/News 16.09.21


Leaders in their fields; TAG and Earthcheck partner up to set the forecast of how we may operate under the “new normal” post Covid-19. Along with a focus on some unexpected positives which have arisen as a result of the pandemic, such as increased interconnectivity and focus on climate awareness.

In many ways, the remainder of the year and into 2022 cannot be treated as business as usual. It heralds a new period of time where societal, economic and environmental uncertainty and disruption have become the norm. It is now clear that not only is regional and global climate change a reality, but there are other hazards and vulnerabilities that need to be factored into our business plans. Standard operating procedures are now required to manage risk, build resilience, and factor in adaptation and recovery responses.

With the gradual easing of travel restrictions worldwide, people will once again start to leave their homes in search of reconnection with the outside world and their own re-creation. Given that international travel will remain constrained for a considerable period of time (2-3) years local and domestic tourism will provide the green shoots in a post-COVID-19 environment. While it can be expected that people will initially start travelling to sites closer to home, this will gradually extend to longer day trips, overnight stays, and extended breaks as the wider economy opens up.

Our current research indicates that hygiene, general visitor safety and cleanliness will be front and centre for all destinations, precincts and businesses as we move into a reset and recover phase in the next months. Spending time with family and friends will increase in importance, and visiting them will be a key motivator for travel. The great outdoors are likely to boom as travellers shift their preferences and avoid crowded places and the benefits of the outdoors on mental health are realised.

“Signalling a climate emergency is one thing, committing to action and having a plan is another.”

Emeritus Professor David Simmons, Chair EarthCheck Research Institute

It is now clear that the post-COVID-19 conscious consumer will begin to scrutinise every aspect of a destination, business and supply chain. Some organisations will genuinely achieve these aims, others will falsely claim they have, and some simply don’t care. Some would like to but don’t know how. One way of rewarding the businesses or destinations that truly comply with these goals is by giving them credible (independent) third party recognition. Certification is a tool for doing so.

TAG is partnering with EarthCheck to provide guidance and support to clients on embracing and supporting sustainable travel. EarthCheck is one of the world’s leading sustainability companies, renowned for its credible and science-based approach to sustainable tourism benchmarking and certification.

TAG sat down with EarthCheck’s CEO and founder, Stewart Moore, recently to discuss what key trends we’ll start seeing in the year ahead.

Stewart Moore, EarthCheck. Provided by TAG

TAG: How have you seen the impact of COVID-19?

SM: The world has suddenly become very interconnected. The global pandemic has heightened our awareness of how connected we are across the planet and how we need to take action in the travel and tourism sector to travel more responsibly. Travel guilt is now real and will need to be managed in a proactive fashion. Safety, wellness, hygiene and sustainability will now become part of the travel discussion.

TAG: Is climate action still a priority?

SM: There is now a heightened awareness of climate change following 18 months of global reflection and the recent release of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report. The news is not good and will pick up speed during and after COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference). If you are a business, environmental, social and governance reporting (ESG reporting) has now come of age and has become more important for a wide range of stakeholders including investors, lenders, ratings agencies, customers, distribution agencies and your employees. 75% of investors would find value in the assurance of organisations planning for climate risks. Even the largest companies in the world are voicing their support for ESG disclosure standards. Travel needs to embrace ESG reporting.

TAG: What are your thoughts on carbon neutrality?

SM: The carbon economy has now arrived with the realisation that carbon pricing will have an impact on every part of the travel supply chain…particularly aviation.

TAG: Could you talk more about the social side of sustainability?

SM: The rise of social activism. The demand for social justice and social equity will now permeate a wide range of discussions, from what we wear and eat to how we travel and where we stay. This highlights the need for scientific reporting and transparency in how we measure and report on our footprint. 

Travel can be a force for good. We will start to see more discussion on regenerative, transformative and conscious travel (travel that gives back rather than just takes). The concept of regenerative travel deals with restoring and replenishing resources. Hence the concept of net positive impact…buildings that are energy positive and give back to the grid! etc.

TAG: What other trends do you see emerging?

SM: Digitised guest experiences and contactless technology. This includes virtual and augmented reality and hands of services from the airport through to reception.

Standardisation is no longer the norm. The experience economy has arrived, and consumers will begin to expect personalisation and unique travel experiences. Storytelling needs to be embraced.

Should you have any questions around ESG, or you’d like to find out more about TAG and EarthCheck’s partnership, and what this means to those we work with, please contact:
Jamie Tench

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