Travel Weekly says

Keep up the green work

The concept of former Conservative leader Michael Howard being a catalyst for change may be a novel one.

However, the challenge he laid down to the industry at this week’s Institute of Travel and Tourism conference to take united action on the environmental impact of tourism was as critical as it was timely.

The Green Debate, as championed by Travel Weekly, was the overriding theme of the conference. Speakers and delegates came back to the environmental question and the role the sector has to play in tackling and promoting responsible tourism.

Travel Weekly has stated before how essential it is for the industry to set out its own vision and policies on managing the environment issue before the regulatory authorities step in. When Howard says it is vital this sector puts its house in order or risk Government regulation, we should take notice.

The issue now is how capable is this sector of speaking with one voice. All our representative bodies will no doubt want to have their say, but talking is one thing, doing is another. This is not an issue that can be hampered by the political posturing of our trade associations.

The Federation of Tour Operators is taking a lead with its new sustainability guidelines and training support for suppliers, hotels and operators. It has drawn a line in the sand and it makes sense for other interested parties to fall in line behind it. Education has to be a central element in how this industry takes on the green challenge, both at resort level and back on the shop floor with agents.

But we all also need to be doing everything we can to promote a strong, positive message to the public, the media and to government that this is an issue the travel industry is on top of and tackling in a responsible way.

An environmental task force that brought together the key stakeholders from across the industry would be a big step forward in devising and presenting a united front.

Travel Weekly would be happy to play its part in working with any such body and help it to promote its work both within and outside the sector. We cannot afford to let this issue fall off the travel agenda.

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