Sunday, July 14, 2024

Travel companies urged to act on climate change

Phocuswright, the world’s leading travel industry research authority, has released its new Green Innovation report, ahead of the upcoming Phocuswright Europe Conference, which takes place in Barcelona on June 12-14.

Sustainability will be a key topic driving the agenda at this year’s Phocuswright Europe.

Eugene Ko, Director of Marketing and Communications at Phocuswright, said: “Climate change is happening now, meaning the travel industry is at a crossroads; it can either take action to become more sustainable via innovation – or be forced to do so via crises and regulation.  Increasing global action on climate change will create various challenges for the travel industry – but travel companies must innovate now or these challenges will become more difficult and they face being left behind.”

The new Phocuswright report details the main drivers behind change for the travel industry, as well as meaningful actions travel companies can take.  Here are five key drivers for 2023 and beyond:

•    Increasing regulatory challenges – Travel companies can expect increasing regulatory challenges as a result of various green initiatives, which they must adapt to.  For example, France banning short-haul flights where rail options are available, and various resorts adding new entry fees to control “overtourism”.  These are the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come.

•    Acting on traveler sentiment – 55 per cent of travelers age 18-34 are now likely to pay to offset their carbon footprint when flying (according to a recent Phocuswright study).  This represents a growing share of consumers that are eager to act on sustainable travel.  However, travel companies must not rely on traveler sentiment alone to guide their sustainability investments. If data and algorithms can be employed in a way that keeps users glued to social media, travel companies can and must harness innovative, technology-driven processes to make environmentally-positive travel decisions possible and desirable.

•    Individual travel companies spearheading efforts – Intrepid Travel, which in 2020 declared a climate emergency, is pushing travel companies to follow its lead in committing to specific targets for reducing carbon emissions through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).  While the first step is formally committing to reduce emissions, travel companies must then establish an action plan for how they will meet specific targets and find a way to accurately measure their emissions.

•    Enabling and empowering travelers during shopping and booking – Sustainability practices and products should be fully transparent, certified and prominently displayed for travelers during the shopping process. Travel companies can increase their impact by working with vendors to foster sustainability throughout their supply chains.

•    Increased focus on innovation, for profit and for planet – There are opportunities to create impactful products and services now. The sustainable future will crown new winners and losers, and established travel companies and would-be startups alike should actively pursue innovation in this area.  Sustainability initiatives at corporations appear to drive better financial performance due to mediating factors such as improved risk management and more innovation. Whether motivated by the love of travel or profit, the tourism industry must accelerate sustainability action and innovation.

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