What do industry professionals need to know about the 'new norm' in tourism? In this article we take a deeper look at 6 sustainable travel statistics. While COVID has upended the $8 trillion global travel industry, the pandemic has also paved the way for tourism and hospitality professionals to reflect, rethink and reshape the sector, making it better - and ultimately more sustainable - for people and places around the world.
As UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said:
Regenerative travel is trending with dozens of companies committing to supporting the future of tourism’s 13 principles of a more ethical and planet-friendly industry.
While sustainability refers to harm reduction, a new concept has recently cropped up among tourism professionals: "regenerative travel". Built on the sustainability concept, regenerative tourism, which is even more ambitious, refers to leaving a place even better than you found it. Six nonprofit organizations - including the Center for Responsible Travel and Sustainable Travel International - have established the Future of Tourism coalition, which aims to “build a better tomorrow". Dozens of hotel groups, destination marketers and travel organizations have signed on to the coalition’s 13 guiding principles, including “demand fair income distribution” and “choose quality over quantity.”
3. Generating economic opportunity:
Following tremendous losses, according to the WTTC, the industry could regain 111 million travel and tourism jobs in 2021.
Travel companies are facilitating that desire to help. New businesses – such as the booking agency Regenerative Travel - features sustainable destinations and resorts and committed to a sustainable future. The interest in giving back to destination communities is even evident among armchair travelers. Global Child "Travel with Purpose", a popular series available on Amazon Prime, is now in its third season. According to the series’ creator, "We wanted to inspire travelers to remember that everyone is part of one global family, it's time to leave the divisive behind and embrace the future together. Doing good in each place we visit, not only is a great blessing for each place we visit, but it actually does wonders for our own soul.”
Along with a global focus on the pandemic, concern over climate change has reached new levels this past year, with an increasing determination by businesses and individuals everywhere to do their part to mitigate carbon emissions. In fact, one of the silver linings of the pandemic has been the decrease in travel-related carbon emissions. Hotels can do their part to help further reduce emissions through sustainable building design, the efficient use of energy, by addressing issues in their supply chains and reducing single-use plastics. They can also reduce purchase carbon offsets with companies such as Cool Effect to offset their emissions. One important way that hotels and restaurants can contribute to reducing emissions - and address consumer concerns - is by serving sustainable foods. A recent survey from EU consumer organization BEUC, which focused on consumers’ attitudes toward sustainable food, found that more than half of consumers say that sustainability has some or a lot of influence on their eating habits. That means, for example, reducing red meat, which has a huge carbon footprint, and serving more plant-based and foods from local farms.
Even during the pandemic, concerns about the future of our planet are top of mind and driving decisions. As revealed by the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020 - which explores the views of more than 27.5K millennials and Gen Zs, both before and after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic - “despite the individual challenges and personal sources of anxiety that millennials and Gen Zs are facing, they have remained focused on larger societal issues, both before and after the onset of the pandemic. If anything, the pandemic has reinforced their desire to help drive positive change in their communities and around the world.”
The world’s top hoteliers and industry professionals are heeding the call. Just as 9/11 increased their focus on security, the pandemic has raised hoteliers’ awareness of health and wellness - concerns that are closely linked to sustainability. Along with contactless and touchless check-in and room controls, new hotels are being designed with a focus on nature and wellness.
The Asian brand Six Senses, for example, whose ethos is built on sustainable design and customer experience, is opening their first hotel in Brazil. Another new hotel in the Negev Desert in Israel will include an Earth Lab, where guests can learn first-hand about the brand’s efforts around marine conservation, forestry and farming, as well learning practical applications for sustainability, including composting and organic gardening.