ABTA has published a new report which sets out how the devastating impact of the global pandemic has brought into relief the value of tourism to holidaymakers.
ABTA, formerly known as the Association of British Travel Agents, is the UK’s largest travel association, representing travel agents and tour operators.
The organisation’s new research from 2020 shows that 49% of consumers consider the sustainability credentials of their holiday provider are important or essential when choosing which company to book with, compared to only 20% in 2011.
Its new “Tourism for Good – A Roadmap for Rebuilding Travel and Tourism” report provides a framework “for collaborative action to build better places to live in and better places to visit”.
Central to the report is the belief that travel and tourism is a powerful force for good; being both physically and mentally restorative for holidaymakers while also generating significant economic, employment and social benefits in the UK and around the world. It also acknowledges the challenges that the sector faces, including the need to accelerate decarbonisation and to ensure that tourism generates greater benefits for destinations and local communities.
The report emphasises the huge value and contribution of UK outbound tourism, both domestically and internationally, in terms of job creation, livelihood opportunities, social benefits for local communities, support and funding for nature and wildlife conservation and cultural heritage protection.
In certain destinations – the Maldives, Jamaica, Cyprus, Malta, Mauritius, Greece, Spain and Portugal – UK holidaymakers alone contribute more than 1% of national GDP, said ABTA.
The report also acknowledges the challenges faced by the sector, and, through case studies and examples, outlines how the industry is taking steps to address its biggest issues by decarbonising, cutting waste and water consumption, ensuring that local people benefit from tourism, respecting human rights and managing animal welfare.
Underpinned by a series of nine core principles, the ‘Tourism for Good’ report sets out a roadmap to guide ABTA’s commitment to working with its members, suppliers, destination authorities, travellers and the wider travel industry.
It also calls on the UK Government to support tourism’s contribution to economic development and employment, deliver the necessary policies to encourage transport providers to transition to greener technologies, and to help consumers to transition to low-carbon transport.
In order to accurately track the progress being made, ABTA has launched a sustainability indicator survey for members to complete which will establish a baseline of how the travel and tourism industry is currently embracing sustainability. The findings will be used to identify the areas where progress is being made and the areas that require more focus.
Clare Jenkinson, Head of Sustainability at ABTA, said: “Building on ABTA’s longstanding work on sustainability, the ‘Tourism for Good’ report is designed to act as a strategic framework to guide our activities as the industry reopens and evolves.
“The core principles include, for example, the need for tourism to be sustainable and resilient against future shocks, for policies and actions to be designed in alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and the urgent need to accelerate decarbonisation. We commit to measuring the progress that is being made and identifying the areas where more work needs to be done.”
Chief Executive Mark Tanzer added: “Tourism’s unexpected standstill has given us a unique opportunity to reflect on the type of industry we want to rebuild, fit for the challenges we face and a contributor to the global good. I believe the future prosperity of the industry depends on putting sustainability at the heart of our recovery. This report therefore underlines ABTA’s commitment to working with our members, the wider travel industry, and the UK Government to create a more sustainable industry that allows everyone a share in its success.”
(Photo – top of page – village scene – Mabul Island – Sabah, Malaysia – Copyright 2018 Barnes / Cleverdis)