“Doing the right thing” with regards to responsible tourism makes good business sense, but cross-sector collaboration is “only just beginning”.
Speaking during TTG’s latest debate (clip above), following the publication of a responsible tourism-themed issue of the magazine, Aito deputy chair Derek Moore said: “We’ve now got a situation whereby doing the right thing is not just a question of whether you feel it’s the right thing, it’s also good business sense.
“Which means that we’re getting quite a few members who, if I’m honest are probably not totally sold on sustainable tourism, but they’re beginning to see it is worth their while getting involved.”
Moore added though persuading the consumer of the need for more sustainable travel was more complex.
“If I can, rather crudely, split the market into two, you’ve got the mass market mainstream holidays, which consist of getting on a plane, going to a beach in Spain, and coming home.
“I think it’s a whole difficult job to convince those people what we’re talking about [to convincing those who use specialist tour operators].”
Moore added that the Aito Climate Crisis think tank was currently getting off the ground, despite being on pause somewhat last year amid the pandemic.
“We didn’t do much with it in 2020 – people were too busy fire fighting,” he said.
The think tank looks at more macro issues such as aviation and government, while a different committee considers the micro approach, helping members in terms of sustainability actions by producing a series of toolkits.
“This would probably never have got off the ground if it hadn’t been for Covid. So that’s been an interesting move forward,” he said.
Moore added his belief there is not enough collaboration when it comes to sustainability – although he added later he was referring specifically to cross-sector work.
“I don’t think there’s enough cooperation as we would like… we at the start of this journey,” he said.
“We’re at the bottom of the mountain and I feel like we’ve got a climb it.
“And I think it’s pretty obvious to all the people who are interested in this topic that we have to work together. I think it’ll take a little time, but that’s the inevitable route I think so I’m not too disturbed that at the moment there isn’t a lot of cohesion, but we’ll get there.”
Carrie Harris, head of sustainability at British Airways, countered: “I probably have a more positive view than that, because my sense is over the last decade we have seen huge collaboration within the aviation sector.
“So right from 2009, when the aviation sector came together to jointly commit to our 2050 long-term targets and our interim target of, carbon neutral growth from 2020.
“So we’ve had that decade of collaboration already within the aviation sector. And as you mentioned the Sustainable Aviation coalition and others, and our One World Alliance for example.
“There’s lots of great work that’s happened together that we couldn’t have done individually.
“I think where we need to go now is cross sector collaboration, and that’s where things like Jet Zero Council starts to be effective.
“But also the opportunity to that comes with the Cop climate conference this year is trying to look at how we can cross finance, how we can use sectors like aviation that are complex to decarbonise, so we can help fund carbon reductions elsewhere while we scale up our solutions.
“And those really do need government support and global scale solutions.
“So back to trying to get global commitment around a long-term goal for aviation, towards net zero would be really helpful too.”
Abta’s head of sustainability Clare Jenkinson said part of the reason Abta had joined the Sustainabile Aviation coalition was because it’s important to “speak with one voice” to government on issues like decarbonisation.
“It’s very helpful when we can articulate clearly what the asks are of government and where we think the opportunities are,” she said.
“So that’s why from an Abta perspective we’ve joined Sustainable Aviation, but recognising that within the broader travel and tourism industry, there are other decarbonisation issues as well.”
She added: “We set all of this out in our Tourism For Good report, but we need to look at decarbonisation in cruise, in hotels, in ground transport. We need to look at the whole travel journey.
“Yes, that cross-sector collaboration, but I think that shared articulation of what the opportunity is, is key.”
Jenkinson said Tourism For Good looked at decarbonisation across the whole of travel and tourism and “brings to life” what it means.
“Within our membership we have so many different business models,” she said.
“We have agents or homeworkers, for whom it’s actually very hard to establish what ambitions they are responsible for.
“Right up to the big tour operators that have their own cruise ships, that have their own planes.
“So we’ve got a huge range of business models. So what it looks like in practice will be different dependent on that business model.
“But I think amongst our members and membership and amongst that travel industry, we can certainly play a role in painting what that picture could look like, what we’re aiming for and how we can learn from each other."
Watch the full 45-minute discussion On-demand.