Tourism will not survive without becoming environmentally sustainable and including a “fair carbon price” in the cost of travel, according to Travel Foundation climate specialist Jeremy Smith.
Smith told the Nîmes forum: “Tourism would be unsustainable if the carbon price was included.
“The problem is we’re not adding a fair carbon price. It will have to be paid by the traveller. Travel has to become more expensive.”
World Travel & Tourism Council head of research Nejc Jus agreed, warning: “If we don’t make destinations sustainable, there won’t be tourism.”
But he added: “Sustainability and growth go hand in hand. If we don’t have tourists go to a destination, there is no positive contribution.”
Zina Bencheikh, Intrepid Travel managing director for the EMEA region, said: “The majority of our customers don’t book holidays with us because of sustainability but because they are good value for money. Yet often they came back and want sustainability.”
She insisted: “It’s not true that sustainability is more expensive. It’s often cheaper.” For example, she said: “Eat in a mainstream tourist restaurant and then go with a local guide to a local food place and it will be cheaper.”
Bencheikh added: “A lot of businesses show certification now. It’s an easy way to show a customer a destination is sustainable without them having to think too much.”
Smith, the co-founder of Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency and co-author of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism launched at the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow last year, argued: “You can’t work on tourism, climate and sustainability and not have bleak days. It’s terrifying we have to do so much so quickly but it’s great for collaboration.