Travel trade out of step on climate change, study finds

The travel trade is lagging behind other sectors in its attitude to climate change.

Only one-third of agents and tour operators feel travel has a role to play in limiting global warming, according to a survey by the Institute of Travel and Tourism. A majority oppose government regulation and seven out of 10 admit to not understanding the implications.

The study was carried out by ITT chair of tourism, ­Professor Rhodri Thomas and the questions mirrored a recent survey across a range of sectors by management consultancy Accenture, allowing comparison of the results.

The ITT survey found a fairly even split between those wanting the government to lead on climate change and those favouring a voluntary response. But it notes: “This is in sharp contrast to the Accenture survey, which found 80% of businesses consider it appropriate for government to take the lead.”

However, 43% of agents and operators said travel businesses would not act without government regulation.

A clear majority (57%) did not believe travel has a role in combating warming – whereas Accenture found 70% of businesses accept they have a role.

Just over half the trade believe travel suffers a bad press on the issue – although 36% say it does not. A similar majority (54%) feel threatened by climate change and 70% confess to not understanding the implications, compared with 50% across all sectors of business.

However, almost one-third of agents and operators said they would work for less money if it led to more environmentally friendly business practices.

Thomas described the response rate as disappointing and pointed out little has previously been done to gauge the attitudes of travel businesses.

ABTA head of development and Federation of Tour Operators director-general Andy Cooper said: “It is disappointing there is not more awareness, but the results are not entirely a surprise. Clearly travel has a role in climate change if you include aviation.”

He added: “There are lots of things the industry can do.”

ABTA board member and Britaly Travel partner Daniele Broccoli expressed surprise at the findings, saying: “We are well up on climate change in this industry.” However, he added: “The green issue scares everybody. It is in the press all the time.”

Travel industry opinions on climate change

1. The government should lead in addressing climate change.

  • Agree: 48% 

  • Disagree: 46%

2. Travel will respond without the need for regulation.

  • Agree: 49%  

  • Disagree: 43%

3. Travel has a role to play in controlling global warming.

  • Agree: 34%  

  • Disagree: 57%

4. Travel gets a bad press on climate change.

  • Agree: 52%  

  • Disagree: 36%

5. Travel businesses are threatened by climate change.

  • Agree: 54%  

  • Disagree: 38%

6. Global warming presents opportunities as well as threats.

  • Agree: 64%  

  • Disagree: 32%

7. Travel businesses do not understand the implications of climate change.

  • Agree: 70% 

  • Disagree: 22%

8. I would work for slightly less for a company concerned about the environment.

  • Agree: 34% 

  • Disagree: 56%

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