Much needs to be done to equip tourism for the future: at the ITB Berlin NOW Convention experts are calling for fairer and more sustainable changes
Stumbling from one crisis to the next and not learning anything – this is something that tourism must avoid. For reasons of climate policy alone there is a need for new concepts to make travel more sustainable. This view was shared by the participants in a panel discussion at the ITB Berlin NOW Convention. But what form should changes take if they are to be fair and protect the climate? “Tourism will have to change, and instead of being an industry with high emissions and small margins it should produce a high added value and low emissions", declared Prof. Dr. Stefan Gössling, who conducts research into sustainable tourism at the Linnaeus University School of Business and Economics. “We need a new model for destinations, aimed at achieving optimisation and not maximisation", according to Gössling.
One positive example of this is the tour operator Intrepid Travel, which has set itself ambitious CO2 reduction targets, which also take into account the supply chain, and has acquired “B Corp" certification in 2018. This confirms that the company is committed to “benefit" as a corporate objective and has undertaken to maintain the highest standards in the areas of social involvement, the environment, transparency and responsibility. “B Corp is a certificate awarded to ethically run companies that view their business activities as a force for good", according to Zina Bencheikh, Managing Director EMEA at Intrepid Travel.
Judy Kepher-Gona from the Kenyan consultancy Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda STTA pointed out that there is still a great deal to be done in the tourism sector in terms of sustainability and social responsibility. On the Kenyan coast it has been usual over decades for employees to work on a seasonal basis, meaning that they cannot live from this work alone and therefore cannot improve their lives. ”This is a waste of human capabilities and potential, and people. They are often only at home waiting to be summoned. No effort is made to train them and to develop their talents. This is not a sustainable approach”, explained Kepher-Gona, who also pointed out that safari and beach holidays have been severely affected in Kenya by the Covid 19 pandemic and the climate crisis.
Text: Rainer Heubeck