news, analysis, lifestyle & travel from thailand and southeast asia header image 2

Pata focuses on green challenge

May 5th, 2008 · No Comments

GREG LOWE in Bangkok
THE Asia-Pacific’s tourist trade made first steps towards tackling climate change at an industry level, at a Bangkok conference last week. Pacific Asia Tourism Association (Pata) organised the two-day Pata CEO Challenge: Confronting Climate Change, in Bangkok, last Tuesday and Wednesday. More than 230 delegates exchanged information and discussed practical initiatives on how to reduce the industry’s negative impact on the environment, while protecting profits.
“We have to re-define growth,” said Peter de Jong, Pata CEO and president. “We need to find other ways to define value, and to get growth from yields and revenues rather than numbers.” Globally, more than 25 billion tons of carbon dioxide is produced each year, with global tourism responsible for 5 per cent, or 1.25 billion tons, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation. The figure is expected to rise to five billion tons by 2020.

Tourism, including aviation, is growing at more than 5 per cent a year and if current trends continue, the industry will emit half of the world’s total CO2 emissions within three decades, said Peter Harbison, executive chairman of the Council of Asia Pacific Aviation. “People are realising that the fingers pointing at the airline industry are also pointing at them,” he said. “What we had here was people trying to get out of the silos. Trying to think about the whole supply chain from getting from your doorstep to a destination.”

No hard figures were produced in terms of how much the industry is prepared to reduce profits in order to reduce its environmental footprint, though it was a matter of debate. “There were a number of conversations about what people were doing in terms of the trade-offs between revenues, profits and the climate change issues,” said Rohit Talwar, event facilitator and CEO Fast Future. “Some were simply using offsets and other mechanisms and getting revenue from customers. Others were matching the contributions their customers made.”

Shared initiatives included Banyan Tree’s green audit programme for assessing a resort’s environmental impact, and its scheme to match the US$10 carbon offset that it charges guests. JW Marriott explained it would replace plastic golf tees with bamboo at its resorts. Six Senses resorts detailed its initiative to give each of its hotels 0.5 per cent of revenue to invest in local social and environmental schemes.

Pata drew flak for the low turnout, with only 230 of the targeted 400 delegates attending, and for the lack of representation from the association’s grassroots. “Frankly, the reason for the low attendance is because climate change is not on the radar for a lot of entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Anna Pollock, CEO DestiCorp, a tourism industry consultancy. “I oscillate between despair and optimism over climate change, because it is such a big challenge. But if there is anything that is going to tip me into optimism, it’s an event like this.”

(C) Singapore Press Holdings Limited

Tags: news · The Business Times (Singapore) · travel

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment