Skift Take

With the impacts of climate change already upon us, the tourism sector will soon be forced to take aggressive actions to curb its carbon emissions. Because inaction is increasingly not an option.

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, [email protected], @xinyi_pholsena

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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.

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Asia Editor Xinyi Liang-Pholsena [[email protected]] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

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Tags: bhutan, carbon offsets, climate change, coronavirus, expedia, oyo, skift asia weekly

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

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