Happy World Tourism Day! Let’s have a look at the carbon-cutting companies of tourism.

September 27, 2020


Happy World Tourism Day!

Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has celebrated World Tourism Day on September 27. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the role tourism plays and demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political, and economic values worldwide.

As you likely know, tourism has been among the sectors that have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

”According to UNWTO [World Travel Organization] estimates, global international tourist arrivals in 2020 could fall by 20 to 30 percent compared to last year. That translates into a loss of $30-$50 billion in spending by international visitors.

To put that in context, in 2009, on the back of the global financial crisis, international tourist arrivals fell by 4 percent, while the SARS pandemic in 2003 led to a decline of just 0.4 percent.” – United Nations, 17 April 2020

Around the world, restrictions on travel and a sudden drop in consumer demand have led to a never before seen drop in tourism. The consequences have been many and included economic losses and job losses. But it has also resulted in a noticeable drop in carbon emissions and a rise in air quality.

Therefore, we want to take the opportunity to use this World Tourism Day to reflect on the future of tourism. Specifically, we want to look at solutions and at companies that are addressing the current problems.

One example of this is Travalyst. Led by The Duke of Sussex, Travalyst is a global initiative founded by Booking.com, Skyscanner, Trip.com Group, Tripadvisor, and Visa, with the aim to lower the environmental impact of traveling. This includes Protecting wildlife, Preserving the environment while securing a continued growth in tourism, and thriving local communities.

Air travel and carbon emissions

A company that has committed to curbing its carbon emissions is Heathrow Airport. With their Heathrow 2.0 plan, they are focusing on 12 objectives that address their environmental footprint. As well, Heathrow Airport is looking at its role in developing solutions for the industry as a whole.

This covers everything from waste reduction and recycling to investment in low-impact jet fuel. Furthermore, Heathrow airport has partnered with CHOOOSE to make it easier for travelers to offset their carbon footprint. That means that instead of doing a lot of complex calculations about your journey’s carbon emissions and then going to another platform to offset them, you can do it all in one go.

You can read more about the Heathrow 2.0 plan here, including their emission offsetting.

Another player in the tourism industry is Norwegian Air.

Norwegian Air became the first airline to sign the Climate Neutral Now pledge, committing to becoming climate neutral by 2050. Using their data on CO2 emissions, instead of previous estimates, allowed Norwegian Air to put a more accurate price on emissions – which turns out to be significantly lower prices than what the traveler usually meets in other carbon offsetting programs.

Putting a price that is both accurate and affordable on carbon helps drive more action and more ambition at all levels of society, for business as well as pleasure.

Another interesting player is finn.no. This Norwegian company has launched a feature to show travelers the flight routes with the lowest CO2-emissions. We think this is a great way to find emission light alternatives to your travel plans.

And of course, the technologies of tourism and transportation are always changing. An interesting news story about how we travel comes from the world of flights.

Airbus has revealed three concepts for the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft which could enter service by 2035. This is a great example of how technology is always changing, and how we can move towards low, or even low, impact journeys.

“Norwegian has been named one of the world's most environmentally friendly airlines and we are continuously working to reduce our emissions through new initiatives. We’re now putting a price on actual carbon emissions from flying, making it easy for all our customers to take climate action,”

- Geir Karlsen, Acting CEO of Norwegian

The SGD’s of tourism

A common theme for both these initiatives is that they take into account the United

Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Not just internally in their corporations, but by actively teaming up with partners, like CHOOOSE, who make sure that their projects are verified and support the SDGs.

By investing in solutions and projects that support the SDGs, we are investing in a better future for all of us.

Yes, the tourism sector is taking a hit these days, and it’s becoming apparent where the industry needs to change. But tourism can be a tool to help us move beyond the pandemic by bringing people together and promoting solidarity and sustainable development.

We can do this by focusing on better practices and a continued effort to lower our environmental footprint.

For energy-intensive activities like commercial air travel, technology constraints make it difficult to reach carbon-free airplanes – at least they likely won’t be available until mid-century.

This means that efforts to curb climate change can’t be dependent on technological advances. We have to neutralize the greenhouse gas emissions we emit today, while we build carbon-light infrastructure for tomorrow.

Do you know of any great initiatives or players who are doing a great job to lower emissions within tourism? Please share with us in the comment field in our latest Instagram post!