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Is sustainability really a priority for travel professionals?

November’s World Travel Market (WTM) questioned travel professionals about their commitment to sustainability

More than a quarter of travel professionals (27%) said sustainability is their number one priority, with a further 43% saying it was in the top three.

The findings from WTM London research were from a survey of 700 industry executives from around the globe, as well as 1,000 UK travellers.

Around one in five (22%) industry professionals say they are aware of sustainability’s importance, but do not rank it among their top three priorities, and 7% admitted it was not currently part of their business thinking at all.

The findings were revealed as world leaders met in Glasgow for Cop26, the United Nations’ annual climate change conference.

WTM London has been at the forefront of sustainable tourism for several years and has held a dedicated programme for responsible tourism at every event since 1994.

The survey of 1,000 British travellers found that four in 10 claim to have used carbon offsetting; 8% said they offset every flight, with 15% doing so most of the time, 16% some of the time.

The remaining 24% replied that they did not even know what carbon offsetting means

Furthermore, 78% attached some level of importance to the environment and sustainability. About one in five (18%) said the issues were extremely important, almost one in four (23%) opted for quite important; and just over a third (38%) describe these issues as “somewhat important”.

Simon Press, exhibition director at WTM London, said: “While we are proud of WTM’s decades-long efforts to lead the debate around sustainable and responsible tourism, we are not complacent. These findings show that we still have some way to get the industry fully on board with our vision for a sustainable and responsible tourism future.

“If anything, we need to shout even louder. The climate emergency is not going away and the need to stop the planet from warming up is critical. But the travel industry also needs to be active in promoting diversity, inclusivity and economic benefits if we want the travelling public, governments and regulators to see travel and tourism as a force for good, rather than something to be targeted and taxed.

“Cop26 will bring sustainability to the top of the news agenda, and the travel industry needs to convert this interest into action.”

 

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