It has taken a sixteen year old’s tenacious crusade to wake us up to the reality of climate change. Even those of us that are aware, continue to be in the inertia of old habits and don’t make the major shifts required to personally address the situation. And when it comes to business it is compounded by the added delusion of how the guest is going to perceive any initiative that includes them in your endeavour to make the process and products shifts that address climate change.
COVID-19 may have thrown up many positive stories of closures and restraints, that less is more and how the earth is healing, but the true change and planet first attitude will be seen in its entirely only after the lockdown lifts. We are hurtling towards the tipping point with global excesses being the normal and this ‘pause’ is just an indicator and not really enough. Continuity from here to carry forward the lessons we have learnt during the lockdown is needed, the question we should be asking over the euphoria of social media posts about nature reviving and birds breaking into song every morning.
Are we Aware enough, do we Believe we can change and can be make the much needed and imperative gentler Choices. Putting planet first ! is not really a choice anymore.
Travel in itself is heavy on its reliance on fossil fuels and contributes to over 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. However considering that travel in some form or fashion is inevitable, the challenge is to then find solutions that help us enjoy the benefits of tourism while reducing its contribution to global warming and also help in mitigating some of the ill effects.
Business In Travel
And there is a way to do this business of travel with least impact on our planet, it needs will, vision and action. Let us then begin by defining sustainable travel or ‘responsible travel’ a more widely used term in the travel industry. Business in Tourism and hospitality is said to be sustainable when it strikes the right balance between the tourism experience of the destination and its adherence to best practises that takes into consideration the health of the planet, the integrity of the destination and benefit to the community.
It may be valid to put it into perspective that destinations that are famous for their vision and execution of sustainable travel have every stakeholder in the tourism chain engaged working towards this vision. It begins right at the government level who proactively lead the vision through policies and implementation checks, followed diligently by various stakeholders and ultimately pull travellers into realising the perfect vision for the destination to be sustainable and pristine where the synergy between tourism and the host community is positive and transformative. Associations working with the government in training and implementation, lead the way for tour operators, hotels and other service providers by laying out protocols, provide training, help in implementation and finally assess impact.
Tour operators are easily the vital link in ensuring that a destination can realise its ideal for being sustainable and that the right products and services are offered to the travellers. They are also crucial in creating innovations in marketing language by urging a necessary shift in consumer mindset and behavioural change that adhere to best practises and offer hotels and services that practise the values listed as responsible and sustainable leading to the realisation of the ultimate goal of a destination that works towards a better planet and positively impacting host communities.
And the role of media in sensitising by advocacy and awareness cannot be discounted, in the digital age the power of media to reach out to a worldwide audience is colossal for any movement that strives to bring about change has to touch and transform people in great numbers, all this with a few clicks on the keyboard.