The United Nations climate conference COP26 in Glasgow could be a huge turning point for the role of sustainability in tourism, says british data analytics and consulting firm GlobalData. According to the company, the tourism industry is in an unprecedented recovery process, and with many private sector companies now committing to more transparent actions around reducing emissions, more tangible results around sustainability could be seen during the next decade.
In a recent GlobalData poll, 45% of respondents stated that the environment was the most important factor out of the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors.
New environmental commitments may carry more weight due to the position the tourism industry is currently in. A recovery process such as this has never been seen in tourism, and the industry is still in the thick of it. International tourism arrivals are not expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels until 2024, according to GlobalData forecasts.
Ralph Hollister, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Not having to deal with high levels of tourism demand means that it is an ideal time for public and private sectors to reset operations to make them more environmentally sustainable, and to also enhance communication and relationships between one another. Having these sectors working in harmony increases the chances of sustainability commitments being met in tourism.“
The UNWTO has gathered hundreds of private sector operators from across the world to commit to the Glasgow Declaration, as part of COP26. This Declaration is aimed at grouping the highly fragmented tourism sector behind a single, enveloping goal of halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2050 at the latest. Each signatory will then commit to the delivery of an all-encompassing climate action plan, or updated plan, within 12 months of putting pen to paper.