Is It Time to Rethink Tourism?

by | CAREER GUIDANCE, Hospitality Trends

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 forced the world to re-think a lot of things to find a new approach. We had to re-think the way we work and shift to a virtual office setting. Governments had to rethink their approach to public health to respond to the current crisis and prevent them in the future. As we were forced to stay home and avoid traveling or dining out, the hospitality and tourism industry had to rethink its place in the world.

Hotels shifted to long term rentals to fill their vacant rooms. Restaurants scrambled to come up with delivery options to compensate for empty dining rooms. Throughout the world, hospitality companies did what they could to survive the storm. However, the storm has passed and it’s time to shift from survival to sustainability.

World Tourism Day 2022: Rethinking Tourism

Now that the world is opening back up and tourist activity is returning to pre-pandemic levels, the UNWTO is promoting World Tourism Day 2022 with the theme “Rethinking Tourism”. The hope of this year’s initiative is to celebrate our love for tourism by considering a future where we travel in a more sustainable way.

UNWTO’s platform for rethinking tourism is comprehensive. Areas of focus range from rural development to creating more gender equality throughout the sector. However, the most important aspect of the initiative to rethink tourism is how the industry can reduce its impact on the planet.

Until now, the world’s approach to travel has been oriented around convenience and affordability. People want their holidays to be as cheap and easy as possible and we rarely consider the bigger picture. 

But, this type of consumer behavior has had a negative environmental, economic, and socio-political effect on many of the world’s favorite tourist destinations. If we want to enjoy the luxury of tourism for years to come, we must reconsider our place in the world now.

Instead of viewing Earth as our playground, we should strive to protect it in every way possible. Make no mistake, the future of the tourism and hospitality industry depends on the health of the planet.

To create urgency and build momentum around the need for a more sustainable future for the sector, the UNWTO introduced the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism.

What is the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism?

The Glasgow Declaration is a written pact created by a diverse range of stakeholders in the tourism sector. The goal is to get organizations, from private businesses to local and national governments, to commit to taking serious action on sustainability. 

So far, more than 450 organizations have become signatories, from industry giant Accor to the tourism board of Portugal. By signing the declaration, these entities are committed to implement the guidelines laid out in the declaration. 

According to the UNWTO, the main commitments signatories must fulfill are as follows: 

  • Support the global commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050
  • Deliver climate action plans within 12 months from becoming a signatory (or updating existing plans), and begin implementing them
  • Align their plans with the five pathways of the Declaration (Measure, Decarbonize, Regenerate, Collaborate, Finance) to accelerate and co-ordinate climate action in tourism
  • Report publicly on an annual basis on progress against interim and long-term targets, as well as on actions being taken
  • Work in a collaborative spirit, sharing good practices and solutions, and disseminating information to encourage additional organizations to become signatories and supporting one another to reach targets as quickly as possible 


The intention is to create a unified industry approach to climate action that includes all major parties. While 450 is a lot of signatories, that list needs to grow if there is going to be a widespread shift throughout the sector. Tourism is a massive industry that accounts for nearly 10% of the global economy. If significant change is going to come, it will only happen with everybody working together to achieve it.

Observatory cities for a sustainable future

Another major part of the UNWTO’s plan to tackle climate action is the International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories. The aim of this initiative is to monitor the economic, environmental, and socio-political effects of tourism on popular international destinations. 

Over 33 cities around the world are now acting as observatories for sustainable tourism. This makes it easier for the UNWTO to measure the impact of international tourism and identify common problems facing the industry on a global scale.

From the Canadian wilderness to the Canary Islands, these observatory cities are providing invaluable insight that will help shape the future of sustainable tourism. 

The most recent addition to the list is Hosco’s hometown, Barcelona. The impact of tourism on the mediterranean city has been a hot topic over the last decade. The local government has been trying to find a response that protects the city and its culture without crippling an important industry.

Needless to say, it will be interesting to see what we can learn from the Catalan capital’s participation in the network.

What can you do to work towards a more sustainable future for the tourism industry?

Much of the responsibility for taking action falls on the larger players in the industry. However, you can make changes to the way you think about sustainability in hospitality and tourism.

From a consumer level, you can seek to travel in ways that have less impact on the plant. This may require that you do more research or even pay more for your holidays, but prioritizing sustainability is going to require effort and sacrifice.

As a hospitality professional, you should try to work for companies that prioritize sustainable practices and train their employees in them as well. If you already work for a company and think they could be doing a better job on sustainability, express this to management. If they don’t take your concerns seriously, then you know where they stand and can act accordingly.

The hospitality and tourism industry is facing a historic staffing shortage that is shifting the balance of power in favor of workers. Not only can you demand better working conditions and wages, you can also use your newfound leverage to press them to be more sustainable.

Hosco is dedicated to the future of tourism and we work with wonderful hospitality companies who are as well. On our platform, you can find jobs at hospitality companies, such as Accor or Six Senses, that recognize the value of a sustainable approach.

Sign up for Hosco today to stay up-to-date with industry trends, build your skillset, and find your dream job!



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