2.14 Understanding sustainability: WTTC

This case study will allow you to get an overview of the efforts that the key players of the tourism industry are making to guarantee a more innovative and sustainable future by 2030.

This interview with Julia Simpson, CEO and President of the World Travel and Tourism Council, introduced us to the objectives of WTTC as an organisation that 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.

Leading Sustainability & Stewardship Within the Industry

This interview with Julia Simpson, CEO and President of the World Travel and Tourism Council, introduced us to the objectives of WTTC as an organisation that 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.

Main Takeaways

  • For sustainability to enact change it is necessary for all industry stakeholders to be included in the transformation process and for different tools to be provided to them.
  • Targets and decarbonisation can be reached efficiently and effectively by applying the avoid, reduce and remove logic.
  • Developing a model that adapts to the different conditions and stages that companies may be at is crucial so everyone can develop more sustainably with a referral point.

Summary

Tell us about WTTC and why you took on the challenge of producing a Net Zero roadmap for the Travel and Tourism Sector.

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 worldwide. During the pandemic, their key role was to provide governments with safe travel protocols and advise 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.  

Can you tell us what the roadmap actually is?

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.

Why has WTTC put such effort into the Net Zero roadmap over the last few months?

Travel and tourism are key contributors to climate change and are 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.

How did you tackle the challenging task of covering the various industries and business types within Travel and Tourism within one report?

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 categories, scope-based, depending on their emission targets and control over them.

  • Scope 1: Have control directly.
  • Scope 2: Less directly have control.

Does a high level of Scope 1 of emissions mean that it will be easier for the businesses to reduce or eliminate them?

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 alternatives to liquid fossil fuel. She also highlighted that in some cases there are no alternatives or technological solutions, so it takes longer to solve these issues, although there is a lot of commitment and analysis going into these fields.

What does the sector look like at the moment in terms of climate commitments?

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.

Considering the range of businesses in the sector, if everyone set their ambitions as high as possible, what would the decarbonisation journey look like?

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.

What does this interesting finding mean for the overall sector’s journey?

Julia highlighted the need to comply with the logic of avoiding, reducing and removing. If this logic is applied to the industry, targets can be reached quite effectively and efficiently. In addition, she mentioned the responsibility governments have a responsibility to incentivise decarbonisation within tourism.

And what about interim targets? Where can we expect to be by 2030?

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.

Are there any sector-wide initiatives that can help encourage more commitments from businesses?

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.

The roadmap focuses on specific industries of Travel and Tourism’s private sector side. Does the public sector have an important role too?

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 sectors work hand in hand, which she exemplified by stating that one of the functions of governments is to support through incentives.

Collective action is clearly very important. What are some of the other recommendations included in the report?

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.

What are your hopes for the future and what is next for WTTC interns of tangible actions in the climate space?

In regards to this question, Julia mentioned that sustainable travel impacts everyone and that it will hopefully create jobs for the young, women and minorities, highlighting that people are a crucial part of sustainability. When discussing our footprint on the planet, she made us reflect on whether we are giving back enough to the communities we visit, emphasising the need to protect nature reserves as visitors would like to conserve them for future generations.

Do you have any final thoughts?

To wrap up the interview Julia highlighted the importance of partnerships and acting hand in hand with governments, tech giants, etc...

This interview with Julia Simpson, CEO and President of the World Travel and Tourism Council, introduced us to the objectives of WTTC as an organisation that 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.

Leading Sustainability & Stewardship Within the Industry

This interview with Julia Simpson, CEO and President of the World Travel and Tourism Council, introduced us to the objectives of WTTC as an organisation that 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.

Main Takeaways

  • For sustainability to enact change it is necessary for all industry stakeholders to be included in the transformation process and for different tools to be provided to them.
  • Targets and decarbonisation can be reached efficiently and effectively by applying the avoid, reduce and remove logic.
  • Developing a model that adapts to the different conditions and stages that companies may be at is crucial so everyone can develop more sustainably with a referral point.

Summary

Tell us about WTTC and why you took on the challenge of producing a Net Zero roadmap for the Travel and Tourism Sector.

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 worldwide. During the pandemic, their key role was to provide governments with safe travel protocols and advise 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.  

Can you tell us what the roadmap actually is?

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.

Why has WTTC put such effort into the Net Zero roadmap over the last few months?

Travel and tourism are key contributors to climate change and are 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.

How did you tackle the challenging task of covering the various industries and business types within Travel and Tourism within one report?

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 categories, scope-based, depending on their emission targets and control over them.

  • Scope 1: Have control directly.
  • Scope 2: Less directly have control.

Does a high level of Scope 1 of emissions mean that it will be easier for the businesses to reduce or eliminate them?

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 alternatives to liquid fossil fuel. She also highlighted that in some cases there are no alternatives or technological solutions, so it takes longer to solve these issues, although there is a lot of commitment and analysis going into these fields.

What does the sector look like at the moment in terms of climate commitments?

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.

Considering the range of businesses in the sector, if everyone set their ambitions as high as possible, what would the decarbonisation journey look like?

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.

What does this interesting finding mean for the overall sector’s journey?

Julia highlighted the need to comply with the logic of avoiding, reducing and removing. If this logic is applied to the industry, targets can be reached quite effectively and efficiently. In addition, she mentioned the responsibility governments have a responsibility to incentivise decarbonisation within tourism.

And what about interim targets? Where can we expect to be by 2030?

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.

Are there any sector-wide initiatives that can help encourage more commitments from businesses?

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.

The roadmap focuses on specific industries of Travel and Tourism’s private sector side. Does the public sector have an important role too?

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 sectors work hand in hand, which she exemplified by stating that one of the functions of governments is to support through incentives.

Collective action is clearly very important. What are some of the other recommendations included in the report?

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.

What are your hopes for the future and what is next for WTTC interns of tangible actions in the climate space?

In regards to this question, Julia mentioned that sustainable travel impacts everyone and that it will hopefully create jobs for the young, women and minorities, highlighting that people are a crucial part of sustainability. When discussing our footprint on the planet, she made us reflect on whether we are giving back enough to the communities we visit, emphasising the need to protect nature reserves as visitors would like to conserve them for future generations.

Do you have any final thoughts?

To wrap up the interview Julia highlighted the importance of partnerships and acting hand in hand with governments, tech giants, etc...