Responsible Travel: Industry needs to do more

A newly released survey reports that the global travel and tourism industry could do more for responsible and sustainable tourism. Conducted by SustainIt during the 2011 World Travel Market in London, the survey found that more than 7 out of 10 industry professionals — including hoteliers, airlines, resorts and tourist attractions — believed the industry could do more to reduce poverty and support sustainable local economic development in destination communities. It also found that only 18% of companies questioned had sustainable supply chains and procurement policies in place. The survey also found that while an increasing number of companies offer their customers carbon offsets, only 26% of companies were looking at their own carbon footprint. Six out of ten industry professionals asked felt their company could do more to promote sustainability overall, with only 29% of employees not knowing if they had an targets or objectives to meet in these areas. In fact, the survey reported that when WTM delegates were asked to identify the key responsible tourism issue for 2012, increasing employee and customer engagement in sustainability was the top issue — with only 29% of respondents believing their company is doing enough to promote sustainability and responsible travel/tourism to its employees and customers. Charlie Stockford, managing director of SustainIT, observed: “Our survey shows that whilst there is increasing activity and concern around sustainable and responsible travel and tourism within the trade, many employees are not aware of what their own company is trying to achieve and therefore are unable to share it with their customers.” Stockford continued: “We really hope that 2012 is a year where businesses start communicating and engaging far more with their employees about their sustainability and responsible travel programs and that those companies who are just starting out realize the real positive impact a good sustainability program can make to both their profitability and to the future of our planet.” Fiona Jeffery, a pioneer in the area of responsible tourism and chairman of WTM, said: “Travel companies, destinations and professionals worldwide recognize that responsible tourism offers a valuable and exciting new dimension to travel and tourism. With this in mind, one of the key objectives of WTM WRTD is to help drive change by educating more responsible behaviour with the travel and tourism industry and travelling public.” This year, the WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Day will take place on Wed., Nov. 7 at WTM, ExCeL London. Go to or for more.