Opinion: WTM shows the industry is taking sustainability seriously

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by Sue Hurdle, chief executive of The Travel Foundation

I’m always very heartened when I visit World Travel Market on World Responsible Tourism Day.?All around me at the show I see healthy debate, constructive conversation and inspiring stories which make sustainability in tourism come to life.

The challenge we all face, of course, is to inspire people who work at all levels in our industry as well as those at the top. Those who are at WTM representing tourist boards, hotels, airlines, attractions and tour operators - they are all equally important to drive change. My wish is to keep sustainability on everyone’s agenda even at a time when there are so many economic challenges we face.

Green, responsible, sustainable - call it what you will, there are plenty of examples at this year’s show to prove that the travel industry is taking the issues seriously and making an impact.

But I often hear from people working in travel that those not directly involved in the corporate social responsibility field get turned off sustainability because of the way it’s presented. Sometimes, they say, it seems too serious, too worthy and - dare I say it - dull.?? That’s something we need to acknowledge and change.

Fun and creativity need to play a bigger part in our communications about greener holidays.?That’s why we’ve got artist Paul Lappin on site at this year’s show, designing an evolving artwork, aimed at celebrating and inspiring change in the tourism industry.

The idea is that everyone can contribute their sustainable tourism story, inspiration or ambition to the piece in a variety of ways - through Twitter (@TravelTF), in person at stand number NA383 or via email to graeme.jackson@thetravelfoundation.org.uk

From what I’ve seen so far, the WTM crowd has risen to the occasion and shared their experiences, hopes and inspirations to help make this project a huge success.

Following WTM, the artwork will be on display at our Bristol head office, before playing an integral role in the Travel Foundation’s 10th anniversary celebrations next year.

Our other focus this year is on excursions, which has created a fascinating talking point.

Local food, sightseeing, wildlife, shopping and culture are all things which make a holiday special.? Excursions are the holiday highlight for many people, but we know that there’s more that can be done to diversify the range of excursions and at the same time make sure that they’re bringing greater benefit to the local economy and environment.

The Travel Foundation’s sustainable art project can be found on stand NA383 and the sustainable excursions seminar is in South Gallery Rooms, Weds 07 November 15:30 - 16:30 at WTM 2012