As the tourism industry is vast in scale its negative environmental impact is vast. According to Nature Climate Change, a monthly peer-reviewed journal, tourism is responsible for nearly one-tenth of the world’s carbon emissions.

Although many operators in the field are becoming more sustainable, such as the TUI Group and Virgin Atlantic. For example, TUI Group designed a sustainable strategy and one of the objectives includes committing to delivering ten million greener holidays by the end of 2020. Many more must follow suit if the environmental impact of tourism is to be properly addressed.

A trend is emerging for tourists to opt for sustainable companies which means less sustainable companies will lose out to rivals. According to GlobalData’s Covid-19 week 2 recovery global consumer survey, 77% of respondents stated how ethical / environmentally-friendly / socially-responsible the product / service is ‘always’, ‘often’ or ‘somewhat’ impacts their purchasing decision.

Pre Covid-19, 46% of global respondents stated a preference for products / services which are better for the environment or are animal-friendly (GlobalData’s 2019 Q3 consumer survey). This highlights that travellers’ perceptions have changed during Covid-19.

Overtourism has been a major concern for the tourism industry for a number of years now. From Amsterdam to Bali, local residents have been overwhelmed by the constant influx of travellers, creating an array of negative environmental, social and economic impacts in the process.

When lockdowns and travel restrictions were eased, photos and videos went viral showing the impacts that humans have on the Earth. According to Carbon Brief, the pandemic temporarily cut CO2 emissions in China by 25%, highlighting the positive impact that a reduction in human traffic can create.

However, these same places are more than eager to welcome tourists again but with the understanding that this is an opportunity to better develop sustainable opportunities. In destinations like Venice, for example, officials are now planning to revamp tourism entirely with sustainability at the core of their plans.

For many tourism companies, the ‘new norma’ will involve sustainability being a core value that underpins the entire business structure. There is huge potential to boost the drained economies of destinations that implement sustainability initiatives. Those companies and destinations which exhibit strong green credentials will then be well-placed to become market leaders in a trend that will get bigger and bigger.

There is an opportunity for the promotion of ecotourism in destinations that don’t attract a specific type of traveller. According to GlobalData’s 2019 Q3 consumer survey, 15% of respondents stated they typically undertake eco holidays. Although this is a minority, it shows that there is huge potential for growth.

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