To the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Summit in Manila this week, industry leaders and tourism professionals came together to celebrate the growing and successful return of global travel. As travel returns, a major theme of the tourism conference centered around sustainability and improving eco-friendly operations.
It is no coincidence that the WTTC launched a 12 Point Hotel Sustainability Initiative the same week as Earth Day. The criteria, dubbed “Hotel Sustainable Basics”, are designed to promote responsible tourism and minimize environmental impact while creating an industry standard for hotels of all sizes to follow.
Among the action steps for hotels, there are many things they can already do, but these guidelines are meant to serve as a first step for hotels that may not already have a plan in place. of solid sustainable development.
The list includes finding ways to measure and reduce energy, water use, waste and carbon emissions. The plan encourages the development of a laundry reuse program, the elimination of plastic straws, single-use plastic water bottles and stirrers, bulk amenities dispensers in bathrooms as well as more community and environmental projects.
Many hotel companies are already expressing their support for the initiative and committing, at a minimum, to following the 12 steps. They include Radisson Hotel Group, Accor, Meliá Hotels International, and hospitality industry associations around the world like the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.
Hotels that put these measures in place will receive verification from the WTTC, which the organization hopes will become a global standard.
Travel is making a comeback
The global conference, which brought together tourism and hospitality leaders from around the world, took place in a hybrid virtual and in-person format. Beyond the environmental announcement, the travel organization published an economic impact report pointing to positive signs in tourism.
The report projects that 126 million new travel-related jobs will be created over the next decade. In 2020 alone, the industry lost 62 million jobs, so the new jobs represent a significant change in fortune for a sector that has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new jobs represent a $9.6 trillion boost to the global economy, twice the size of the 2020 record low, when the industry was worth $4.8 trillion. Travel and tourism now accounts for up to 10% of global GDP and accounts for one in three new jobs in the global economic recovery.
The report also predicted that travel and tourism GDP could reach pre-pandemic levels by 2023. Not surprisingly, the regions that experienced the fastest recovery were destinations where the government lifted or eased restrictions. restrictions like Greece, Maldives and Florida.
According to WTTC and ForwardKeys, travel bookings grew by double digits in the first two quarters of the year, with seven of the ten most popular destinations being located in Latin America and the Caribbean. The data also shows an increase in trips to India and Pakistan representing “visiting friends or relatives” (VFR) trips.
WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson was one of many leaders at the event calling for an end to testing requirements to enter countries like the United States. Instead, she and others believe the way forward is through vaccination and booster requirements rather than onerous restrictions.
Another major talking point is finding a global standard for checking vaccination status and cleaning up the confusing paperwork and hodgepodge of requirements haphazardly put in place by different countries.
In the wake of such global disruption, travel represents a force for global good as it can boost economies and expand connectivity between cultures. WTTC data is fueling positive momentum on the sustainability and global health fronts as the travel industry strives to heal itself.