Responsible TourismLearn from the mistakes of others, lead from the front, industry told.

Listen carefully: Travel industry urged to lead the charge on sustainability

The travel sector is urged to embrace sustainability and lead from the front.
The travel sector is urged to embrace sustainability and lead from the front. Photo Credit: Adobe/liliya

Flight Centre Corporate’s Illuminate 2022 one-day event in Sydney put the spotlight firmly on the importance of sustainability in travel with a vast number of presenters either talking on the subject directly or weaving it into their own area of specialisation.

Speaking at Illuminate, Ernst & Young partner in EY’s climate change and sustainability services team, Adam Carrel, said whether those working in the travel industry wanted to hear it or not their industry was going to be the next in line forced to tackle sustainability.

“The travel industry finds itself on a really difficult list,” he said.

“This is a list of global sectors that must change. You’ve just got back onto your feet and the last thing you want to think about is another existential crisis.”

He said that the sector had to learn from the mistakes of other industries, particularly mining.

Carrel urged the travel sector to embrace the topic and lead from the front. He said the travel industry should not avert attention away from fixing the problem by focusing on other benefits of travel, including the positive economic contribution it makes.

He said that it was a challenge that no sector of the industry could do in isolation.

“So much of the travel industry markets itself right now on the fear of [travellers] missing out. You can switch that around to an idea of the joy of sustainability; of making people genuinely feel that when they travel, they are taking part in the restoration of the natural world.

He said one of the most challenging issues in this was the notion of “consumerism”.

“Yours is the industry that will have to find a way to get the consumer to come along with you and embrace quality over quantity,” he said.

Clearly, when viewing the speakers and topics at this year’s Flight Centre Corporate Illuminate event, the industry is not only sitting up and taking notice of issues around sustainability and travel but quickly developing short and long-term goals.

Accor Pacific vice president of sales & connected partners, Anne Gill, outlined the company’s ambitions of being carbon zero by 2050, the stringent sustainable inclusions in all new build properties, and the removal of single use plastics in hotels by the end of 2022.

FCTG Global land supply division corporate general manager, Andrew Gallard, spoke about responsible sourcing in the company’s procurement practices, and FCTG global sustainability officer, Michelle Degenhardt, explained how everything the company was with sustainable practices in mind.

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