Sustainable and Responsible Tourism could be profitable as well as enjoyable if promoted properly: Experts

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Travel and tour operators could benefit more by investing in technologies to make tourism more sustainable industry that could help the world achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and Net Zero Target by 2050, experts say

Dubai, UAE:

Environment-friendly and sustainable tourism could be profitable for businesses while reducing carbon emission, experts at multiple seminars said recently.

Travel and tour operators could benefit more by investing in technologies to make tourism more sustainable industry that could help the world achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and Net Zero Target by 2050, experts said.

“Sustainable tourism need not be expensive and can be profitable as well as cost-effective, if we plan our initiatives carefully,” Dr. Miniya Chatterji, CEO, Sustain Labs Paris, a flag bearer of sustainability across all industry, said at a seminar held as part of the recently-held Arabian Travel Market.

“Ten years ago, people had fringe conversations about sustainability, and it was only about cleaning your house. Today, it is about making the entire supply chain sustainable. Where is it coming from?”

Tourism is a US$2 trillion global business which is poised to cross an all-time high annual global revenue of US$2.28 billion this year, surpassing the total tourism industry revenue of US$2.2 trillion in 2019.

Sustainable tourism is a US$242.54 billion business globally which is growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.2 percent and projected to reach US$369.54 billion by 2029, according to research report by Research Analysis and Insights, a global market intelligence provider.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), more than 900 million tourists travelled internationally in 2022 – double the number recorded in 2021 though still 63 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Every global region recorded notable increases in international tourist numbers. 

The Middle East enjoyed the strongest relative increase as arrivals climbed to 83 percent of pre-pandemic numbers. Europe reached nearly 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels as it welcomed 585 million arrivals in 2022. 

H.E. Ghada Shalaby, Deputy Tourism Minister of Egypt says, “As a policymaker in the tourism field, we make policy and read the industry, especially in the private sector, in terms of how we can ensure the sustainable development of this sector and how we can change the tourist experience. 

“Egypt has a strong culture and heritage, which we are preserving. Egypt has diversified products in terms of tourism: if you want to relax, you have beaches; for adventures, there are deserts; and for history enthusiasts, there is a lot of culture and heritage to explore. So, as we all know, as a business and as an industry, it has multiple impacts and multiple inputs that affect the continuation of the industry, including the number of employees and population that we have that are contributing to the hospitality services.”

As the global economy continually grows and becomes ever more interconnected, organisations are recognising the need to ensure their supply chain operations are as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible. To achieve this, businesses need to understand where, and how, their supply chains begin and formulate strategies to ensure all aspects of the chain are addressed when contributing to sustainability efforts. From the journey of travelers to digital resources and data available to them. 

H.E. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism of Jamaica says, “Technology is used extensively to connect small and medium enterprises; we are the industry that has grown fastest after the recession. As a responsibility, our strategy should be zero CO2 footprint; it must be the vision and mission as tourism is a responsibility. As the travel industry fully embraces its transformation to a sustainable industry, we must not forget the supply chain impact. Travel providers, governments, and academics need to ensure there is cohesion with all suppliers within the value chain.”

However, most international surveys show that travellers want to travel better and seeks sustainable tourism products all the way.

A Booking.com survey shows that 81 percent of global travelers confirm that sustainable travel is important to them, with 50 percent saying that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable travel choices. As much as 57 percent of travelers would feel better staying in a particular accommodation if they knew it had a sustainable certification, while more than 100,000 properties globally are now being recognized for their sustainability efforts with a Travel Sustainable badge on Booking.com.

Dr. Miniya Chatterji says, “With the increase in demand for tourism, sustainability has become important too. There can be new companies with sustainability models as well as traditional companies that are now needing to change.

“In a business-as-usual scenario, tourism would generate through 2050 an increase of 154 percent in energy consumption, 131 percent in greenhouse gas emissions, 152 percent in water consumption, and 251 percent in solid waste disposal. Traveling is learning and education, which is why the tourism industry should be sustainable and profitable,” she added.

