Tourism for Tomorrow has to balance the needs of ‘people, planet and profits’ and consider the consumption of resources and possible impacts on society and the wider world.
That will be the strong message from world-renowned environmental speakers to more than eight hundred senior private and public executives from the tourism industry at the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit in Abu Dhabi.
The Global Summit at the Jumeirah at Eithad Towers will include a keynote address from president Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd president of the United States.
Speakers including Daryl Hannah, American actress and activist, Jonathan Porritt, founder director, Forum for the Future, David de Rothschild, adventurer and environmentalist, Laura Turner Seydel, Captain Planet Foundation, Costas Christ, chairman of the Judges, Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and Dr Christoph Weber, chief executive, Jatro will be among the other speakers.
They will be discussing what the industry can do to ensure it impacts natural and cultural environments in a positive way, provides benefits to all sectors of society, attracts and develops a skilled workforce to support growing demand, stimulates consumer demand for sustainable products and uses the latest technology to find innovative solutions to future challenges.
WTTC president David Scowsill: “There are many great examples of companies developing initiatives to respond to sustainability issues.
“However, there is still a lot of work to be done. Economic crises and global uncertainty are creating pressures to focus on short-term concerns at the cost of a long-term approach to company success.
“Tourism for Tomorrow goes beyond the ‘green’ agenda and, instead, is a holistic vision for the sustainable development of tourism into the future.
“The industry needs to raise the bar on the issue and set a clear path. Industry activities need to be centred around the four key principles of accountability, leadership, innovation, and collaboration.
“Our discussions at the Global Summit will help to bring the industry together to speak with one voice and recognise a common outlook.
“Through collaboration, the industry can amplify its individual efforts by taking advantage of shared knowledge and industry efficiency.”
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, which is hosting the Summit along with Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national carrier, says a sustainable tourism industry is at the heart of the emirate’s tourism strategy.
HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, TCA Abu Dhabi, explained: “The quest for sustainability is part of the Authority’s DNA and is evidenced by our industry-wide EHSMS programme which has seen significant reductions in water, power and waste savings across the destination’s hospitality sector, our Green Hotel guidelines and our ongoing efforts to foster tourism career opportunities for Emiratis via initiatives such as our Tourism Youth Summer Camp and the Abu Dhabi Ambassador programme.”
For Tourism for Tomorrow to be realised, WTTC believes the industry must:
- Be accountable – Industry should take responsibility for their impacts, measure and monitor them accordingly and report these impacts openly to ensure transparency.
- Show leadership – Companies should be public about their sustainability commitments, from CEO and Board level downwards, while encouraging high standards as a normal part of doing business and delivering solid projects on the ground to drive change.
- Stimulate investment – By integrating and committing investment in sustainable solutions into companies’ long term strategies, while still leveraging other investment avenues like public funds, the industry can ensure that solutions are developed and magnified.
- Collaborate- Businesses should identify new partners and ways of collaborating while expanding their networks and speaking with ‘one voice’ on sustainability issues.
The Summit will also be an opportunity to recognise tourism businesses, which are flying the flag for sustainable practices. WTTC’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards is one of the highest accolades in the global tourism industry, recognising sustainable tourism best practices in businesses and destinations worldwide.
Award applications were received this year from 46 countries, representing all continents.
Finalists in four categories have been selected, ranging from entire countries, to global hotel groups, international airlines, luxury tour operators and small eco-lodges.
A winner from each category will be announced at the 2013 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, which will take place between 19:30-20:20 at the Emirates Palace on Tuesday April 9th 2013.
The finalists, from which the four winners will be chosen, are as follows:
Destination Stewardship nominees, who have successfully implemented a sustainable tourism programme at the destination level, incorporating social, cultural, environmental, and economic benefits as well as multi-stakeholder engagement:
- Peaks of the Balkans - Municipality of Peja, Kosovo
- Sentosa Development Corporation, Singapore
- Tourism Council of Bhutan, Bhutan
Global Tourism Business nominees, who represent international companies with at least 500 employees, and eight tourism enterprises in one or more countries, where achievements combine corporate success with sustainable tourism principles and practices:
- Abercrombie & Kent, USA
- Air New Zealand, New Zealand
- ITC Hotels, India
Conservation Award nominees, who have made a direct and tangible contribution to the preservation of nature, including the protection of wildlife, expanding and restoring natural habitat, and supporting biodiversity conservation:
- &Beyond, South Africa
- The Bushcamp Company, Zambia
- Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Australia
Community Benefit Award nominees, whose companies and organisations directly benefit local people, supporting community development and enhancing cultural heritage:
- Loola Adventure Resort, Indonesia
- Siraj Center, Palestine
- Ten Knots Development Corporation/El Nido Resorts, Philippines