Skift Take

Good morning from Skift. It's Friday, July 1 in New York City. Here's what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

Listen to the day’s top travel stories in under four minutes every weekday.

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Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at takeaways from the recent Skift Sustainable Tourism Summit, Bhutan’s reopening, and Air Canada’s apology.

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Episode Notes

Travel companies have loudly expressed their commitment to more sustainable business in recent years, with the large-scale global reopening of tourism giving them and destinations a new start. However, the industry is still a long way from successfully implementing plans for greener travel, Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtermariam explains in his five key takeaways from this week’s Skift Sustainable Tourism Summit.

Much of the travel industry, Habtermariam writes, is still giving issues of climate change lip service. Darrell Wade, the co-founder and CEO of tour operator Intrepid Travel, said during the summit that at least 50 percent of travel companies haven’t taken concrete steps to addressing climate change. Another takeaway was that hotels and airlines, among other companies, need to establish science-based targets for carbon emissions reduction. Skift Senior Vice President of Research Haixa Wang said carbon offset purchases, popular in the travel industry, are rather ineffective.

Habtermariam adds that successful sustainable tourism requires historically marginalized communities to be significantly involved in the process. He cited the work of Canada-based destination marketing organization Destination Greater Victoria, which has empowered members of local Indigenous communities to play a leading role in the region’s tourism industry.

Next, Bhutan will finally reopen its borders without quarantine to tourists from September 23. But a substantially increased tourist fee could deter travelers from visiting the Asian country, writes Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia.

Foreign tourists coming to Bhutan will have to pay a $200 per person per night sustainable development fee — a 300 percent jump from the $65 fee introduced in 1991. A government statement said the fee hike would go towards offsetting the carbon footprint of tourists as well as the upskilling of tourism workers.

While Bhutia writes the significant fee hike is a clear reflection of Bhutan’s aim to attract high-value and low-volume tourism, tourism officials have expressed concern it will make the country less competitive in the fight to attract tourists. A Bhutanese tour operator executive expressed uncertainty about whether three European groups would proceed with their planned trips following the institution of the fee hikes.

We end today with Air Canada. The carrier, which like many of its peers has been pummeled by a wave of flight cancellations this summer, has issued an apology to disrupted travelers, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

Air Canada CEO Michael Rousseau’s June 29 letter apologizing to consumers is part of what Russell calls the summer of airline apologies. The company is canceling, on average, more than 150 flights per day in July and August, roughly 15 percent of its schedule. Those reductions will only occur on domestic Canada and U.S. routes from its Montreal and Toronto hubs. Aviation analyst Helane Becker attributed Air Canada’s flight reductions to the worldwide staffing shortages plaguing airlines.

But Russell writes the general view in the airline industry is that the situation will improve this fall after the summer travel peak eases. That is why most airlines are deciding to only cut schedules through August.

Tags: air canada, bhutan, climate change, skift podcast