Sustainability in the travel industry is one of the most exciting challenges of our time. Travel is a necessity, a pleasure, a natural instinct of human beings, but lately, those who care about sustainability cannot do it without feeling guilty for the environmental impact that they generate. Can we consider travel poorly environmentally sustainable? Riccardo Ricci, our Commercial Manager for Business Travel, spoke with Geco Expo in the following interview.
D: Turism and business travel. Which category is more sustainable?
R: Before all, the tourism sector has understood that sustainability is the only way out of this post-pandemic crisis. We see more and more people choosing outdoor holidays and active tourism and I believe that the same will be replicated in Business Travel when companies start to travel again.
It is certain that companies must change the perspective of their approach to business travel. Before the expenditure, the travel policy should focus on the well-being and the safety of the traveller and all the choices for the supply chain should be made by sustainable services. Therefore, companies will achieve two objectives of ESG (Environmental Social Governance), which are the well-being of their employees and the attention to the environment, which someday will be savings for those companies that choose to be sustainable.
I would like to remind that Alma Travel was the first ESG certified travel agency, but of course we will see soon other agencies following our same path.
D: The Travel industry has changed a lot in recent years. Which are, for you, the most interesting news about sustainable travel?
R: In our sector, we’re making leaps and bounds to face the difficult challenge of the Paris agreement “Agenda 2030” that is to halve the amount of CO2 emissions. Many airlines such as Air France and KLM are adopting SAF fuels which are less polluting but more expensive. Maybe the real challenge will be the complete renewal of the airline fleets.
The hotel industry is moving in the same direction: soon there will be new certifications that ensure the structure real level of sustainability and not only from an energetic point of view (many hotels already have the Green label, taking into account only this parameter), but also for all the consumables in the hotel (detergents, soaps, containers, etc.). Alma Travel is actively involved to provide sustainable travel solutions to its customers and to provide a detailed report of the CO2 emission for every trip that, thanks to the collaboration with external companies, is certified and included in the sustainability report.
However, I would like to dispel the myth that travel is polluting. Only when there is no process that ensures the coordination with all stakeholders could be considered this way. What about online meetings? Actually, a recent investigation made by the University of Michigan accused virtual meetings to pollute. For example, a 6-hour meeting emitted 1324 kilos of CO2 emissions, the same as driving for 3300 miles. This figure makes us think about the meeting theme (physical and virtual) with different perspectives, maybe more sustainable.
D: Is it possible to combine the recovery of the sector with the objectives of sustainability?
R: Not only is it possible, but it is also a duty. We must strive to understand that sustainability is made up of small steps that everyone should do towards a common good. An economic recovery which does not take into consideration the sustainability would lead us to self-destruction and for this (also thanks to the pandemic) we can no longer waste time. Careful! I mean not only our sector, but also the recovery of a local trade that, through the growing Smart Working or Workation phenomenon, could be a new tendency in the world of agile work. Nevertheless, it is important not to replicate same mistakes made in the past. Moving the worker from the company headquarters to a new place of work involves legal doubts, in terms of safety, of the