AITO overseas conference Wroclaw panel discussion world is falling apart

AITO conference: Practical ways to attain sustainability

"The World Is Falling Apart" was the theme of the first day's afternoon session at the AITO Overseas Conference, with a strong focus on practical sustainability and addressing "the elephant in the room" of air travel's carbon footprint.

Tanya Clover from Tucan Travel opened the session with a presentation on the importance of doing rather than talking about sustainability. On a practical level, she said this involves activities such as supporting local businesses, local accommodation businesses, local guides and local initiatives at the destinations in which they operate, rather than "greenwashing" or joining foundations.

"Our travellers care about global climate change and species rights ... they have a moral conscience," Ms Clover told delegates. 

She raised the sensitive issue of being aware of slavery, which particularly affects children and vulnerable adults: "Our staff are trained to know what to look for and to know what to do about it ... doing nothing is no longer an option."

With flights contributing as much as 80% of carbon emissions in the travel industry, Jonathan Bryan from Discover Adventure said "it's a reality we have to face ... we have control of how we work overseas."

The increasing influence of young people in terms of reducing flights - "the Greta Thunberg effect" - is having an impact on the travel industry. However, the panellists agreed that it is important to communicate to young people in particular about the benefits of the travel industry as a force for good in areas such as wildlife preservation, job protection and creation, and sustaining local economies.

In the breakout session, overtourism was a topic of conversation with the importance of making every trip count, ensuring holidaymakers are encouraged to go to lesser-visited regions, raised by delegates speaking from the floor. 

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