Travel Industry Opinion Leaders: It's Time for Businesses to be a Force for Positive Change
That is the view being expressed by many of the business leaders attending the PATA CEO Challenge, Confronting Climate Change, organised by the Pacific Asia Travel Association in Bangkok, April 29-30.
According to one of the world's leading tourism strategists, Ms Anna Pollock, CEO of the UK-based DestiCorp, it's indicative of where corporate social responsibility in the travel industry is going.
“In the face of decision paralysis on the environment that has occurred in some destinations, businesses are now driving the agenda for a reduction in carbon emissions," Ms Pollock said.
Larger companies have changed their positions in the last few years. Some 68% of CEOs interviewed by the IBM Institute of Business Value said they were focusing on corporate social responsibility to create new revenue streams. Over half believe that their CSR activities are giving them a competitive advantage.
“Smart companies have now moved beyond reluctant compliance with green regulations," said Ms Pollock, who is also a facilitator at the CEO Challenge.
“It's now apparent that leading companies are turning to environmental care to build brand loyalty, add shareholder value and drive new levels of competitiveness and innovation. In this context of rapid change, it's vital that tourism leaders do not drag their feet or risk losing credibility and damaging reputations."
PATA has found that leaders are now embedding social and green issues into company marketing strategies. During the PATA CEO Challenge, ten business leaders including Mr KP Ho, Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, Mr Edwin Fuller, President and MD, Marriott Lodging International, Mr Peter Trautmann, Chief Operating Officer of Munich Airport, and Ms Jane Ashton, Head of CSR, First Choice Holidays / TUI Travel, will share their company's respective experiences on specific carbon reduction projects.
“This is not a conference, but a working session for travel industry leaders," said PATA President and CEO, Peter de Jong. “None of these leaders claim to have the Midas touch on green issues. They are coming because they want to share practical experience and come away with practical solutions and partnerships to drive the green agenda."
Ron N. Andruff, President and Managing Partner of US-based RNA Partners, told PATA: “I am attending the event to gather as much actionable information as I can. There is no issue of more paramount importance than sustainability - to both the hospitality industry and the world at large."
Mr Joe McInerney, President and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, said: “As global warming and other threats to the environment increasingly affect the entire international community, AH&LA is turning its efforts to encourage sustainable tourism and eco-friendly hotel operations."
Ahead of the event, PATA is hosting blog discussions on the travel industry's response to climate change at www.ceochallenge.pata.org/blog/
Green Globe will apply its science and systems to help significantly reduce the carbon footprint of key elements of the PATA CEO Challenge 2008.
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Founded in 1951, PATA is the recognised authority on Asia Pacific travel and tourism. PATA provides leadership and advocacy to the collective efforts of nearly 100 government, state and city tourism bodies, more than 55 airlines and cruise lines, and hundreds of travel industry companies. In addition, thousands of travel professionals belong to dozens of PATA chapters worldwide. PATA is a not-for-profit organisation. Find out more at www.PATA.org.
ABOUT GREEN GLOBE
Green Globe is the leading international environmental benchmarking and certification programme for the travel and tourism industry, managed by EC3 Global.
PATA Press Release www.ceochallenge.pata.org. Mr Ken Scott ScottAsia Communications Tel: +66 2 860 8227 Fax: +66 2 439 3537 E-mail: ken@ScottAsia.net Web site: www.ScottAsia.net Mr Oliver Martin Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Tel: + 66 2 658-2000 extension 129 Fax: +66 2 658-2010 Email: oliver@PATA.org