Why the North American Travel Association is taking action on climate change

This is a guest post from Lynn Margulis, COO of inbound.travel:

The North American Travel Association has just published a position paper on the role travel and tourism can play in promoting and protecting human and environmental sustainability. It’s one of the first steps we’ve taken in the fight to get our sector, which represents more than 12 million jobs in the U.S. and 200 million worldwide, to become a more transparent part of the solution.

The Traveler Coalition — a nonprofit organization formed by more than 120 hospitality and travel executives — has long been involved in civic engagement, education and research to improve the sustainability of the industry. After working with the CWA and others, we’ve decided that we’ve seen enough of the lobbying and they needed to take a leadership role on the issue.

We believe that governments, as the actual actors in policy-making, need to understand that tourism represents a dynamic, job-creating and aspirational business opportunity. Without making the economy greener, the United States and other developed countries will continue to become increasingly self-sustaining, while developing countries lose a critical revenue source.

“After working with the CWA and others, we’ve decided that we’ve seen enough of the lobbying and they needed to take a leadership role on the issue.”

In fact, at the Global Environment Facility in July 2017, more than 140 chief executives of global companies, organizations and governments came together to sign the Global Business Call to Action, a letter that called for governments to recognize the industry’s role in the global shift to sustainable, climate-smart growth.

And many more companies are committed to bringing their unique solutions to climate action — hoteliers, hotels, airlines, cruise ships, cruise lines, attractions, attractions, travel technology companies and more. A few of the companies signing on to the GBCA letter cited their commitment to sustainability goals such as their smart airline development strategy and business opportunities for green credentials.

We’re not only growing fast but growing green.

The industry recognizes that the lifestyle that is connected to travel is an incredibly important aspect of individual happiness and national identity — the North American Travel Association’s survey finds that a third of the public identifies travel as an important ingredient to personal success and prosperity — and that’s just one industry. As such, many are adopting environmental and climate action goals as part of their strategic efforts and setting examples for others to follow. The GBCA survey shows that “64 percent of respondents reporting green business practices are already seeing an economic impact” for their global efforts to slash waste and lower emissions. Nearly half of the companies in our survey are not only monitoring their environmental, social and security commitments and publicly reporting results, but they’re also making changes in their operations and buying suppliers who have committed to sustainable practices.

As we continue to grow, many companies have taken initiatives that benefit people and the planet. One that jumps to mind is Moxy Hotels, with their Global Better Hotels Index, which gauges the environmental impact of all the hotels in its global network. Another high-profile example is American Airlines, which recently announced the sale of carbon offsets for all of its international flights — more than 120,000 departures a year.

“A combination of responsible tourism-focused initiatives, tougher government policies, and motivated consumers is making a difference,” said CWA President and CEO Roger Dow. “A combination of responsible tourism-focused initiatives, tougher government policies, and motivated consumers is making a difference.”

Travel companies are already “changing the conversation on travel sustainability,” added CEO of CWA Council Barney Moskowitz.

The Traveler Coalition is committed to helping companies lead their public and private constituencies to take this unprecedented consensus on sustainability even further. Whether it’s a move toward responsible and sustainable travel, or reducing the impact of carbon, we want to use our voice to influence the direction of policy-making in this arena.

With CWA leadership, our members have committed to work together in a public, public way to show policymakers that tourism can help address a fundamental and profound change in the global economy. In the next chapter of the effort to make our industry even more climate-smart, companies and the CWA are looking to continue to partner with global leaders, shareholders and media to build a movement to make global action the norm.

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