What COVID-19 Can Teach the Travel Industry About Sustainability and Climate Change

I’ve been quoted in another well-known travel magazine this week. This time, the cover article of Travelage West, with an article about “What COVID-19 Can Teach the Travel Industry About Sustainability and Climate Change.”

As the article starts (See TravelAge ):

Groups of bears, bobcats and coyotes shoot the breeze near cabins in a seldom silent Yosemite National Park. Residents of Jalandhar, India, are overcome with awe upon seeing the Himalayas from their homes for the first time in decades. An extraordinary number of endangered leatherback sea turtle nests are found on Thailand’s long stretches of sand, which usually swarm with tourists. Los Angeles — where a thick smog is known to cloak the downtown skyline — is now home to some of the cleanest air of any major city. 

These are the few of the headlines grabbing the attention of once-frequent travelers confined to their homes. Scientific data has highlighted additional good news: March saw a 30% decrease in average nitrogen dioxide levels over the northeastern U.S., according to NASA. Meanwhile, Paris-based inter-governmental organization International Energy Agency reports that the world’s carbon dioxide emissions are predicted to plunge 8% this year

The need for a paradigm shift seems clear. We cannot let this momentary blip (in terms of the history of the world) and the short term benefits Mother Earth is reaping be our solution to sustainability and climate change.

As an industry, travel can take steps to become more sustainable. And we can indeed focus on travel being a force for good in the world.

We know that “Travelers Will Go Local and Natural” as the world of travel starts to return. Domestic travel (restricted first, and then more openly) will be the first to return. So, what part of your country can you visit soon?  For those within driving distance, I’d suggest the Shangri La Toronto (see below) for a first outing. But if you’re in Calgary or St. Louis or Orlando, we can certainly work together to find a wonderful Virtuoso hotel close to you.

We do know too that “Tourism Is Still Needed on a Global Scale”. One in ten people worldwide work in travel and tourism, and one in five new jobs worldwide are in my industry too.

And we know that “All Parties Will Be Held Accountable .”

I was proud to contribute to this TravelAge West cover story. As the article notes:

The cruise industry has also taken a huge hit during COVID-19. While in recovery mode, however, cruise lines can seek solutions that encourage confidence in health and safety, as well as sustainability. 

Sheila Gallant-Halloran, owner of Lush Life Travel in Ottawa, Canada, applauds Lindblad Expeditions in particular. In February, the carbon-neutral expedition cruise line became the first self-disinfecting fleet in the industry. It uses a photocatalytic process that breaks down unwanted microbes including bacteria and viruses; the implementation also significantly eliminates use of water and cleaning products in plastic containers.

So, let me know if you’d like to learn more.

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