The Covid-19 pandemic, which has been ravaging countries across the globe now, has completely altered the world and its ways. However, human beings are resilient species, and even in our battle to survive, we are taking it as a learning experience. GV Sanjay Reddy, the Vice Chairman of GVK Group observes, “If there is one thing that people have missed the most during this pandemic, it is the freedom to travel without fear. However, they are using this as a learning experience, and becoming more mindful about their impact on the environment.” The desire for sustainable travel is higher than ever before.
Why Choose Sustainable Travel?
Broadly put, sustainable travel refers to the practice of tourism, which has minimal impact on the environment and is not disruptive to the local life and biodiversity. The tourism industry is responsible for a carbon footprint of over 4.5 GtCO2e, which is about 8% of the world’s total carbon emission. It has led to massive amounts of air and water pollution, waste generation. Not only does this degrade the aesthetic of popular tourist spots, it also impacts the quality of life of the local people, disturbs and damages native flora and fauna, along with other severe impacts on the environment. The pandemic has, however, instilled a sense of eco-awareness, and thus, more people are vowing to take up sustainable travel when life returns to normal.
What To Expect In The Near Future
The millennials are shaken by the impact of the pandemic and they are horrified by how we have damaged our planet. Over the recent years it is seen that many people are taking active steps to reducing their carbon footprint. Exploring local destinations, availing public transport, walking, and cycling et al have become more popular and it is expected to grow. When it comes to staying, they are choosing sustainable properties, organic farms, hotels and resorts that have invested heavily in eco-friendly measures. GV Sanjay Reddy notices that the younger gen Z generation, the newest clientele in the tourism industry, as well as the older generations are taking a stand, encouraging the industry to make needful changes.
How Tourism Industry Is Taking Up Green Ideas of Sustainability
Businesses are taking sustainable travel more seriously as well. Taj GVK and several other luxury hotels and resorts, members of the IHCL, have taken up sustainable measures to minimize their environmental impact. As of now, plans have been chalked up to make these properties 2 to 7% more eco-friendly and efficient. GV Sanjay Reddy says, “We are working to reduce our energy and water consumptions, emissions and carbon footprints. Renewable energy and better waste management is definitely in the pipeline and we are committed to giving back more to the planet than taking from it.”
Hotels have formulated Green Teams, with the heads of all the key operations departments, who collaborate to find better solutions for their functions. They are working on alternative energy sources, reduction of single-use plastics, waste recycling, rainwater harvesting, grey water treatment and other initiatives. Many hotels have partnered with EarthCheck program to monitor and evaluate their performance.
Tourism companies are making quite a bit of headway by promoting the use of public transport, with heavily reduced prices for shared group tours, as well as introducing interesting walking tours as a means to reduce emissions. They have come up with tour packages that are more respectful to local communities. Some are investing in building self-sustaining farms with organic produce and some are even offering people a first-hand experience of mindful practices that help conserve the environment. Even governments are not far behind as they are introducing new policies to regulate tourism produced pollution, waste and impact on the ecosystem. The World Tourism Organization declared that it would take an active stand in restricting tourism led harm to the ecosystem.
The tourism industry has suffered greatly due to the domestic and international travel restrictions imposed in several states and countries. However, as the world is healing and when the pandemic subsides, it is anticipated that sustainability will become a valuable criteria in future travels. “We don’t know yet when life will go back to normal, but one thing we know for sure, and that is, people will no longer compromise on eco-impact. This will revolutionize the travel industry and make our planet a better place to live. The change is here and it’s happening!” GV Sanjay Reddy chimes in with a smile.