Sustainable travelling looks a bit like this…You take public transportation to the airport. An electric shuttle brings your luggage to the plane. You board a hybrid-electric plane to your regional destination. Upon arrival, you check into a hotel powered by renewable energy and jump in your room’s water-conserving shower with refillable dispensers of soap.The next day, you catch a train to explore a nearby village, meeting local people who benefit from tourist activities based on their sustainable management of ecosystems
This vision of sustainable tourism is well within our reach, and there are many incentives to realize it.Until relatively recently, international travel was a luxury accessible to few. In 1950, there were only 25 million international tourist arrivals. In 2018, there were 1.4 billion international arrivals worldwide.
Today, tourism generates about 10% of global economic activity and 10% of all employment, about 320 million jobs worldwide. As more people travel, the tourism industry is forecasted to add 100 million new jobs globally over the next 10 years. In short, travel is steadily democratizing, boosting many local and national economies in the process.
But there is a downside.
Tourism already accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the industry’s annual carbon footprint is growing at an annual rate of 4%.
If this continues, tourism could be responsible for 15% of emissions by 2030. And while its share of greenhouse gas emissions pales in comparison with that of energy or heavy industry, any sector growing at this pace needs to get serious about creating a sustainable growth path.
There are some encouraging signs that change is afoot. More than a dozen major companies engaged in the tourism industry have adopted or have committed to adopting science-based targets consistent with meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
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