Anne Majumdar

The travel industry must do more to tackle climate change or it risks becoming a “pariah”, according to Intrepid founder Darrell Wade.

Last week, Wade met with politician and environmentalist Al Gore who is visiting Australia to promote his latest documentary An Inconvenient Sequel.

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Gore acknowledged some serious strides made around the world by businesses like Intrepid, but both men agreed more must be done.

With 2017 declared the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, Wade is calling for an industry-wide plan to reduce carbon emissions.

“Various firms and business are actually doing quite a bit, but as an industry we can’t say this is our plan and this is our progress against that plan,” he told KarryOn.

“I have been feeling for quite a while that we need to pull up our socks.”

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An industry-wide approach driven by organisations like the World Travel and Tourism Council and the United Nations is required to create a proper framework and processes, Wade explained.

But so far, there has been a sense of “it’s too difficult”, he lamented.

“But other industries bigger than ours have done a similar kind of pathway and are getting good results.”

Wade highlighted the electricity generation, construction and automotive industries as examples, with plans in place to increase power from renewable sources, reduce global carbon emissions and create greener fuel respectively.

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With travel and tourism now accounting for more than 10% of global GDP, the industry’s focus should now be on doing the same.

“Our industry has the potential for reputation risk to the degree that if we don’t do something, people are people are going to take note,” he said.

“I’m worried that, quite apart from the fact that we should be doing something anyway, our industry could become a pariah industry if certain parts of the media really start to get stuck into us.”

A recent “scathing” letter from Greenpeace Asia Pacific chief executive David Ritter about the industry’s role in ensuring the future of the planet validated Wade’s concerns.

“Of all the industries that should be concerned about climate change, ours is absolutely one of them,” Wade agreed.

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After all, popular activities on a holiday including heading for the beach, going snorkelling or hitting the ski slopes.

“All of these destinations or pastimes are potentially under threat if we don’t tackle climate change – if sea levels rise. that wipes out half the beaches in the world, certainly with the Great Barrier Reef, there’s a lot of bleaching happening, ski seasons globally are becoming more unreliable, particularly in Europe and North America,” Wade commented.

Furthermore, a new coordinated approach to the issue doesn’t have to see the industry take a hit in terms of profitability. Carbon neutral Intrepid is proof that companies can prosper while respecting the environment, growing its turnover from $30 million to more than $300 million.

Most recently, the company confirmed it would double carbon offsets on all US tours following President Donald Trump’s controversial withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

 

Do you think the industry is doing enough?