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WTM: UNWTO Chief Says Climate Change Bigger Threat Than Covid

World Travel Market London 2021, ExCeL London - Minister's Summit - Investing in Tourism's Sustainable Future.

“The climate emergency is a bigger threat than Covid,” warned World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili speaking on Tuesday during the UNWTO, WTTC & WTM Ministers’ Summit, at the World Travel Market (WTM) 2021 in London.

“Going back to the old normal is not an option,” Pololikashvili said, addressing world tourism ministers who have gathered in London to discuss ways of developing tourism in a sustainable manner.

The head of the UNWTO admitted that Covid-19 hit tourism harder than any other sector and underlined the need for governments to support the sector through stronger public-private partnerships and more and better-targeted financing investments in order “to rebuild in a sustainable and inclusive way”.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

“This summit gives us the chance to strengthen our advocacy on sustainability,” he said, adding that public investment can “encourage and leverage” private investment all over the world.

The UNWTO and other tourism and travel stakeholders will officially launch the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 on Thursday.

At the same time, the WTTC is aiming to launch its Net Zero Roadmap for Travel & Tourism to support the industry in combating climate change as part of the sector’s drive towards net zero by 2050.

WTTC president and CEO Julia Simpson.

Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, echoed Pololikashvili. “We have no alternative; we have to go green,” she said adding that sustainable growth is a key priority for WTTC.

“Investors and the public demand that we invest to protect the planet and people. We need to invest in making sure destinations are great places to live and not just great places to visit,” she said.

Representing the hotel industry, Federico González, chief executive at Radisson Hotel Group, underlined the importance of making owners of smaller hotels understand how they can make their businesses more sustainable.

UK Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston.

Lastly, UK Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston said the  partnership between private and public sectors is “spurred by the consumer”, adding that the government can offer tax incentives to encourage sustainable developments, such as deductions for solar power and electric vehicle charging points.

The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) is an official media partner of WTM London.

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