Purdue University

    The Future of Sustainable Travel post-COVID-19

    May 28, 2020

    For most of us, it has been several months since we’ve traveled anywhere; though we may be eagerly anticipating our next trip, that travel likely won’t look the same.  Jonathon Day, Center affiliate and Associate Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management, has weighed in on the topic of sustainable tourism and what the travel industry may expect in upcoming months. Day, as founder of the Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel (SMART) website and internationally recognized expert on sustainable travel, spends much of his time thinking about how our travel patterns not only affect businesses and destinations within the complex system that is tourism but also how they negatively impact natural and built environments.

    Crises such as the current global pandemic have altered, and will continue to alter, the way we travel in ways ranging from the level of cleaning we expect in hotels to how far we are willing to travel and to what level of density of other travelers being in the same place will we accept.  But there is a potential upside for sustainable travel if companies and communities use this pause to begin to think more strategically about their participation in tourism.  For example, Day suggests that communities can think more carefully, and engage in broader discussions about what type of tourism a given community may want to pursue.  Clearly, less air travel also greatly reduces the greenhouse gases emitted by planes, but Day also suggests that travelers demand better performance from airlines and even suggests strategies like the increasingly popular carbon offset programs for airlines.  We will stay tuned to learn more about the complex relationship between climate change, the pandemic’s social and economic impacts and the future of sustainable and responsible travel.

    Author: Lynne Dahmen

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