Responsible tourism is the industry’s responsibility, say consumers

Responsible tourism is the industry’s responsibility, say consumers
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WTM LONDON 2016 – LONDON – REPORT: UK holidaymakers think that the travel industry rather than the Government should take the lead in responsible tourism, according to World Travel Market London research released yesterday at the event.

Nearly six out of ten (59%) of UK holidaymakers polled said it is the industry’s duty to make tourism sustainable, compared with one in four (25%) who believe that the Government should be in the driving seat. The majority (55%) of industry respondents agree that the trade has the greatest responsibility to climate change, with 70% saying the industry has become more responsible over the past 10 years.

Britons are also taking the initiative themselves, with 75% saying that the environment and sustainability is an important consideration in their choice of holiday destination.

This represents a significant increase over the past twelve months. Last year’s World Travel Market Industry Report found that 61% of respondents thought that these issues were important.

Having said that, when asked specifically about carbon offsetting for flights, only 4% of this year’s sample said they offset every flight they take, the same percentage as last year. The number of people who never offset their flights shows the slightest of improvements – 73% of the latest sample never bother compared with 74% last time.

World Travel Market London, the leading global event for the travel industry, has always argued that responsible tourism is about more than carbon footprints and climate change. Protection of the natural environment, engaging with communities, sharing economic benefits and animal welfare are among the other factors which contribute to a sustainable and responsible approach to tourism.

In this context, Britons appear to have become slightly less aware of the issues while away – 79% said they consider environmental issues during their holiday compared with 81% last time.

The British holidaymakers’ overall perception of the industry’s attempts to address its environmental impact is that more needs to be done. While one in three (35%) said travel had become more sustainable, 17% thought not with 48% unsure.

Nine out of ten industry executives say sustainability is important to their organisation – up from 80% last year – while only 28% of organisations have a carbon emission reduction policy. However, 38% consider the travel industry’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction performance to be better than other industries.

World Travel Market London, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “British holidaymakers are aware of sustainability issues around their travel choices but there needs to be a renewed effort from the industry to change that awareness into action.

“Our finding that holidaymakers think the industry should take the lead is a mandate for suppliers to become more forceful in their messaging and to make sure that sustainability is a seamless part of the travel experience.”

WTM London is the event where the travel and tourism industry conducts its business deals. Buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of $22.6 billion (£15.8bn) and sign deals at the event worth $3.6 billion (£2.5bn). The annual gathering of 50,000 senior travel industry professionals takes place at ExCeL – London from Monday 7 to Wednesday 9 November 2016.

The research polled 2,044 senior industry executives and more than 1,000 UK holidaymakers, all having been on a week’s holiday in 2016.

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