Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Finn Partners Travel Practice webinar on the role of responsible tourism in driving recovery post-lockdown. I was joined by Fiona Jeffery OBE, Senior Partner, Finn Partners Global Responsibility Tourism Practice, Founder and Chairman of Just A Drop, alongside Amy Skelding, Senior Partner in our Travel Practice who moderated the session.
In recent years, the travel industry has been impacted by environmental disasters including the droughts in Cape Town and the bushfires in Australia, which have awakened our business and personal consciousness. The industry has arguably been late to sustainability and we are now at our own ground zero. This is a unique moment in time to take a pause, right the wrongs, and move away from viewing responsible travel as a ‘nice to do’. There should be no such thing as ‘sustainable tourism’, simply ‘tourism’ where acting ethically and responsibly sits in the DNA of every travel brand.
Most critically, destinations need to move away from acting as marketing organisations and focus on being responsible management companies with an environmental and social emphasis which in turn will help reap long-term economic benefits. Governments and trade bodies must also start measuring tourism post crisis in terms other than purely economic and consider environmental and social impacts.
Many sources, such as Juliet Kinsman’s article for Condé Nast Traveller, are identifying that post-lockdown travellers will be more thoughtful with their travel spend and will travel with purpose and sensitivity towards the health of people and planet. The traveller of the future will take fewer, but longer trips and will have a desire for more experiential travel that is seen to benefit local communities directly. They will also be looking for greater transparency from travel brands and as a result, robust data on their sustainable measures, will be key to driving consumer confidence.
Health and safety will also be embedded into travellers’ decisions. This means that destinations will need to work closely with the health ministries, banks, investors, insurance companies and the private sector to achieve this moving forward in a well-coordinated, informed and transparent way. Carbon offsetting also needs to be looked at more closely by all travel brands to ensure their schemes are ethically driven.
Whilst we still have a long way to go, in the middle of the trauma of coronavirus, there are green shoots and ‘green swans’ innovating their way out of the crisis. Innovators are devising and creating positive developments such as airline uniforms that also acts as PPE and utilising mobile technology to manage tourism flows.
It’s important, now more than ever, that brands and destinations prioritise responsible travel as the cornerstone of all recovery plans. Amid Covid-19, we can’t lose sight of the Paris Agreement, out of this tragedy will come innovation and greater responsibility that the travel industry must act on.
For a synopsis of the webinar, click here.
To view the full webinar click here.