Colorado tourism industry lags on environmental front
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — In an era when reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been targeted as a critical priority, it’s more challenging than ever to reconcile tourism with environmental concerns.
Some parts of the tourism industry are big contributors to climate change, including energy use in lodging facilities (think of all the laundry and dishes being washed on a daily basis), as well as transportation, especially automobiles and passenger jets.
In the face of those impacts, some of the minor efforts by the industry seem almost insignificant, but at least on a global scale, tourism leaders are thinking about how to boost the use of sustainable and renewable energy in the sector.
The World Tourism Organization has faced accusations of trying to greenwash tourism, but the global body has taken a few concrete steps toward promoting sound environmental policies.
“Energy efficient upgrades to aircraft, the shift to renewable fuel for aviation and cruise liners, energy technology solutions in hotels, as well as countless other initiatives are placing tourism at the forefront of the clean energy transformation,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. Tourism is leading the way in some of the world’s most innovative sustainable energy initiatives.
“These initiatives are crucial for sustainable development, helping to cut tourism’s carbon emissions, enabling businesses to grow and create jobs, and bringing modern and affordable energy services to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities,” Rifai said.
This week’s upcoming World Tourism Day (Sept. 27) will underscore those efforts with a focus on sustainable energy. The official celebrations will be hosted in Maspalomas, a seaside town on Gran Canaria, coinciding with the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.
“One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is especially well-placed to promote environmental sustainability, green growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy … Sustainable energy will allow tourism to continue to expand while mitigating its impact on the environment,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Events in Maspalomas include a Think Tank on Tourism and Sustainable Energy at which tourism experts and leaders from the energy, airline and hospitality sectors will debate the use of sustainable energy in the travel and tourism sector.
Further highlights include the official launch of the Spanish version of the online tool Hotel Energy Solutions (HES), a UNWTO-led initiative, helping hotels to cut their energy use, and a Tourism and Sustainable Energy Fair, demonstrating the latest technologies in the field.
Hundreds more events will take place around the world on 27 September, as people celebrate WTD in their own countries. UNWTO invites all to share their events and follow official WTD celebrations online.