Aito members have been urged to change the kind of trips they offer and only market to the “right people” in the battle against climate change.
At the association’s 2020 AGM on 5 March, where its new Climate Emergency think tank was discussed, the University of Surrey’s professor Xavier Font pleaded with the travel industry to make immediate change.
“We have to stop binge-flying, please, and take longer holidays because at least the benefit to the industry will be larger,” said professor Font.
He said companies should start by reviewing their internal operations, then overhaul their product lines, evaluate sustainability along the supply chain, market to buyers who will make a positive impact on destinations and only then consider charitable schemes such as offsetting.
Font said recent data had shown a correlation between hotels which are open to eco-friendly initiatives and higher levels of customer satisfaction – and therefore advised operators to consider moving away from any properties reluctant to make change.
The latest data suggests travel contributes 8% to global carbon emissions, up from the previous 2% figure, he added.
John Telfer, managing director of Explore, also urged companies to take immediate action.
“It’s a complicated and difficult subject, and when there are no obvious answers people wait to see what will happen,” said Telfer.
“But we need to embrace uncertainty. Don’t be frightened of making mistakes, the worst mistake is doing nothing.”
Aito’s think tank has already started to lobby government for legislative change.
Noel Josephides, Sunvil’s chairman, updated the AGM on the research group’s progress. “We want to get governments, airlines and ourselves together to have an honest discussion about what is going on,” he said.
“We don’t want to listen to the likes of Michael O’Leary who doesn’t want to admit there is a problem.”
In 2017, the chief executive of Ryanair hit headlines for denying climate change was man-made.
Josephides said airlines should not be flying half-empty aircraft and branded ticket prices so cheap they do not cover Air Passenger Duty (APD) “ridiculous”.
“There’s so much we know that we have to educate the civil servants to understand on how the industry works, and that is our main task,” said Josephides.
He also encouraged Aito members to raise the issue with their MPs.
Aito also announced at the AGM that long-standing chairman Derek Moore has stepped down and will be replaced by Discover Adventure’s Chris Rowles.