CEO’s Perspective

Justin Francis, Responsible Travel

Despite our best intentions, our supply chains – particularly if they include intensively produced beef, dairy, soy, palm oil, cocoa, timber and pulp, or hotels or cruise lines with poor environmental standards – are destroying nature and wildlife.

And yet, in many ways, tourism is ideally placed to contribute to the restoration of nature. We should be confident and ambitious in working to achieve this. The breadth of our relationships in destinations, and supply chains comprising accommodations, local activity providers, visitor attractions, transport services, nature reserves and food providers create opportunities for collaborations to deliver very significant change.

We are one of the world’s largest employers (more than 330m people globally) and must use the jobs and livelihoods that we create - including those for less well educated or advantaged groups - to maximum effect in delivering the economic justification for conservation locally.

As we all know, transportation, especially by air, is a significant and growing contributor to global heating. There are two sides to addressing the climate crisis. The first: reducing the carbon we emit, and the second: restoring the planet’s ability to absorb it – which we contribute to by becoming nature positive.

In terms of carbon reduction, the aviation sector is working hard on its route map to Net Zero by 2050, which will require significant innovation and investment in new fuels in both the short (second generation sustainable aviation fuels) and longer term (synthetic fuels); but we’ll need to change our travel habits too and prioritise lower carbon options. Cruise lines too are starting their journey to reducing their environmental impacts.

As a sector we have enormous potential to help protect forests and peat lands, and to protect and create more nature reserves on land and at sea – which we are in tourism are already massive supporters of globally.

Nature never fails to inspire. Much of what we do in hotel design, the creation of walking tours, festivals, visitor centres, spas and scenic tours is drawn from it. We can return the favour by inspiring the world’s 1.5bn international and 9bn domestic tourists a year to take care of nature, both on their travels and at home.