The travel industry must make and communicate progress on sustainability to avoid “swingeing taxes that will make international travel once again a luxury for the rich only”.
That was the warning from Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer, who told the association’s Travel Convention: “Meeting the sustainability challenge head on is not only a political necessity, but also a commercial one.”
He said: “In the UK the travel industry needs to make and communicate progress in carbon reduction to prove we are truly committed to the government’s carbon reduction imperative.
“Otherwise, we face the prospect of swingeing emissions taxes that will make international travel once again a luxury, there for the rich only.”
He added: “Customer confidence, which has taken a knock anyway over the past 18 months – is essential to our industry’s recovery and future prosperity. And part of that confidence is confidence to travel with a good conscience.”
Tanzer said: “It’s not just customers who are demanding high sustainability standards, but employees, too. And residents in destinations. And, increasingly, investors. All our most important stakeholders, in fact.”
Tanzer also addressed a demonstration outside the convention by animal welfare campaign Peta.
He said: “Those of you who are here in person today cannot have missed the demonstration outside the building, calling on Abta to discourage the promotion of marine parks. Abta has been active in the area of animal welfare since 2013, when we published a series of animal welfare guides, compiled with input from many zoologists and non-governmental organisations.
“These guides set out basic welfare requirements – and unacceptable practices – where animals and tourism intersect. They are now used internationally by tour operators to work with attractions.
“Now is not the time to go into the issue of marine parks in detail, except to say that professional opinion is divided. Abta makes available to our members the relevant and current research, to allow them to make an informed decision as to whether to market these attractions.”