As the travel and tourism industry continues to grow, there is an increased emphasis on responsible travel. During WTM 2011 Technology and Online Travel exhibitor SustainIt, the leading software and data consultancy that specializes in sustainability performance, surveyed more than 200 WTM participants. This was to understand the industry’s experiences of sustainability and responsible tourism and work out whether the industry really is engaging in the principles of sustainability.
More than seven out of ten industry professionals, including hoteliers, airlines, resorts, and tourist attractions, believe the travel and tourism industry could do more to reduce poverty and support sustainable local economic development in destination communities. Only 18 percent of companies questioned have sustainable supply chains and procurement policies in place.
An increasing number of companies offer their customers carbon offsets, but only 26 percent 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 percent of employees not knowing if they had any targets or objectives to meet in these areas.
When WTM delegates were asked to identify the key responsible tourism issue for 2012, the survey ranked “Increasing employee and customer engagement in sustainability” as the top issue, with only 29 percent of respondents believing their company is doing enough to promote sustainability and responsible travel/tourism to its employees and customers.
These two statistics coincide to unveil that the industry is informed and aware of sustainability on one hand but has a lack of employee and customer engagement on the other hand.
SustainIT Managing Director Charlie Stockford explained: “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.
“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.”
Reed Travel Exhibitions Chairman of World Travel Market and pioneer of responsible tourism, Fiona Jeffery, expressed that the key observations revealed are ultimately the key reasons why WTM World Responsible Tourism Day - an international day of action dedicated to help protect the world – was formed.
“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 behavior with the travel and tourism industry and traveling public.”