Not to put too fine a point on it, but the climate emergency is a bigger threat than the global pandemic. That was the blunt message delivered by Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of UNWTO at the UNWTO, WTTC & WTM Ministers’ Summit at WTM London.
Pololikashvili also told the gathering that the pandemic has hit tourism harder than any other sector and the industry needs support from governments, through stronger public-private partnerships and through more and better-targeted financing investments, to rebuild in a sustainable and inclusive way.
“This summit gives us the chance to strengthen our advocacy on sustainability.” Said Pololikashvili.
He also pointed out that the recent Rome Leaders Declaration issued by the G20 specifically emphasized the need to restore travel and tourism, which in turn can help developing economies.
Pololikashvili noted that public investment will “encourage and leverage” private investment all over the world, adding: “Tourism can benefit if governments deliver the right support.
Said Pololikashvili: ““Going back to the old normal is not an option.”
He also said tourism represents a risk-free investment opportunity and highlighted the need to invest in education and youth on the way to net zero.
The UNWTOand other tourism and travel stakeholders will officially launch the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 on Nov. 4.
The WTTC is also planning to launch its Net Zero Roadmap for Travel & Tourism, to support the industry in combatting climate change, as part of the sector’s drive towards net zero by 2050.
The initiative is being run in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and professional services and consulting experts Accenture.
Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, told the summit that: “We have no alternative; we have to go green.”
Simpson said that sustainable growth is a key priority for WTTC, adding: “Investors and the public demand that we invest to protect the planet and people. We need to invest in making sure destinations are great places to live and not just great places to visit.”
The United Kingdom’s Minister of Tourism, Nigel Huddleston said that: “The partnership between private and public sectors is spurred by the consumer.”
He said his government can offer tax incentives to encourage sustainable developments, such as deductions for solar power and electric vehicle charging points.