The second World Tourism Forum Lucerne got under way this afternoon with an opening event hosted by its General Manager, Prof. Martin Barth. The three-day international summit is fully dedicated to the topic “Sustainability in tourism: Challenges, pathways and intelligent business models” and 230 members from 30 countries have travelled to Lucerne to participate.
The Swiss Museum of Transport has become the venue for 230 executives and experts from business, government, academia and finance from 30 countries who will be here until Friday. They will present their ideas and participate in interactive breakout sessions, workshops, and a World Café in order to develop proposals for joint action to be taken in the area of sustainability. A study around the world, conducted especially for the Forum and sponsored by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, has shown that leisure travellers would, in principle, like to contribute in all the sustainability dimensions but are not yet willing to pay significantly more for a “sustainable” holiday. The findings of the study will be presented at the Forum
tomorrow before they are published.
Following the Mayor of Lucerne’s introductory remarks, CEO James Hogan, who heads the ambitious Etihad Airways operating out of Abu Dhabi, gave the first presentation. He explained how he intends to bring his company’s ambitious growth objectives in line with increasingly stringent environmental standards. Prof. Tim Jackson, a member of the UK
Sustainable Development Commission and a government advisor, on the other hand was of the opinion that business policy should pursue objectives aimed at prosperity rather than growth. He developed specific examples to show how prosperity without growth is possible in our society, while repeatedly drawing parallels with the tourism industry.
The opening event concluded with a panel discussion featuring Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism of South Africa, and Jürg Schmid, Director of Tourism Switzerland that led to a lively exchange – moderated by Adrian Finighan, British journalist and reporter for the television channel Al Jazeera English – and highlighted the powerful role that growth plays in our current economic model. The industry experts agreed that this one-sided approach will need to change if the ideas of sustainability are to be taken seriously.