The World Travel & Tourism Council's 22nd Global Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (photo via WTTC)
The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 22nd annual Global Summit, held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, began on November 28 and has unveiled the world’s first global travel and tourism climate footprint.
The research project is one of the largest of its kind, allowing the WTTC to track and update the travel and tourism industry’s impact on the environment across 185 countries each year.
According to previous data, the travel industry was estimated to produce about 11 percent of all emissions, but the new data suggests that in 2019, the industry contributed to 8.1 percent of global emissions.
The data also indicates that while the travel industry’s GDP has grown 4.3 percent annually on average between 2010 and 2019, its environmental footprint increased by 2.4 percent, much slower. This is an indication that more sustainable and climate-friendly programs have been making a difference.
The Environmental & Social Research will also measure the travel industry’s impact on pollutants, energy sources, water usage and social data, including wage and gender profiles of those employed in the industry.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Until now we did not have a sector-wide way to accurately measure our climate footprint. This data will give governments the detailed information they need to make progress against the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals…8.1 percent is the stake in the ground. The key is to become more efficient and decoupling the rate at which we grow from the amount of energy we consume. From today, every decision, every change, will lead to a better and brighter future for all.”
The 22nd Global Summit is the largest in WTTC history, with an estimated 3,000 people expected to attend. Its theme, “Travel for a Better Future,” will focus on topics ranging from social issues to climate- and sustainability-focused initiatives.
The summit offers both in-person and online viewing options. Speakers include former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, former U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, actor, filmmaker and Golden Globe winner, Edward Norton and many others.
WTTC Members are also expected to invest an estimated $10.5 billion to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia across the next five years, in support of its sustainable tourism development initiatives.
His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia, said: “The Kingdom is proud to welcome the 22nd WTTC Global Summit to Riyadh. With more government ministers and world-leading CEOs than ever before, it will be a true display of the future we want to create. A future founded in public and private sector partnership, with sustainability and innovation at its core.”
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