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What’s the airline industry going to do about its effect on the environment?” my cousin asked me at a recent holiday get-together.
“Don’t forget the cruise lines,” someone else chimed in. “Travel in general has a major impact.”
Neither person is involved in travel or has previously shown much interest in the topic — beyond asking where they should take their next vacation. So, their direct questions surprised me.
I answered as thoughtfully as I could, pointing to new developments in technology and best practices. But complicated answers rarely satisfy simple questions, and it was clear that I lost their attention, and they were on to more important holiday conversation topics (like what’s the deal with Baby Yoda).
Now that we’ve turned the page on a new year — and a new decade — it seems clear that this conversation is going to be repeated over and over. In the past, when someone heard I worked in the travel industry, we usually talked about our favorite destinations and experiences. But moving forward, the word “travel” is going to lead directly to questions about sustainability, corporate responsibility and cost/reward propositions.
Of course, the questions are understandable, and the difficult conversations will eventually (hopefully) lead us all to a better future. So, the only thing travel advisors can do is prepare themselves for the discussion: Learn all you can about travel’s effect on the environment and the solutions being developed.
Travel suppliers, in the meantime, will need to have a clear understanding of their company’s sustainability guidelines, and be up to date on some of the positive initiatives they’re taking.
Here at TravelAge West, we’ll do our part to highlight the issues at play and the good work being done by innovative companies. Sustainability in travel will be an even bigger focus for us in the years ahead, as we provide readers with the information they need to engage in serious discussions with clients.