Report calls for global efforts to ensure eco-friendly travel

Leaders from the travel sector have called for a collective, global effort to ensure climate-ready travel, as the latest independent report identifies the policy and changes in investments required to achieve the goal.  

According to the Envisioning Tourism in 2030 & Beyond report, industry voices have urged the tourism and transportation industry to take full responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions.  

Published by the Travel Foundation with the Centre of Expertise in Leisure, Tourism and Hospitality, Breda University of Applied Sciences, the European Tourism Futures Institute and the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions models the effect of interventions. This includes electrification, technological advancements and alternative fuels.  

According to the report, these could have a significant future impact on CO2 reduction. The report aims to provide signatories of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism with a positive outlook of tourism which aims net zero by 2050.   

“There is so much at stake if we continue with a business-as-usual approach to development. For small island developing states like those in the Pacific Island region, it is as simple as ensuring that regional, national and business level climate resilience targets and actions are integrated into tourism policy and plans and are well funded. This is a good starting point,” said Christina Leala Gale, Pacific Tourism Organisation. 

The report said that tourism will change as future growth is fueled by areas of tourism that are most ready to decarbonize. For instance, even if a traveler takes the same number or more trips in a year, they will travel shorter distances, creating opportunities for businesses to target closer-proximity travelers.   

Travelers are also expected to opt for greener forms of transport like rail, electric car, ferry or coach options while traveling. Travelers taking long-distance routes will likely take fewer long-distance trips but stay longer in energy-efficient accommodations.

The need to include all emissions in tourism’s decarbonization efforts was identified as the most important recommendation.   

The study also called for a global plan to optimize tourism growth and distribution flows so that it is equitable and compatible with climate targets considering the need for a cap on the number of flights. Long-haul flight emissions are expected to quadruple by 2050 if no plan is implemented, accounting for 41% of total tourism emissions but only 4% of trips. 

Alternative transportation — ferry, rail, coach, electric cars — will need major investments. The report also highlighted the implications for each sector, including rail, aviation, tour operators, tourist boards, accommodation providers and car and ferry providers, as well as the need to influence other sectors that rely on tourism. 

While there is still a long road ahead regarding climate equality, there’s still a lot of hope, said Ewout Versloot, strategist, Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions.   

“In the Envisioning 2030 scenario, we see growth for the sector as a whole, both in number of trips and revenue. This scenario vehemently refutes the notion that tourism must cease to exist or that we should stop flying all together. This is important: we have to safeguard the values and positive impact travel can bring for future generations as well. This also means, however, that we need to start asking the right questions. Not if or what we should do, but how we can create the right incentives and transition as fairly and equitably as possible,” Versloot said.