First Free Story (1 of 3)

More travel executives get their mission-critical industry news from Skift than any other source on the planet.

Already a member?

As the tourism sector has pursued heady growth year after year, the perception of climate change had been that it was a slow-burning issue playing out in the background — like haze, pollution, and many other perennial problems that affect Asia.

Unlike coronavirus and bushfires, with fallouts instantly felt or actions immediately needed from the authorities, climate change mitigation felt like one challenge that could wait. The issue was always there, but the resolve to tackle it was lacking.

That’s the wrong thinking, so it’s heartening to hear that more industry players are finally galvanizing into action to reduce tourism’s massive carbon footprint just as the long-simmering emergency is reaching a critical point. The route to emissions cutting has not been a clear-cut one without international standards in place, although experts say that should not deter efforts as digitalization is making carbon offsets easier than ever.

Even carbon-negative Bhutan is suffering missteps in its controlled tourism strategy after surging tourist arrivals in recent years disrupted the pristine environment it’s so famed for. The tiny Himalayan kingdom is now mulling ways, including imposing the sustainable development fee on regional tourists, to prevent itself from becoming yet another overcrowded destination.

It all comes down to political will and wisdom in pursuing responsible travel. Let’s not make climate talk trivial anymore.

— Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, Skift Asia Editor, xl@skift.com, @xinyi_pholsena

Skift Stories and More Expert Insights

Asia Tourism Tackles Climate Change: It Gets Confusing: Many tourism stakeholders in Asia are finally taking steps to tackle the climate change elephant in the room, but confusion over carbon offsetting is preventing the issue from being addressed swiftly and effectively. Meanwhile, the climate clock ticks on.

Abandoned Hong Kong Hotels Go Into Survival Mode as Virus Fallout Spreads: As hotel occupancy plunges to a single digit, Hong Kong’s leadership toward one of its most important industries is being put to the test during the coronavirus crisis. So is the leadership of hotel CEOs in keeping their companies whole.

tiger's nest The Paro Taktsang Buddhist monastery Bhutan Wine CompanyShangri-La Lost and Found: Can Bhutan Find Its Way Back to Tourism Paradise Again? Bhutan’s high tourist fee was one key reason the country managed to avoid the pitfalls of mass tourism until recently. It’s high time that the sustainable tourism development fee is uniformly levied for all tourists, regardless of their origins.

Oyo CEO Defends Business Practices That Anger Some Hoteliers: If you were thinking after a tumultuous last few months that a reformed Oyo would emerge, then guess again. The hotel chain is giving little ground on the basics of its business model, although it vows to get better on the execution of it all.

Expedia Begins Layoffs Targeting 12 Percent of Its Workforce: Diller and Kern are taking an ax, as promised, to Expedia Group’s payroll. This could be just the first round, and the thinking might be: Why sell to private equity, have those folks squeeze out the cost savings, and reshape the business when we can do it ourselves?

Travel Megatrends 2020: Short-Term Rental Winners Emerge: The short-term rental ecosystem is getting bigger, which means many winners are set to emerge from the pack. Expect further brand-driven professionalization, more outside investment, and vendor consolidation. Those getting on board will benefit, but is a backlash in the cards?

Hyatt’s China Business Is Down 90 Percent in February From Coronavirus Fallout: Hyatt Hotels had a strong year in 2019, so the story it had to tell on Thursday wasn’t all dreary. The problem is that shareholders and guests hate uncertainty. And so far the travel industry faces nothing but uncertainty, left beholden to how the coronavirus crisis evolves.

Air France-KLM’s $324 Million in Fuel Savings Likely to Offset Coronavirus Outbreak Costs: For the moment, the drop in fuel price is benefiting Air France-KLM, but if the coronavirus outbreak doesn’t ease off, this could all change.

Asia Editor Xinyi Liang-Pholsena [xl@skift.com] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

Subscribe to the Free Skift Asia Weekly Newsletter

Photo Credit: The Mekong River, a critical lifeline in Southeast Asia, is seeing its lowest levels in a century, the result of controversial dams and severe drought exacerbated by climate change. A view of the river from Chiang Khan, Loei Province, in Thailand. Xinyi Liang-Pholsena / Skift