The global travel industry provides 319 million jobs and accounts for 10.4% of the global GDP. Tourism and hospitality are generally seen as important economic drivers, but the challenges are significant, with the industry’s growth overwhelming local resources and infrastructure, raising costs of homes, threatening the environment, and even causing social unrest.
According to a new report by travel technology company Amadeus (developed in conjunction with Palladium), it is possible to grow the travel industry in a way that’s sustainable and actually benefits stakeholders.
“We have to find a balance among local communities, the environment, and tourists that ensures that all stakeholders see a positive impact from tourism, while preserving our world’s most unique places,” says Eduardo Tugendhat, Palladium’s Director of Thought Leadership. “A more inclusive approach to tourism can be good for business, society, and the environment.”
The report outlines four ways to harness greater positive impact through travel:
1. Manage Overcrowded Destinations
By 2020, the top 20 tourist destinations will have more visitors than the rest of the world put together. Overcrowding is one of the largest challenges in tourism and it’s having a huge negative impact on some of the world’s most popular destinations. Some destinations are finding solutions – for example, Barcelona is building a collaborative forum that brings together businesses, citizens, and government to debate and agree on tourism objectives and approaches. Those in the travel industry can also help better manage tourism by working together, enhancing and promoting less popular attractions and facilitating coordination between transport providers and hotels to optimise travel flows.
2. Engage and Create Opportunities for Local Communities
Only 5% of the revenue generated by vacations stays within the destination. However, when hotels and travel providers engage local communities to provide more authentic guest experiences, this not only differentiates them from competitors, but may contribute to increased spending, the preservation of local culture, and improvement of activities available to the local population. Enhancing the skills and entrepreneurial opportunities for more marginalized population segments to work in the hospitality industry will help improve entire communities.
“The hospitality business can help itself by proactively collaborating with training providers.” says Tugendhat. “It’s a win-win.”
3. Embrace Diversity
There are over 1.5 billion people traveling internationally, with increasing numbers from emerging economies and aging populations. Travel providers should focus on accessibility, personalised experiences, and making travel more affordable. For example, the European Commission has launched a transnational exchange project to fill-in the low-tourist season that targets young people, seniors, underprivileged families, and persons with disabiliites.
4. Put the Environment at the Heart of Travel
Travel makes up 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions, and yet 87% of travellers want to travel sustainably. Airlines are using new technologies, like hybrid electric engines, to reduce fuel consumption. Ecotourism is growing rapidly and could make up a quarter of the tourism industry. Done well, ecotourism supports preservation, especially when it incentivises local communities to preserve assets such as forests, reefs, and bio-diversity.
Governments and the hospitality industry can also work together to agree on standards and eco-friendly practices. Benchmarking performance by different companies and destinations against these standards and best practices would inform consumers, and communities, thus encouraging adherence to best practices.
“More people are traveling, tourism is growing, and we have a great opportunity to harness it to make a positive impact, and improve the lives of everyone involved – as well as our environment,” says Tugendhat.
Click here to download the full report by Amadeus, “Making a Positive Impact on Travel”, prepared in conjunction with Palladium.