The travel industry needs to embrace its environmental and social responsibilities in the post-Covid 19 world, says the founder of Just a Drop.
Fiona Jeffery, who is also chair of the water charity, told the first ITT Future You: International Careers Conference that the next generation of employees coming into the industry could help to “champion” a better industry in the future.
“The industry has never before faced such an unprecedented global challenge as the health pandemic,” she said during the online conference.
“We’re facing our own ground zero. We were the first to be impacted by the pandemic and will be one of the last out.”
Jeffery called the coronavirus crisis a “massive wake-up call for all of us that love and value this industry”.
“It’s a massive opportunity to develop and rebuild the industry in ways that are much better than in the past,” she argued. “You can influence and contribute to that better future.”
Jeffery added travel firms needed to “evolve” their business models to go beyond making money, so they take into account environmental and social impacts as part of a “triple bottom line”.
“We have the additional responsibility to protect this planet and its community,” she said.
“Overtourism is bad but so is having no tourism on which many millions of lives and livelihoods depend. The solution lies in developing responsible and sustainable tourism.”
She urged newcomers to the industry to “embrace responsible and sustainable tourism as part of the DNA of your organisation”, as well as playing their part in rebuilding and re-engineering the industry.
“My biggest fear is that we go back to the way we were. To my mind, that’s not good enough,” Jeffery said. “The industry has to do better if it wants to remain healthy, resilient and sustainable for future generations.”
ITT chairman Steven Freudmann said holding the online Future You conference was “important in this very uncertain time”.
“We are robust and resilient,” he added. “I firmly believe we will get through these difficult times and there’s light at the end of this tunnel.”