The ‘hot’ topic at this year’s ITB Berlin had to be climate change, even Messe Berlin COO Dr Christian Gِke said as much when summing up the successes of the event.
At assorted press conferences, industry stakeholders declared their ‘green’ credentials as they embraced the issue and discussed its impact on the industry.
In a press release on climate change issued on the first day of the event, the ITB said: “In parts of the world, there will be more powerful and more frequent typhoons and cyclones, coral reefs will be destroyed and some low-lying islands – such as the Maldives – could simply disappear.”
Predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change point out that there is a ‘probable’ chance of sea levels rising by 59cm each century for the next 200 years.
Francesco Frangialli, UNWTO Secretary General, speaking at ITB Future Day said tourism was both ‘a victim and a vector of climate change.’
The three main concerns for the industry, he said, were a retreat of glaciers and lack of snow, which affects the skiing industry, the destruction of ecosystems of small islands and the effect of climate change on fresh water supplies.
Frangialli said the problem of climate change can not simply be solved by reducing flights, pointing out that tourism contributes to poverty elimination and brings roughly $200 billion to the developing world each year. These are interdependent, he said, and must be dealt with holistically.
Later this year, the UNWTO will produce a detailed analysis of tourism’s standalone impact on climate change.