Co-creating sustainability in tourism - interactive ITB panel 2021
Last Friday, more than 130 participants from all over the world shared their visions and ideas on sustainable tourism development at the ITB panel “Co-creating sustainability in tourism – powered by Futouris”. Together with the audience, impulses were set for the further creation of sustainable tourism after the Corona pandemic.
2020 was an exceptional year; the pandemic forced all of us – travellers as well as companies and destinations – to take a step back and set new priorities. How can travel companies and destinations avoid setbacks in the future and become more resilient? Which innovative strategies are necessary to shape a more sustainable tourism?
Six representatives of the international tourism industry came together on Friday afternoon virtually to find answers to these and similar questions and to share their vision of sustainable tourism development with the audience. This interactive panel was moderated by Prof. Dr. Harald Zeiss and joined by more than 130 tourism experts worldwide.
Wybcke Meier, CEO of TUI Cruises, highlighted the importance of sustainability in cruising for TUI Cruises: “For us, sustainability in cruises means a central focus on the global climate crisis and thus on sustainable concepts for emission-free cruises. Sustainable fuels and alternative forms of fuel technology are the main levers for significantly reducing CO2 emissions in the future. Shore power, synthetic fuels from renewable energies and energy-efficient technologies are specific examples that we at TUI Cruises are working on.” In the subsequent poll via the voting tool “Mentimeter” the audience also confirmed that the cruise industry should mainly focus on alternative fuel technologies followed by improving the working conditions and energy and water-saving measures.
Gustavo Seguro Sancho, Tourism Minister of Costa Rica, highlighted the importance of sustainability for destinations; with the Corona pandemic, the numbers of conscious travellers seeking authentic experiences are increasing. According to the audience key aspects to focus on to become a sustainable destination are environmental protection (28% of the votes) and the well-being of the communities (18%).
An increased awareness of sustainability on the part of guests and tourism businesses was also confirmed by Liisa Kokkarinen, Manager Sustainable Development at Visit Finland and Gerald Kassner, owner and managing director of schauinsland-reisen. Many customers have developed a new awareness for the topics of food, nature and the topic of sustainability during the pandemic.
Liisa Kokkarinen also emphasized the importance of working together: “Adapting sustainability during the pandemic will build back better and a more resilient tourism industry, for now and for the future. It is something we cannot achieve alone, but together we can really make a difference.”
Even though the Corona pandemic has increased awareness of sustainability among businesses and travellers, Prof. Dr. Julia Peters of the University of Applied Sciences in Kempten warns against believing that Corona will automatically make tourism more sustainable. “Only individual responsibility can bring us closer to this goal.”
Subsequently the audience were asked to share what they already do to support a sustainable tourism development. Many of them support the local community or travel by train to avoid flights. Longer, less frequent trips, avoiding plastic and sustainable/local food (e.g. local products, less meat) were also frequently mentioned.
Ralf Hieke, DRV Vice President and owner of the travel agency Strier, emphasised the importance of travel agents and personal consultations, because “travel agents are the perfect ambassadors for sustainable travel. They know their customers; they are being trusted are able to meet and create expectations in face-to-face meetings.” Travel agents were named as the 3rd most important source for sustainable travel with 18% by the audience – after personal experiences (45%) and facts and reviews (22%).