The boss of easyJet Holidays said he is planning future destinations based on the operator’s ability to make a positive impact on local economies.
Being relatively new, the operator does not have a legacy of destinations that it traditionally serves, so it can look at places where it “can really make a difference”, said chief executive Garry Wilson.
Talking about sustainability during London Travel Week, ahead of WTM Virtual, he said: “I am a passionate exponent of responsible tourism and the economic, social and environmental impact of tourism in our destinations.
“The strength of the easyJet network means we have so many aircraft and fly to many of the secondary and smaller destinations and some of those areas have fantastic offerings from a tourism perspective but they never get the headlines or attention that others get.
“I am an exponent of getting behind those. We can start to make positive impact.”
Talking to WTM’s responsible tourism advisor, Harold Goodwin, he said the Covid-19 crisis had highlighted the importance of communities working together – and the vital role of outbound tourism in supporting economies in many destinations.
The operator also has younger clients than traditional tour operators, so its customers want to experience the “culture and authenticity” of destinations.
“We will weather this storm and rebuild. We have a responsibility to get behind those people and economies as soon as possible as soon as we get flying,” he said.
Talking about aviation’s carbon emissions, he said the argument of “just don’t fly” was not a solution because the pandemic had shown the negative impact of having no tourists in destinations.
Furthermore, the way that Covid-19 has affected everyone’s daily lives may make people think more about climate change, he said.
“Climate change is getting closer to affecting our daily lives. It’s all about individual behaviour and acting together,” he said.
“We all need to take climate change seriously and think about our individual contribution, tour operators and companies that take us on holiday.”
Wilson also talked about how easyJet Holidays staff had dealt with lockdown and working from home, especially as winter is now drawing in.
“We have seen anxieties, it’s longer and more challenging,” he said.
“Temporary steps such as laptop on a pile of books on the kitchen table are not sustainable – I needed to make sure that they have the equipment that they need and they take take time out.
“We are quite a small team but try to look out for each other.
“I encourage people to take their holidays, as it is still important to take that time to relax and decompress.”