Driving Sustainability and Green Innovation within the Travel Sector

Hege starts by explaining that what started as an extra has now become the primary driver of sustainable development.

In Norway, all innovation is driven by sustainability, investments in technology and pivoting startups that contribute to sustainable growth.

As an example, Oslo has a very ambitious mission to become carbon neutral by 2030. 61% of all emissions in Oslo originate from transports, half from serving people and a half from moving goods.

Hege starts by explaining that what started as an extra has now become the primary driver of sustainable development. In Norway, all innovation is driven by sustainability, investments in technology and pivoting startups that contribute to sustainable growth.

As an example, Oslo has a very ambitious mission to become carbon neutral by 2030. 61% of all emissions in Oslo originate from transports, half from serving people and a half from moving goods.

Many communities around the world are close to the water and this has always been a source of innovation. So setting an ambitious target to ensuring that ferries on the Fjords transition to emission-free travel are key to maintaining this ongoing progress, realising that innovating in the future requires us to commit to a more sustainable present. The use of waterways is pioneering new methods of green transport. Becoming carbon neutral is not just a development, it's a requirement to ensure we protect the planet for future generations.

Autonomous ferries are also something we can expect to see very soon: electric and self-driving autonomous waterways is becoming a reality with various prototypes already in existence in major cities all around the world. We are so focused on innovation when it comes to self-driving cars and the electrification of our roads that we can often overlook the opportunities to electrify and introduce smart waterways, which is an opportunity for so many destinations around the world.

Another focus of Norway is the mission to clean up its airways: there is a hope that flying passengers with electric aircraft will become a reality by 2050; however, there are significant hurdles to be solved and a large all-electric aircraft is still some way away.

Looking at smart architecture, Hege speaks about the opportunity to build tall towers with cross-laminated timber sourced from local forestries. Energy positive hotel development is a huge opportunity for the tourism industry. This means that there is a great potential to become energy positive and actually feed electricity back to the grid. Being fully self-sufficient is an important priority to ensure tourism infrastructure doesn't affect citizen infrastructure, yet strengthens it.

Another example of innovation with dual benefits is Norway's recent underwater restaurant. An amazing and iconic innovation that serves both as a resource for marine biologists to study underwater life but also an incredible experience for visitors to experience something absolutely unique.

We know that over-tourism is a major issue for our industry and rather than just trying to send tourists elsewhere, we need to draw visitors off the beaten path and encourage alternative journeys. One opportunity is to tap into the market for those looking for escapism, offering a product where visitors can experience an undisturbed stay. Hege explains some of the incredible new constructions which are built to allow visitors to fully experience nature. Hege talks about Manshausen, which is surrounded by nature: the aim is to promote visitor experiences the awe of the beauty of nature around them. They commit to becoming carbon neutral in just five years.

Hege also talks bout the role of art, design and architecture. She talks about the importance of combining architecturally attractive constructions, which at the same time, are considerate to the environment.

There are so many opportunities to drive innovation, embrace disruption and recognise that it takes all stakeholders to come together to create valuable change.

It's a journey that many have started, but many are yet to start. Businesses will need to adapt, pivot, think differently. Moreover, it is up to leaders and governments to create levers for change.

Key Takeaways

1. What used to be considered an extra has now become a must when it comes to sustainable development. The travel sector needs to be consistently driven by sustainability and green innovation.

2. Becoming carbon neutral is not just about thinking about future developments, it is a current requirement we need to work on right now to ensure we protect the planet for future generations.

3. There are many opportunities to work on sustainable development within the tourism industry and Norway is a best practice. For example, think about the great potential of building energy positive hotels.

4. Another incredible opportunity for the travel sector is tapping into the escapism market, made of those who are looking for isolation and remote experiences.

5. Considering the design, art and architecture, the key for a more sustainable and green future is to learn to combine architectural attractiveness to the respect for the environment.

Published on:
November 2020
About the contributor

Hege Vibeke Barnes


Hege is a passionate traveller and a firm believer in the value connection between people and cultures can create. With over 20 years of experience in the North American market, Hege is an experienced leader, business opportunity developer, strategist and marketer.