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Future? What Future?
Thankfully, more and more consumers are demanding accountability in the entire travel and tourism supply chain when it comes to sustainability, and ITB Berlin, in many ways a mirror-reflection of the industry at large, is placing the leaders in the field under the spotlight.
The philosophy of veritable sustainability starts with the work being done by the more conscientious hotel operators, but also wends its way up through the distribution chain. A perfect example is that of Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com, who tells us one of her prime targets at the moment is to foster sustainable tourism. Ms Tans hits the nail on the head when she explains that “… meaningful change can only come about through collaboration on multiple fronts throughout the entire sustainable tourism ecosystem.”
For ITB Berlin, the underpinning and encouragement of sustainability initiatives and corporate social responsibility in travel and tourism are not new, and they have a face. Rika Jean-François is ITB Berlin’s CSR Commissioner, and her role takes on added importance every year. “Our aim is to make use of the unique international platform that ITB offers to give sustainability and responsibility in tourism a voice,” said Ms Jean-Francois. “Against a backdrop of climate change, growing ocean pollution, alarming human rights abuses, overtourism and global warming, the need for this has never been more urgent.”
Overtourism is one topic that numerous speakers will address at the ITB Berlin Convention. The WTTC’s new President and CEO, Gloria Guevara Manzo, will be tabling the new McKinsey report, which calls for a comprehensive long-term plan for the industry. Far from being a simple factor entailing violent local reactions to tourists, Ms Manzo underlines the fact that, “Over-tourism becomes an issue when local residents are impacted or alienated, when the traveller is not having a good experience because of the overcrowding or queues that are too long, when tourism is impacting or damaging the nature, the culture, the heritage… and that the infrastructure can’t keep up with the growing numbers of travellers.”
The industry today has a major responsibility to work towards real sustainability. ITB Berlin is playing a key role in information and support. Where do you stand?
Richard Barnes Editor-in-Chief, ITB Berlin News