Here’s a 60-second speed-read of Asia Travel Re:Set Issue #29, published on 21 February 2021.
6 things we learned in Travel & Tourism in Asia Pacific last week include…
Tourism Must Take Responsibility
Post-COVID, travel stakeholders must confront the climate crisis. Travellers have spent the past 12 months rethinking their personal health and their carbon footprints. Young people know that older generations have diminished earth’s natural landscapes – and the legacy for future generations to face. Tourism has no choice. The entire industry should be proactive, not responsive – and actively shape a planet-friendly culture.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) issued a statement about environmental concerns at the proposed USD350 million Angkor Lake of Wonder casino resort near the Angkor Wat temple ruins. This is a thorny issue for UNESCO because of the growing commercial appeal of World Heritage sites over the past 2 decades. Many countries lobby to get their sites onto the List to drive tourism investment and visitors.
“The scale, scope and concept of the planned activities could indeed have an impact on the outstanding universal value for which Angkor was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.”
The Pristine, popular… imperilled? The environmental consequences of projected tourism growth report was published in 2019. Since then, New Zealand has confronted the twin challenges of tourism development and environmental protection. It continues to inflame passions because of the nation’s promotional slogan “100% Pure New Zealand.” This week, Simon Upton, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, who authored the report, discussed what he describes as “inconvenient intrusions of reality.”
“It’s important we don’t keep on avoiding difficult conversations about some of the pressures that manifestly undermine claims about sustainability.”
Whether you agree with this highly polemicised this article, it merits a read for challenging issues of inequality and environmental harm in tourism. The author actually compares the travel sector to extractive industries like mineral mining. He says that beautiful landscapes, beaches and wildlife hotspots have become “Depopulated, fenced off through preservation laws, and repopulated with a globalised [tourism] architecture.”
This week’s Singapore Budget 2021 set out a new financial plan to rebuild the nation’s pivotal aviation sector. Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Finance, also discussed the Singapore Green Plan 2030. The decade-long strategy intends to “Transform Singapore into a City in Nature, while building up carbon sinks by extending nature throughout our island.” Objectives include planting 1 million new trees and quadrupling solar energy usage by 2025.
“Unlike COVID-19, which was a sudden and sharp shock, climate change is a gradual and intensifying risk, year after year. It can result in extreme weather patterns, which threaten the world’s food and water supply, disrupt global supply chains, diminish biodiversity, and upset ecological systems.”
Nothing will be ‘normal’ about travel and tourism for many years, and this article suggests that may be a positive outcome. Susanne Becken, Professor of Sustainable Tourism at Griffith University, argues that “The pandemic can be traced back to humanity’s relentless damage to nature”. Mass global tourism is emblematic of a “voracious, growth-at-all-costs mentality.”
“The industry’s focus must shift from growth and profit to ‘regeneration’, helping to restore the natural world that humans have so badly damaged. After all, there’s no tourism on a dead planet.”
This is a short summary version of Asia Travel Re:Set Issue #29: “The Coming Environmental Storm for Travel & Tourism”