Tourism industry stakeholders meet at Nîmes Forum

Participants discuss long-term sustainability of travel sector

6. A World for Travel (Twitter)
(Photo: Twitter)
NÎMES, France — The global travel and tourism industry, which was hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, is recovering as countries around the world reopened their borders, governments lifted their travel restrictions, and pent up demand for travel continue unabated. But climate change remains one of the main challenges the sector is grappling with as heat waves, floods, and droughts are threatening tourist destinations across the globe.اضافة اعلان

The number of International travelers reached 57 percent of pre-pandemic levels between January and July this year, according to the World Tourism Organization. An estimated 474 million tourists travelled internationally during the first seven months, compared to 175 million in the same months of 2021.

The increase in the number of tourists is welcome news for many countries that lost a big share of their revenues as a result of the pandemic.

Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries. Before the pandemic, it accounted for one in four of new jobs worldwide and one in 10 jobs worldwide, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Its contribution to the global GDP stood at 10.3 percent (USD 9.6 trillion).

But there is a downside. Tourism accounts for 8–11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which causes global warming. Aviation alone is responsible for 2 percent of global CO2 emissions, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

As tourism is growing, the need to mitigate the negative impact of climate change was a major theme discussed at a two-day conference held in Nîmes, France, entitled “Transforming Travel to Develop Sustainability”.

The A World for Travel Nîmes Forum brought together at least 300 tourism executives, dignitaries, tourism ministers, and industry leaders to discuss ideas and exchange expertise on best practices to ensure the long-term sustainability of the tourism sector.

The impact of climate change was already felt in many countries around the world and most recently in the southern Greek island of Crete, a popular holiday destination. Severe torrential floods killed at least two people. European cities have also experienced unprecedented heat waves in the summer at the height of the tourism season, with wildfires raging across Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, and Greece.

Efforts are underway to combat the negative impact of climate change. The 27th edition of the UN Conference on Climate Change or COP27 will be hosted in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, next week.

The conference aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions, finance climate action, and address the loss and damage of climate change in developing countries. The main goal is to keep global temperature rise to well below 2°C and to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C to prevent climate related disasters. This was already enshrined in the Paris Agreement, signed by 194 countries in 2015, in response to the threat of global warming.

“The global warming is affecting sea levels and ski resorts, which will be demolished if no action is taken,” Ghad Shalaby, Egyptian deputy tourism minister, said at the conference. “We have to move from promises and talks to action and put together a plan.”

Egypt is hoping wealthy countries keep up their promises to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to developing nations to help them cope with climate change; a pledge which was taken at a UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009.

“Financing green transition is pivotal when addressing global warming and the impact of climate change. Therefore, wealthy countries are held responsible,” she told Jordan News.

Ratcheting up action against change climate requires collective commitments on an international level to make progress. Besides, the momentum on climate action has stalled as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.

Still, tourism businesses and aviation industry leaders are working on reducing greenhouse emissions.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN body overseeing aviation, adopted this month a long-term goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“It is an important step which lays the framework for investors in the airline industry to support sustainable aviation,” said Didier Brechemier, senior partner at Roland Berger, a global consultancy with headquarters based in Germany. “It is an ambitious goal that would encourage those operating in the industry to invest in new energies.”

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