Flights do have a role to play, but people should “make their fights count”.
That was the message from Responsible Travel’s director of marketing and content Tim Williamson speaking at the Elman Wall Travel Directors’ Summit in London on Thursday (November 14).
While he has huge concerns about the climate crisis, Williamson said he was absolutely not recommending people not to fly. Instead, he said customers should be more considered about the holidays they take.
“I run a run a travel company. Flights do have a role to play and I am absolutely not recommending not to fly. There are communities around the world that absolutely rely on tourism and if people didn’t [travel there] then the results would be catastrophic,” he said.
However Williamson cautioned delegates that a business change was required, warning it was “inevitable that either customers will want to fly less or there will be fiscal restrictions on the industry”.
He urged travel companies to start challenging themselves before clients start to. “You can question things like ‘why are there so many internal flights on these itineraries’. You will start getting questions from your staff about what you are doing [to tackle the climate crisis]”.
Pressure from society on the issue was only set to grow, Williamson said, adding that regulation was “coming”.
“Get on the front foot and start talking to political parties about the matter, as we are,” he said. “As we get closer to 2030 [the UK’s zero carbon target], the efforts required [to reach this target] will be more severe and more draconian.”
Williamson urged travel companies to encourage clients to think about the holidays they take, advising them to “help make your customers make their flights count”, and consider holidays which will benefit local communities.
Brian Young, managing director EMEA for G Adventures, also championed this message as he took to the stage later in the day.
He reminded delegates of the shocking statistic that for every $100 spent in travel, only $5 stays in the local community.
“When it comes to booking your next holiday… stop and think, where will your money go? Will you ensure your travel has as meaningful an experience for the community as for you?” Young said, adding: “When done right, travel really can be a wonderful thing.”