and encouraging sustainable behaviour is essential as their numbers and global reach continues to grow rapidly.
Millennials are firmly in the lead of the new generation of sustainability-focused tourists. Virtuoso found that this group are three times more likely than their counterparts to seek out travel companies that are committed to sustainability. They are the generation who has grown up with modern ideas of environmental impact and cultural sensitivity, and these influence their decisions across a wide range of topics. Millennials have a strong sense of civic responsibility and are more likely than any other group to be interested in giving back to their travel destinations, according to research from Travel, Technology & Solutions group.
Ultimately, sustainable tourism is the way of the future and travel providers must adapt and embrace in order to ensure their survival. They must learn to create products and curate journeys that appeal to the modern environmentally and socially conscious traveller.
PC: Luxico Alkira Eco Retreat