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Looking to the future: The promise of sustainable travel

By: Emily John - Account Director, The Jargon Group




As the travel industry continues to bounce back from the global pandemic, the challenges of travel restrictions have been replaced by travel sustainability. I think this will be one of the major themes at The Phocuswright Conference in November. The subject is contentious but important and I am looking forward to hearing what comes out of the conversation.


Sustainable travel is centred on finding ways to ensure aviation can be maintained in the long term, whilst limiting its impact on the environment. It’s all about valuing the environment, looking after our natural resources and respecting local cultures, as well as protecting destinations for future generations.


Sustainable travel has three key principles:


Environmental - This focuses on reducing the negative impact of travelling on the environment. Not only does it consider minimising carbon emissions from air travel, but also reducing water usage and wastage.


Social - This is about preserving cultures and communities for local people. Businesses in the travel industry may choose to support initiatives that are run by, employ, and support local people, as well as NGOs and charities.


Economic - Typically this relates to travel businesses remaining profitable in order to support sustainability best practices in the long term.


Net zero aviation


It's not just travel that contributes to carbon footprints - sustainability has become an increasingly recognised concern across all sectors over the past decade. Aviation, however, was responsible for over 2.5% of the global CO2 emissions, highlighting the need for change.


The UK recently launched a new Jet Zero strategy which sets ambitious green targets and commits our domestic aviation to achieving net zero emissions by 2040. It includes a plan for the industry to stay below pre-pandemic levels of carbon emissions with introductory measures to improve system efficiencies that utilise new technologies.


It’s no secret that the travel industry is a huge contributor to our economy, and the Jet Zero strategy provides the much-needed tools to help future-proof the sector and create a balance between the environmental, social, and economic factors.


Airlines taking flight


With the travel industry making moves to become more sustainable, some major airlines in the UK have started developing their technology and operations to tackle the growing problem. British Airways, for example, is part of the first airline group in the world to commit to becoming carbon net zero by 2050. The airline has also invested in new aircrafts that are more than 40% more efficient, as well as forming partnerships that support the development of sustainable aviation fuel, zero-emissions hydrogen-powered aircraft and carbon-capture technology.


Additionally, Virgin Atlantic operates one of the youngest and cleanest twin-engine fleets, with the average aircraft aged less than seven years old. As a leader in travel sustainability, the airline has issued a multi-billion-dollar investment in transforming its fleet over the last decade which has delivered a 20% reduction in fleet carbon emissions so far.


What’s next?


There's no denying that global travel has a significant impact on our planet, society, and economy. It's a sector that can drive significant improvement, leading by example and introducing strategies that will change the game of sustainability.

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