The travel industry needs to remove sustainability from “PR stunts”, embrace alternative modes of travel and reject the concept of carbon offsetting.
Those were some of the comments from Mladen Ljubisic, head of the Slovenian Tourist Board for UK and Ireland, speaking at the Abta Adventure Travel Conference in London last week.
During a session on responsible adventure travel, Ljubisic said the industry must start taking radical steps when developing sustainable tourism practices.
“Little steps are not enough – we need to address the elephant in the room, which is air travel,” he said.
“Carbon offsetting is just a way to ease our consciences.
“Of course, making your travel count is the way to go, short term. But what’s good for social economics will hurt the environment.
“Change the mode of transportation. We should focus on train journeys and [Virgin’s] Hyperloop One, which may seem like a fantasy, but it’s less insane than an electric-powered aircraft that can carry 200 passengers.”
Virgin Hyperloop One proposes to send passengers and cargo in an electromagnetically levitated pod through a low-pressure tube, allowing for high speeds, while reducing the negative impact on the environment.
It is not yet known when the technology could be introduced.
Arguing the importance of having incremental steps to improve sustainability was Abta’s senior destinations and sustainability manager Clare Jenkinson, who said travel firms must apply sustainable practices to all aspects of their business.
“Have you looked at where you use single-use plastic when sending materials to clients?” she said.
“It may be an approach to animal welfare – do you have a policy in place? Or are you measuring your carbon footprint; have you set a target to reduce it? You don’t have to do this all at once. You can do it step by step.”