Climate change: victim or contributor?


THERE’S an historic global event taking place at World Travel Market 2007 to which everyone working in the industry should pay more than a fleeting moment of attention.

I am talking about World Travel Market’s Minister’s Summit on Climate Change, to be held in association with the United NationsWorld Tourism Organization.
The one-day event, taking place at London ExCeL on Tuesday 13 November, will see well over 100 Government Tourism Ministers coming together to tackle one of the most difficult and controversial issues currently facing the international travel and tourism industry.
This is the first time in four years that some of the most influential leaders within the industry have met to discuss and, hopefully, make decisions on a subject which impacts us all, our customers and businesses. Now and in the future.
In early October, one thousand environmental experts will meet in Switzerland to  decide on a recommended declaration for the Ministers to discuss at World Travel Market’s Summit.
The aim is to take the industry’s efforts to lessen the impact of climate change to a new phase of action.
Unpredictable weather patterns can make it difficult for anyone to plan and operate a tourism business successfully.
Plus there are other concerns such as damaging basic essentials such as fresh water supplies and the erosion of natural environments so often the focus of a destination’s key attraction to holidaymakers.  Coastal resorts, tropical rainforests, wildlife safaris, Artic and Antartic regions and alpine ski resorts, for example, all rely on a mixture of natural beauty, good weather and safe conditions to attract visitors.
In addition, there are of course the arguments – some unfair and not always proven – that points to the industry as a contributor to climate change.
So are we a victim or a contributor?
The jury is still out. But what is clear is that this not just a problem for governments worldwide or a matter of fine words spoken in the light of the Kyoto Protocol, but for every individual who is working in and has a passion for travel and tourism.
Everyone will be able to share in this momentous initiative as delegates will be able to follow the talks on giant screens at World Travel Market.
It also comes on the eve of WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Day when, again in association with the UNWTO, we will be asking everyone to make a difference to our planet with action, not just words.
Certainly food for thought. 

(Fiona Jeffery is managing director of World Travel Market)
This Travelling World by Fiona Jeffery