I’m sure it’s not often someone has found themselves crying at WTM. Maybe after a few too many free wines while wandering around the stands? Or crying with laughter when catching up with an old industry pal not seen for years?
I certainly hadn’t shed any tears there until this year. But as I stood at the WTM Responsible Tourism Theatre, I was overcome with sadness at the state of the planet when one speaker showed a clip from documentary A Plastic Ocean (available on Netflix if you want to watch it). Geoff Brighty, science and policy adviser at the Plastic Oceans Foundation, which was behind the film, highlighted the crisis in the consumption of plastic. I then asked Twitter if we could create a plastic-free hotel? I was told there already is one – Jaya House River Park in Cambodia. I’m sure there could –and should – be others.
Any measures, big or small, should be heralded – like Titan’s initiative with south-east Asia DMC Exo Travel, which gives those on its tours a reusable bottle for water, or Cathay Pacific’s offering to passengers of the PressReader service so they can download their reading for the journey instead of carrying heaps of magazines.
Research from Bouteco shows 90% of European respondents see sustainability as an important factor in choosing a resort, and as Bouteco co-founder Juliet Kinsman says: “There’s never been a more prudent time to implement and promote sustainable and social initiatives.”
Luxury is potentially layered in excess: packaging, consumption, frivolity. But it can also be a huge contributor to change and exerting influence. And while it may seem hypocritical to be saying this from the printed pages of a magazine, I hope you will excuse me a little if I at least use them to share stories of good practice and highlight those operating commendably. As of next year, we will place a much bigger focus on sustainability too.
Rather than crying, it’s time to do something about it. Talking about it more seriously is the first step.