Travel and tourism industry voices are calling for a global effort to make climate-ready travel a reality, as the recently published Envisioning Tourism in 2030 & Beyond report identifies the needed policy and investment shifts.
The report, published by the Travel Foundation with the Centre of Expertise in Leisure, Tourism and Hospitality, Breda University of Applied Sciences, the European Tourism Futures Institute and the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, models the impact of different interventions, including technological advances, electrification and alternative fuels. The report shows these could have the greatest impact on reducing CO2 in the decades ahead. The aim of the report is to provide signatories of the global initiative, the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, with a positive vision of tourism which achieves net zero by 2050.
We have delayed action for too long, and as a result, our options have narrowed. There is a huge opportunity for travel and tourism in a decarbonising world, but we must act with urgency and unite in our vision for a “good” transition.Jeremy Sampson, The Travel Foundation CEO
“Our starting point for this research was the need to better understand, or “envision”, how the travel and tourism world will look in 2030 and beyond, as we transition towards a net zero emissions economy. Our intention is not to prescribe a roadmap or set of measures. We explicitly explored scenarios in which travel and tourism’s projected growth could be compatible with achieving the climate targets laid out in the Glasgow Declaration, which stem from the Paris Agreement”, explained the Travel Foundation’s CEO Jeremy Sampson.
The researchers describe a global scenario where the shape of tourism shifts, as future growth comes from the areas of tourism most ready to decarbonise. For instance, a traveller might take the same number or more trips a year, but they will typically be travelling shorter distances, opening up opportunities for businesses to target closer-proximity travellers. As well as flying, they will use more rail, electric cars, coach and ferry options for their holidays. Those who travel long-haul will take fewer long-distance trips but are more likely to stay longer, in energy efficient accommodation.
The task is enormous, but taking action as soon as possible will allow effective results to be achieved in the medium and long term.Verónica Kunze, Undersecretary of Tourism, Government of Chile
Chief among the report’s recommendations is the need to include all emissions in tourism’s decarbonisation efforts. With few exceptions, international aviation emissions are not included in national Paris Agreement commitments, which distorts decision-making and disincentivises investment in the most effective solutions. The report also calls for a global plan to optimise tourism’s growth and distribution flows in a way that is equitable and compatible with climate targets, given that limits on the number of flights are needed. Without this, in the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, the report modelling shows that emissions from longest-haul flights will quadruple by 2050, accounting for 41% of tourism’s total emissions, yet only 4% of trips.
This new research helps us better understand our collective path forward and align around action.Tessa Lee, Senior Manager, Climate and Sustainability, Expedia Group
“There is so much at stake if we continue with a business-as-usual approach to development. For small island developing states like those in the Pacific Island region, it is as simple as ensuring that regional, national and business level climate resilience targets and actions are integrated into tourism policy and plans and are well funded. This is a good starting point”, stressed Christina Leala Gale, from the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO).
In addition, alternative forms of transport such as rail, ferry, coach and electric cars will require major investment. The report highlights implications for each industry sector to consider, including aviation, rail, tour operators, accommodation providers, tourist boards and the car and ferry industries, as well as the need to influence other key sectors which tourism relies on.
Lastly, the report urges organisations in the tourism industry to sign the Glasgow Declaration, fully account for all tourism’s emissions within climate action plans and start identifying and providing low and net zero tourism options.