On October 8, 2009, Forum for the Future, a non-profit sustainable development organization, introduced its project the “Tourism 2023 Vision” at the ABTA travel conference. The purpose of this project is to help the UK outbound travel and tourism industry understand the challenges it faces in planning for a sustainable future. This ‘what if’ report outlines what could happen to tourism in the future as a result of climate change, population growth and shortages of oil and other resources through the exploration of four possible scenarios that could impact the future state of the tourism market. Major UK based tour operators, airlines, cruise companies and travel agents participated in the exercise and signed the Tourism 2023 Vision, committing themselves, individually and as a group, to creating a sustainable industry by 2023.
In summary, these Tourism 2023 scenarios include “Boom & Bust” where new technologies make green traveling easier and where an aging population takes medical holidays for cheap operations elsewhere. “Divided Disquiet” where political instability will have made many world destinations unattractive to tourists, except for doomsday tourism where people will flock to see rapidly disappearing natural resources. “Price and Privilege” where the rising costs of fuel and energy will make long distance travel too expensive for most people. “Carbon Clampdown” where legislative measures such as personal carbon credits combined with increased awareness on the risks of climate change could result in a reduced demand for international travel.
This vision for action that
resulted from the 18 month project is based on six principles: protecting
the environment, developing employees, providing customers with mainstream
sustainable products, ensuring that destinations benefit from tourism,
innovating to create sustainable transport and resorts and developing a
business which is environmentally, socially and financially sustainable.
The project has been successful in drawing attention to some challenges the tourism industry will face in achieving sustainability. It has also been successful in convincing businesses and organizations that their practices must change to ensure sustainability in the future of tourism. Currently only targeting the UK tourism industry, these principles could be applied to the Canadian tourism industry to further the conversations on sustainable tourism and act as a catalyst for action.