Julia introduced us to the objectives of WTTC as an organisation who is leading the tourism industry towards a more innovative and sustainable future.
Julia explained that the World Travel and Tourism Council brings together over 200 CEOs and chairmen of large tourism and travel organisations, which are very critical to the global economy because together they contribute 10.4% of global GGP, and employs 354 million people world-wide. During the pandemic, their key role was to provide governments with safe travel protocols and advising them on how to get the world travelling again safely and securely.
In this interview, Julia Simpson, CEO and President of the World Travel and Tourism Council, introduced us to the objectives of WTTC as an organisation who is leading the tourism industry towards a more innovative and sustainable future, with the main objective being to uncover the vision behind WTTC's 2030 Sustainability Roadmap.
Julia explained that the World Travel and Tourism Council brings together over 200 CEOs and chairmen of large tourism and travel organisations, which are very critical to the global economy because together they contribute 10.4% of global GGP, and employs 354 million people world-wide. During the pandemic, their key role was to provide governments with safe travel protocols and advising them on how to get the world travelling again safely and securely. She explained that the purpose of their Net Zero roadmap is to put the whole industry under one umbrella, as before we would have data on aviation, and separately for hotels and accommodation, for example.
Through a video, Julia provided us with an overview of their roadmap for Net Zero travel and tourism, which aims to offer an understanding of climate actions to all industry stakeholders, as well as a decarbonisation framework and net-zero trajectory, with the overall aim of making sustainability a priority.
She highlighted that every human action has a carbon footprint, which is the biggest global challenge nowadays. Thus, this roadmap has been created due to the need to move away from words into actions, bringing the whole sector together for the first time, providing a clear pathway to net-zero.
Travel and tourism is a key contributor to climate change and is also greatly impacted by climate change. Julia explained that this calls for a deep understating of the need to grow back better than before in the post-pandemic world. The Net Zero roadmap provides a status quo, a benchmark for measurement of our impact.
Sectors start from different positions, as the carbon footprint can be very different depending on the activities carried out. Thus, the WTTC structured the different industries into different categories, scope-based, depending on their emission targets and control over these.
Julia expressed her disagreement with the statement, explaining that industries in Scope 1 are often reliant on fossil fuels, such as aviation and cruise liners, and which are investing in new tech and alternative to liquid fossil fuel. She also highlighted that in some cases there are no alternatives or technological solutions, so it takes longer solve these issues, although there is a lot of commitment and analysis going into these fields.
The WTTC's role is to act as advisors for their members. Julia explained that out of the 250 companies they spoke to, 42% currently have defined targets, which accentuates their role to encourage and guide them in this process. This is exactly what the next zero roadmap provides for them.
Julia commented that they have divided businesses into three categories: very hard to evade emissions (e.g., cruises), which are expected to accomplish it by 2050, easier to evade emissions (e.g., hotels), which are expected to be able to accomplish this by 2040, and the very simple to evade ones (e.g., online agencies) are expected to be able to do so by 2030.
Julia highlighted the need to comply with the logic of avoid, reduce and remove. If this logic is applied to the industry, targets can be reached quite effectively and efficiently. In addition, she mentioned the responsibility governments have to incentivise decarbonisation within tourism.
The WTTC expect to be back at pre-pandemic levels by 2023, when we’ll see the impact of the carbon footprint. Thus, Julia explained that the current aim is to get the whole sector to be net-zero by 2050.
She highlighted that the Glasgow Declaration has provided a great inspiration and motivation to act, managing to get countries to sign-up to become net-zero, which she considers to be a great milestone.
Julia was very clear on the importance of the public sector's role. She remarked that it is not possible to succeed unless both the private and the public sector work hand in hand, which she exemplified by stating that one of the functions of governments is to support through incentives.
WTTC's CEO highlighted the following key recommendations included in the report: measuring things accurately, by setting baselines and targets, measuring progress, collaborating between sectors, for example between hotels and aviation, collaborating between public and private sectors, and investment.
In regards to this question, Julia mentioned that sustainable travel impacts everyone, and that it will hopefully create jobs for the young, the women and minorities, highlighting that people are a crucial part of sustainability. When discussing our footprint on the planet, she made us reflect on wether we are giving back enough to the communities we visit, emphasising on the need to protect nature reserves as visitors would like to conserve them for future generations.
Julia, as many other speakers did during X. Festival, highlighted the importance of partnerships and acting hand in hand with governments, tech giants, etc...
1. For sustainability to be made a priority, all industry stakeholders need to be included in the process and different tools have to be provided.
2. It is important to adapt to the different conditions and stages that companies might be in, so that everyone can develop more sustainably thanks to a point of reference.
3. Applying the logic of avoid, reduce and remove, decarbonisation and targets can be reached quite effectively and efficiently.
4. Need for partnerships and acting hand in hand with governments, tech giants, etc.
Julia Simpson CEO and President of the World Travel and Tourism Council. She spent 14 years in the aviation sector on the Board of British Airways and Iberia and as Chief of Staff at International Airlines Group.