Ministers called to lead


GOVERNMENT ministers and officials came under scathing attack at this year’s UNWTO Ministers’ Summit, held at WTM last month.

High-profile television presenter Richard Quest told government delegates to cut through the talk, knuckle down to action and to lead by example in the war against carbon emissions.
Quest, aged 45 and born in Liverpool, England, is known as Mr Tourism. He is an international face through his job with CNN and he was in firebrand form at ExCeL London as ministers from more than 60 countries prepared to endorse the Davos Declaration on climate change.
He put provocative questions to them, asking, how many had a car waiting for them; how many had requested their hotel not to change their sheets and towels that night; and how many had travelled to the event economy class.
He followed up “The business class seat is the most environmentally unfriendly on the aircraft. It takes more space, has greater weight and higher fuel burn.”
He continued, “I have read the Davos Declaration in detail. I am none the wiser about what’s going to be done.”
Quest complained that the document was hollow until fleshed out to concrete, perceptive changes that stakeholders in the industry adhere to and which tourists business and leisure can follow.
He called for programmes and policies that governments can promote not wordage and verbiage.
“I suggest and respectfully submit that more work needs to be done on changing the mindset rather than producing pamphlets of fine-sounding language. I consider myself as involved in the industry and it’s my part, as well, to use the same sheets, to fly at the back if I can, not always, but sometimes. Not to have cars sitting waiting for me burning fossil fuels.
“But, ultimately, we have to change the mindset of the tourist, whether it is the business traveller or the vacationer. We are in this sinking boat together and we need to offer them realistic possibilities and procedures to help bale us out of it.”
Quest’s criticisms honed in on the reluctance to make changes. He believes that there is a problem with perception that goes from the top of the tourism industry to its grass roots. “The reality is that many do not perceive themselves as being involved.
“When it comes to travel and leisure tourism, nobody wants to make a change. The tourist is spending hard-earned cash on their precious two week holiday and there is a reluctance – a Not on My Vacation.”
The Davos Declaration will be further examined at UN sessions in Colombia and Bali this month and December.