New technologies such as solar-powered water heaters, temperature control systems, revised hospitality beyond the economic benefits standards and energy saving appliances allow industry to lessen its carbon footprint. Yet these innovations are not enough to outweigh the emissions created by a growing number of travelers. 

Christian Delom Secretary General of A World For Travel, says, “Let’s say profitable and sustainable. Sustainability requires investing by meeting the customer’s requirements and upgrading the business. That means business must be more efficient and costly, so cost effectiveness would be higher with a new business model that is sustainable and transformative.

“Those new business models will require new production teams, new products we need to produce, and finally, new pricing for them. I want to emphasize on a topic: the sustainable business model is basically not a cheap model to work on. Particularly, the salaries and working conditions must increase to be certain enough to acquire skilled employees. A few employees are an absolute requirement for a sustainable business shift and given to attract that business model.”

When traveling, 69 percent of people want to reduce their carbon footprint and up to 32 percent of travelers say that accommodation providers should offer information about local ecosystems, heritage, culture, and tourist etiquette says renowned travel and booking site Booking.com.

Jared Harckham VP Managing Director ICF-Aviation, Travel & Tourism said, “Governments don’t have a huge tolerance for big losses anymore. So even in that environment, profitability is key. Profitability may be enabled a little bit by tax breaks and other things to encourage compliance with the clean agenda, but in large part, that’s important. The other thing that we’ve seen, at least on the airline side, is that the program has to be sustainable of whatever type it needs to be implementable, and it needs to not be a huge struggle this way. 

“What I’ve seen is that airlines that work with their industry associations take advantage of what’s already known and other people’s experiences. This is a great way to save time and money to get where they want to go. So, I think an airline feels kind of unjustified by that because the emissions percent of the global total for air travel is not as big as people might make out.”  

Carlos Cendra Cruz, CMO, Mabrian said “You might need something at your destination. Personally, where we are actively experts, we always assign sustainable destinations as those that have achieved about four factors. The first is a physical experience. The second is the resident world. 

“The third is the environmental preservation, and the fourth is the profitability of the private sector. We have been the same for the last two years already because the balancing between those four factors is key in order to have a living, healthy, sustainable, and profitable tourism sector.” 

About Dr Miniya Chatterji:

Dr Miniya Chatterji is the CEO of Sustain Labs Paris (SLP), with operations across Europe, MENA, and Asia. Miniya is a public speaker, published author, frequent writer in newspapers, and educator. 

Dr Miniya Chatterji was Chief Sustainability Officer of the US$3.8 billion Jindal Steel & Power group of companies 2014 – 2017. Prior to that she was in the senior leadership of the World Economic Forum 2011-2014 in Geneva where she managed the WEF’s Young Global Leaders Community across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. 

In 2018 she was bestowed the award of ‘Most influential Sustainability leader in India’ at the India Sustainability Leadership Summit and Awards. In 2016 Dr Miniya Chatterji was awarded by the Navoothan Foundation for her personal social commitment. She has also been awarded the prestigious CSR India award 2016 for corporate social responsibility. In the same year, Miniya’s contribution to the field of sustainability was the cover story of Business World Asia. 

Dr Chatterji has a PhD from Sciences Po Paris. She was a research fellow at Columbia University and Harvard University. She is a Global Leadership Fellow alumna of the World Economic Forum. Dr Miniya Chatterji has established these institutions:

  •       GITEX Impact, GITEX Impact CSO Business Club, GITEX Impact Councils (UAE)
  •       The Anant School for Climate Action, India’s first Undergraduate to PhD degree university focusing on climate technologies (India)
  •       Large scale sustainable housing projects (New Zealand & Fiji)
  •       Postgraduate level sustainability focused courses offered by Sciences Po Paris (France)
  •       28 affordable temporary COVID hospitals and quarantine centres across 5 states in India (India)
  •       The annual flagship ranking of ‘India’s Most Sustainable Companies’(India)

About the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council:

In 2016, the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council was launched. The Council is a global platform to bring together the public and private sectors addressing crisis management planning, preparedness, sustainability, recovery, and resilience. As an international thought leadership forum, the Council facilitates dialogue and works with best of breed companies for the benefit of destinations and the global travel industry.