The UNWTO has announced a new vision for the future of tourism, in which sustainability will be the new norm.
World Tourism Organisation Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili announced the “One Planet Sustainable Tourism Programme” for global tourism – growing better, stronger, and balancing the needs of people, planet and prosperity on World Environment Day this month.
The One Planet Vision for the Responsible Recovery of the Tourism Sector builds on the UNWTO Global Guidelines to Restart Tourism, with the aim to emerge stronger and more sustainable from the COVID-19 crisis.
The programme is led by UNWTO, with the governments of France and Spain as co-leads and in collaboration with UNEP. It aims to enhance the sustainable development impacts of the tourism sector by 2030 by developing, promoting and scaling up sustainable consumption and production practices that boost the efficient use of natural resources, while producing less waste and addressing the challenges of climate change and biodiversity.
This combined effort comes at a time when several destinations around the world begin to ease restrictions on travel and mobility and the tourism sector is getting ready to resume its activity with the lessons learned from the pandemic.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili
“Sustainability must no longer be a niche part of tourism but must be the new norm for every part of our sector. This is one of the central elements of our Global Guidelines to Restart Tourism. It is in our hands to transform tourism and that emerging from COVID-19 becomes a turning point for sustainability”, said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
The One Planet Vision calls for responsible recovery for the tourism sector, which is founded on sustainability, to build back better. This will underpin tourism’s resilience to be better prepared for future crises. The Vision will support the development and implementation of recovery plans, which contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to the Paris Agreement.
It is imperative to keep focused on creating a more responsible and fair way to travel
Sabina Fluxà Thienemann, Vice-Chairman and CEO Iberostar Group, a leading international Hotel and Resort company, stressed that “It is imperative to keep focused on creating a more responsible and fair way to travel”, adding that “Iberostar has responded by integrating sustainability in elevated safety protocols and further committing to our circular economy policies to ensure any new waste is managed properly.”
A cornerstone of Iberostar’s efforts to combat climate change include a commitment to be a net zero, carbon neutral company by 2030, even in places where renewable energy is just starting to take foot. They claim they will do this by not only minimising their footprint, but offsetting with blue carbon solutions such as mangrove and coral reef restoration programmes. They will be also launching one of the sectors most ambitious roadmaps to 100% responsible seafood sourcing by 2025.
The Long Run’s 4Cs — where travel businesses place a balance of Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce at the heart of everything they do — is helping our members to build back better
According to Delphine Malleret-King, Executive Director of The Long Run, an international community of nature-based tourism businesses, “Our members collectively conserve over 20 million acres of fragile ecosystems, and none of this work has stopped despite the pandemic and tourism’s pause, demonstrating where priorities lie.”
“The crisis has also proved the value of our 4C framework. The Long Run’s 4Cs — where travel businesses place a balance of Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce at the heart of everything they do — is helping our members to build back better. If anything, the crisis has strengthened the role of the 4Cs, as members embed them into recovery and crisis plans,” added Ms Malleret-King.
We believe climate action is a collective commitment to the sustainability of the entire travel industry, and the world we so love to explore
James Thornton, CEO, Intrepid Travel, a leading provider of adventure travel experiences, call for committed actions and underscores that, “We believe climate action is a collective commitment to the sustainability of the entire travel industry, and the world we so love to explore”.
“Through disaster and devastation, we must not only seek to find hope, but to inspire systemic change. We must decide to enter the post-COVID world not only with better intentions, but with a series of committed actions. Simply put, we cannot be aspiring for things to go back to normal. We must collectively work to redefine what normal means and be ready to fight for it,” continued Thornton.
In a piece entitled “Travel can only rebound stronger if it rebuilds more responsibly”, Intrepid Travel Co-Founder, Geoff Manchester, outlined 4 areas of focus for a more sustainable future; net-zero emissions, ending exploitative wildlife tourism, empowering communities and establishing stronger governance.
The One Planet Vision for the Responsible Recovery of the Tourism Sector is structured around six lines of action to guide responsible tourism recovery for people, planet and prosperity, namely public health, social inclusion, biodiversity conservation, climate action, circular economy and governance and finance.
Access the full document One Planet Vision for a Responsible Recovery of the Tourism Sector.