VisitBritain chief urges governments to act on sustainability

VisitBritain chief urges governments to act on sustainability

VisitBritain chairman Christopher Rodrigues (pictured) has called for governments to standardise reporting on sustainability across the travel and tourism sector.

Addressing the World Tourism Forum in Lucerne on Friday, Rodrigues said: "This is a wonderful industry, but it contains the seeds of its own destruction.
"The challenge we keep coming back to is that we need more sustainable tourism.

"There is no joined-up government in most countries. It is a fragmented industry. We tend to be short-term and you are more likely to be fired for not managing load factors or filling rooms than promoted for a long-term strategy that deals with growth."

Rodrigues said: "Governments need to lead. If governments got behind standardised reporting and insisted on its adoption we would start to see more sustainability."

He added: "Industry leaders need to lead and travellers should be thinking about protection of [tourism] assets."

Greenearth.travel director and former World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) president Geoffrey Lipman said: "We have not put the time, attention or resources into sustainable travel.

"We need to change the way we do business every day, not the way we talk at meetings."

Beyond Green Travel chief executive Costas Christ agreed, saying: "We don't need more conferences and discussions. Sustainability is a global priority. But I meet with about 300 hotels a year and hear [them say] 'That is too expensive, we don't have the budget.'"

Christ described the tourism business model as "flawed" and said: "We have to recognise limits to growth. The sky is not the limit."

However, TripAdvisor director of industry relations Helena Egan told the forum: "Sometimes we make like everything has to change now. But this industry is ahead in a lot of things."

Referring to the TripAdvisor Greenleaders programme, set up two years ago which won a WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Award this month, Egan said: "We wanted to get into sustainability in a way that was easy.

"It's not a certification programme. It just makes you think a little greener. It's one step."

Rodrigues, Egan, Lipman and Christ are among the members of the World Tourism Forum industry Think Tank which met for a day head of last week's forum in Lucerne.

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