WTTC and Harvard T.H. Chan School Release Papers to Drive Sustainability in Tourism

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, and faculty and scientists of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, today release four research insight papers to support the pursuit of sustainability in Travel & Tourism.

The research insights aim to support decision-makers in Travel & Tourism broaden their understanding of sustainability as it relates to policies and practice in the sector.

WTTC and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have a long history of collaboration, working towards a more sustainable future for Travel & Tourism. Together, they aim to raise awareness, shift mind-sets, and enact systemic change.

WTTC hopes that these research insights will help move the agenda beyond immediate operational impacts, with sustainability positioned as central to long-term business success. Indeed, many private sector organisations in Travel & Tourism embed sustainability into their strategy.

WTTC and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have a long history of collaboration, working towards a more sustainable future for Travel & Tourism. Together, their work is aimed at raising awareness, shifting mindsets, and enacting systemic change.

The learning insights focus on four key sustainability-related issues, notably: setting science-based targets in Travel & Tourism; adopting a culture of health to advance sustainable Travel & Tourism; behavioral economics in Travel & Tourism; and leadership in sustainability.

Insights include:

  • Aligning business strategy with global commitments
  • Translating environmental benefits secured by climate action, such as switching to renewable energy sources and transitioning to electric vehicles, among others
  • Making sustainability the default option and an expected norm.
  • Simplifying options and choice sets, incorporating sustainability as the most likely option a traveller will make
  • Visualising pro-sustainability choices and behaviours, where possible
  • Ongoing investment in sustainability education and training to drive sustainability at all levels, including Board members
  • Ensuring sustainability leadership traits, attributes and impact are woven into staff development plans, appraisal, and reward mechanisms

Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President and Acting CEO, WTTC said: “We are delighted to be working with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health once again– a leading academic institution globally.

“WTTC is thrilled to champion sustainability leadership and innovation practices in Travel & Tourism and be involved in creating meaningful outputs on sustainability within the sector. We hope this work will help bring in a new era within the sector that encourages social and environmental responsibility.

“Sustainability has become an integral part of the new normal that we’re seeing the sector move towards, and it’s clear that businesses must learn to integrate it as part of their organisational DNA if they want to thrive in a post-COVID world.”

Dr. Wendy Purcell, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and lead researcher for the research insights said: “This is an important collaboration where sustainability, public health and business come together to advance research-led practice in the Travel & Tourism sector. Given the importance of the Travel & Tourism sector for people, planet and shared prosperity, research-led practice in the sector is central to inclusive and sustainable growth.”

Professor Jack Spengler, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said: “We value our long-term collaboration with WTTC. These important research insights draw attention to opportunities to help accelerate change in the sector.”

This collaboration between WTTC and Harvard encourages the sharing of best practices and supports sustainability as a core strategic priority to ensure the viability of the Travel & Tourism sector and the co-creation of thriving sustainable societies.

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