I rarely talk about the sustainability and environmental challenges in the travel and tourism industry as I do not feel I have enough knowledge to contribute and I certainly do not have enough time to wade through the huge mountain of articles and content that has been written about it.
However, it is a subject that none of us should ignore, so I wanted to share a few current thoughts.
The current strategy from global governments into scaring people into changing habits is not working. It is a busted flush and it will not work.
From a recent New York Times article:
“Just 1% of voters named climate change as the most important issue facing the country, far behind worries about inflation and the economy. Even among voters under 30, the group thought to be most energized by the issue, that figure was 3%.”
This is bad as the urgency is now today, not sometime in the future. The travel industry is churning out endless articles and reports saying how important it is on guests decision making but I am just not seeing that and I would love to see hard data that confirms we have a swing at scale of guests booking with environmental and sustainability as top of mind.
So how to we go about changing this?
Start by rethinking messaging.
Stop scaring people and telling potential guest how bad the challenges are and what we are doing to make it worse. Start producing content that includes good news stories about how travel experiences and incorporating sustainability at their core and getting rave review from guests.
Tour operators are in a sector of the travel industry that can lead on this. Many other sectors like transportation, hotels, cruise etc. are going to have to invest billions in new tech to address the challenges but as tour operators we can all make real changes by taking many, constant small steps.
This is the most important challenge to the travel industry, much more so than the pandemic. It is a challenge tour operators can lead on and we should all take this opportunity.