03 July 2012
Minister Penrose unveiling the white paper
The tourism business is facing a "perfect storm", as destinations face the impact of climate change alongside economic volatility and rising costs, according to a new white paper from the Travel Foundation in partnership with Forum for the Future.
In its Survival of the Fittest: Sustainable Tourism Means Business white paper, the industry is called on to consider its stance on sustainability, set ambitious targets and work as one to meet the environmental, economic and social challenges ahead.
Since the launch of the Tourism 2023 vision three years ago, which at the time was backed by The Travel Foundation, Forum for the Future and eight major tourism companies, concern is growing amongst industry leaders that current economic pressures could threaten progress in this area.
The report is intended as a call to action for the whole tourism industry - travel retailers, tour operators, hoteliers, attractions and airlines - to think about what they can do to become more sustainable.
It suggests that the business case for sustainability has never been stronger; from reducing costs and improving efficiency to engaging staff to meeting legislative requirements, the report outlines the reasons why sustainability should be the priority on the boardroom agenda.
Minister for Tourism & Heritage, John Penrose MP, who endorsed the white paper at the Travel Foundation annual meeting, said: "Sustainable tourism is not only morally right, but commercially sensible. Doing sustainable tourism is difficult and awkward but rewarding. Equipping people with the tools is an important step in the "doing".
"It"s vitally important that we have Travel Foundation and other organisations setting good examples. You [the industry] can do well, by doing good; good for the bottom line as well as the environment...there is no doubt that sustainable tourism should be mainstream."
Sue Hurdle, chief executive of the Travel Foundation, said: "The purpose of this report is to celebrate successes that have already been achieved, while highlighting the issues and challenges we will face as an industry. This white paper presents the sustainability agenda in a digestible format, with suggested strategies for success, and is aimed not only at those with "sustainability" in their job title."
Stephanie Draper, Forum for the Future, said: "With the economic challenges that everyone faces, it"s easy to get caught up in short-term thinking. The world"s "green" economy is worth £3,000 billion annually and is forecast to grow by a quarter over the next five years, outpacing overall growth. The question businesses have to ask themselves is whether they are ready to evolve and capitalise on this opportunity, as business as usual is no longer an option."
The white paper suggests that consumer trends mean customers will come to expect travel companies to build sustainability into their product offer. And it will become increasingly important for companies wanting to recruit, retain and motivate quality employees to demonstrate their commitment to corporate responsibility.
You can download a free copy of the white paper at HERE
A full video of Mr Penrose"s address to the Travel Foundation annual meeting can be found on the Travel Foundation YouTube channel: